The Anti – iPhone Plan



I’ve gotten into the worst habit.  I used to take a book with me everywhere; carried what I was reading in my coat pocket or purse or backpack; to bed and to the bathtub; even to the kitchen to read for those few minutes it takes the water to boil.  These days, I take my phone.  I recently had to admit to myself that I — a lifelong book addict — could not even remember the last book I finished.  How pitiful is that?

So this week I conducted an experiment.  I left my phone in the car or on the kitchen counter and carried a book instead.  I re-read THE EMPRESS CHRONICLES and remembered how incredibly smart the converging story lines are (I loved it even more this time through), and I’m just now on page 61 of RECONSTRUCTING AMELIAwhich I picked up along with the others in the above stack.  At a brick-and-mortar bookstore.  Where I spent more than an hour without my phone.

It turns out I don’t have to see every text message the instant it comes in; I don’t have to return emails at mach ten speed; and I don’t have to follow anyone’s Twitter feed or press the “like” button.  It turns out that I still need what I’ve always needed:  real, live, in the flesh books.  And I need to carry them with me everywhere I go.


What are you reading these days?



52 thoughts on “The Anti – iPhone Plan

  1. Suzy Vitello

    Oh Teri, yes! We are on the same page (get it? Hahahaha!) about the leaving the phone at home thing. I’ve done it a few times, and it’s incredibly liberating. Going to a cafe with an actual book and not being distracted. And thanks for the Empress mention!

    This week I savored Megan Abbott’s latest, The Fever. Her deft play with sentences is like eating a valhrona white chocolate sandwich cookie from my favorite bakery (which I did!). Yum fest. But, as is often the case, once it’s over, I’ve got a pang in my gut – not unlike a hangover! I need my next fix. Maybe it’ll be the McCreight!

    1. Teri Post author

      And P.S. I’ve been reading the McCreight book all morning. I have to find out what’s going to happen! (good sign)

  2. fevia

    I use to be an avid book reader as well! And it has been so many years since I can remember what I last read. I have tried and tried to read books again, all types, I even buy them by the three’s and I cannot manage to get through even half of the book! I am so shameful! Friends and family will say put that book down and be here with us, now it’s the phone….I’d much rather be into a good book than caught on my phone. It wasn’t until I read this post just how much I miss reading. I will follow your lead and take on this challenge this coming week!

  3. Mary Lynne

    You hit a nerve here. I realized that looking at my email or Facebook or playing solitaire on my iPad has seriously eroded my reading time. There’s already more good books than I have time to read–why am I sabotaging myself? I just need to stop, that’s all there is to it. Books are more important than Facebook, for pete’s sakes. Just finished Life After Life by Kate Atkinson for the second time, it was even better the second time. Now I’m reading a quirky book called City of Dark Magic by Magnus Flyte. A castle, time travel, a Beethoven historian, and a dwarf, all in Prague. How can that be bad?

    1. Teri Post author

      It can’t be bad at all, Mary Lynne. And you’re right, there are sooooo many books I’ll never get to because I don’t have time? I never thought I’d be one of “those people” and yet, sadly, here I am. Time to get off that iPhone train to nowhere.

  4. M. J. Miller

    Great post, thank you. I’m reading (actual books), Red Station by Adrian Magson (Cold War Spy), The Difference Engine by Gibson because I’m considering a steampunk novel and want to see some of the earliest modern versions. A couple on the Kindle or Kindle phone app, but I still prefer the pages in my hands.

    1. Teri Post author

      I also prefer the pages. I keep trying to love the eReader — and I do love how I can carry so many books in one package — but the reality is that having all of those books at the ready just makes me not finish ANY of them. Reading a book on a tablet does the same thing to my brain that the iPhone does: my attention span becomes about 5 seconds long.

      Here’s to real paper books.

  5. Joe Ponepinto

    Ran out of things to read so pulled an oldie from the shelf, “100 Years of Solitude,” by Garcia-Marquez. A primer on magical realism (which I wish some the submitters to my journal would read). I like what you said about carrying a book around. I do that when I travel and it makes me read a lot more. I think I’ll start leaving books out around the house, instead of sequestering them in the bedroom, to encourage that same feeling.

    1. Teri Post author

      About a year ago I stopped carrying books while traveling, and just brought my Nook. I thought it was so great. So many books in one small package. But all it’s done is give me too many options and the result is that I end up never finishing anything.

      I’m going back to real books. And you can see by the stack above that I’m also returning to some old loves, like Zora Neale Hurston. I picked it up at the bookstore and read the first paragraph and thought, “Oh, yes, this is what really good writing is.”

  6. Lizzie

    As a grad student I don’t have much time for recreational reading. I do have a 45 min (sometimes more) commute each morning. So, I listen to books through Audible, which has made my commute enjoyable and injected much needed fiction into my life. I recently finished “Bring Up the Bodies” by Hilary Mantel. Currently, I’m reading “The Complete Sherlock Holmes.”

    1. Teri Post author

      I love my audio books, Lizzie, and often listen to favorites over and over again. I listen to them when I walk my dogs and, lately, when I can’t sleep in the middle of the night. It’s like having a favorite aunt read me a bedtime story.

    1. Averil Dean

      Those pictures…

      I have retreated from most of this. I closed my Twitter account and my Facebook, neither of which I used enough to miss. But what I hear from everybody is, Why aren’t you connected? How can I even reach you? It’s like I only exist for them if I’m online (in specific forums), like I’m not only being antisocial but am deliberately missing out on some crucial part of life.

      I don’t even know how to answer. Maybe it’s true?

  7. J

    I just got done reading The Vacationers…I was disappointed but kept reading in wait that something was going to happen….:-/

    1. Teri Post author

      I’ve had The Vacationers on my shelf for a looooong time, but I read the first few pages and lost interest. Unfortunate but true.

      1. J

        Yes…I would have skipped it if I knew better. Just saw you finished ‘Reconstructing Amelia’ What a brilliant piece of work!!! Gave me shivers!!

  8. amyg

    i’m in a reading blitz right now…in the past few weeks i’ve read:
    joy castro’s The Truth Book
    wendy ortiz’s Excavation
    Lena Dunham’s Not that Kind of Girl
    Alexander Fuller’s Leaving before the Rains Come

    I loved them all…I’m now going back and reading Alexander Fuller’s first books b/c I obviously missed the boat on her way back at the beginning and need to catch up. Tonight I bought a Joan of Arc biography. Not something I would have normal picked up – but who can refuse a katheryn harrison book????

    1. Teri Post author

      You are my Reading Icon, AmyG. I have COCKTAIL HOUR UNDER THE TREE OF FORGETFULNESS, but haven’t cracked it yet.

      I know I should be dying to read the Dunham book — I even saw a huge stack of them in the bookstore — but can’t make myself be interested. What was your take on it overall?

  9. Paul Lamb

    Turns out I hardly ever get any text messages or emails, so having my iPhone in my pocket is not much of a deterrent to reading for me. Reading Under the Glacier, by Halldor Laxness, however, may be a deterrent. What the hell is that book about????

    1. Teri Post author

      Hahahaha Paul. Maybe I also need to start running more (as well as reading), especially now that it’s not hot outside.

  10. triciatierney

    Yes, I’ve been thinking that all the screens in my life are sucking up way too much time. I used to carry the phone with me even when walking my dog, pretending to myself that maybe I’d want to take a photo. Rarely. So instead of seeing the world, I’d be staring at the screen like some 13 year old girl.
    And here I am doing this when I should be delving into my own work. So many distractions but also, delightful opportunities for connection. My struggle is to find balance (always).
    I’m reading (book – my first preference) Bill Roorbach’s The Remedy for Love – and picked it up because I was enchanted by his twitters about love. Some kind of circle there…

    1. Teri Post author

      So many distractions. Isn’t that the truth? Hmmmmm. I’m starting to equate the word “distractions” to being merely more “excuses” for me to not be doing what I’m supposed to be doing.

  11. donnaeve

    I’m definitely outside of the box here. No cellphone – by choice. That might change at some point, but when I had one, it stayed dead, in my pocketbook.

    I have THE BARTER in your list above. I just finished SUTTREE and wrote a brief review on it on the blog. That was a crazy ass book, if you ask me. I have OUTER DARK and BLOOD MERIDIAN next in line, although I’m thinking THE BARTER might interject itself into the lineup. I need to let my brain rest. 🙂

    I take books with me when I travel, always. I am never far from having one near me at all times, actually. I only diverted from real books for about a year…when my husband thought it was a good idea to get me a Sony e-Reader. Out of courtesy for his purchase, I used it, but I hated it. I was soooo glad when I felt okay to let him know I was going back to real books

    1. Teri Post author

      Donna, you are officially crowned. So smart to not have smart phones! We no longer have a home phone, just our cell phones.

      I also can’t read anything on the eReader. It’s just another screen to me. It has its advantages — instant purchases, a whole library in one spot, cheaper books — and yet I can’t make myself finish a book on the thing.

      When you start BLOOD MERIDIAN, have your dictionary handy. I loved it and was terrified by that book, and necessarily so. I also need to read it again. I haven’t read SUTTREE or OUTER DARK, though we have them all my husband has — he’s the huge McCarthy fan in this house.

      1. donnaeve

        I’ll take any award I can get these days. 🙂

        You would absolutely need the dictionary for SUTTREE too – matter of fact,what we all might need is a McCarthy decoder ring, or to have a chat with the gent about where his head is when he writes. Like I said elsewhere, but dare I say it here since your hubby’s a McCarthy fan (I loved CHILD OF GOD btw) but…, BUT, I gave SUTTREE two stars. Which on Goodreads means “it was okay.” And mainly because of the difficulty in understanding him. I’d be interested in your take on SUTTREE if you get around to it. Granted, there are parts of it that are brilliant, but those were immediately overshadowed by his extensive vocabulary and style.

        McCarthy will require more reading, more studying by my standards.

      2. Teri Post author

        Well now I have to read CHILD OF GOD for sure. I love the difficulty of McCarthy, and I’m guessing you do too, because it’s not difficult just to be that way. There’s a reason or, rather, many reasons. That man can pack a lot into a page.

      3. donnaeve

        First of all, if you read CHILD be prepared for some rather…what should I call this…, uh, taboo subject matter. Yeah. That works. But also be prepared to laugh, b/c if I’ve learned nothing else about McCarthy, it’s this… he delivers on dialogue and internal thoughts of a character and OMG, I absolutely laughed out loud (yes, we do actually LOL, but that LOL acronym thingy has somehow diminished the real deal…yet again, I digress) at how the main character Lester Ballard talked to his “love interest”.

        Get back to me on this line, “Ye been wantin’ it,” or maybe it was “you been wantin’ it.” Either way. OMG.

      4. donnaeve

        And yes, I do love the difficulty. I’ve discovered (sometimes)I can re-read his sentences over and over, and (sometimes) a cadence kicks in…and…I get it.

  12. lisahgolden

    I’m a reading machine or mess, I’m not sure. Can I count audio books? Because I’m addicted, listening to a book a week. THE PAYING GUESTS, most of the Alan Bradley Flavia de Luce (SWEETNESS AT THE BOTTOM OF THE PIE) series; right now I’m listening to BROADCHURCH

    1. Teri Post author

      I will never never never give up my audio books. They are such a pleasure! We read however and whatever we can, right?

      1. lisahgolden

        I’ll have to check hat out, Paul. This is my first Hardy novel and I’m enjoying albeit slowly, in tiny bites, squeezed in when I have a moment of calm.

  13. backtowhatever

    Umberto Eco – the cemetery in Prague 🙂 but I also struggle with the iphone-disease so I’m pretty slow with reading the book :/

    1. Teri Post author

      THAT is definitely on my to-read list!

      And what’s funny is that just saying, “I have iPhone disease,” has made me care less about the phone already. Kind of like the AA system for Social Media.

      1. backtowhatever

        Now that you say it I’m figuring out it might be true for me as well 🙂 maybe recognizing the problem truely is the first step to find a cure 🙂

  14. lisahgolden

    I give up. This touchpad hates me. I’m also reading the real book of MAYOR, am 1/4 into Kate Chopin’s THE AWAKENING (paper) and am listening to ROOMS on the Kindle. I’m in danger of not finishing any of them.

    1. Teri Post author

      I’ll just say it right out: I hate the eReader. Hate might be too strong a word, but I don’t think so. My kids read books on their phones, which is a whole other level of “wow” to me.

  15. Teri Post author

    UPDATE: I finished RECONSTRUCTING AMELIA by Kimberly McCreight in one day. I almost forgot dinner (What?!?!) and I was up until almost midnight last night to read to the last page. Absolutely loved it. And if you’ve got teenagers, it will freak you the hell out. Thank goodness I was not a teenager in the age of social media — scary as hell.

  16. koehlerjoni

    I just finished Lev Grossman’s The Magician because my daughter recommended it. If Harry Potter was a dissolute college student who slept around, drank and did drugs… But the book did have an ending that I didn’t anticipate, and I can’t remember the last time that happened.

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