Late-capitalist “efficiency culture” has been ruining things for almost 20 years now: I truly do not care how tech CEOs spend every 5-minute interval of their 20-hour days maximizing their brain and body potential. (I read on the toilet sometimes… does that count?)
So I am deeply skeptical of each and every app that comes out promising to make my reading life more efficient, as if books can be distilled into potent little pills, red for fiction, blue for books about WWII.
But I actually think Serial Reader might be onto something. The free app currently offers around 800 public domain novels (here are some hot titles from 1921), and will dole out your chosen book in daily 20-minute bites. To some, that might sound like a miserable approach to reading canonical literature: How, for example, are you supposed to get swept up in the profane and tidal lilt of Ulysses if you put it down before you’ve even had a chance to look up “heresiarch”?
But I can see the appeal. As someone who has to read for a living, any kind of for-pleasure text is usually reserved for bedtime, which means 15 minutes of groggy and glazed page-skimming… So why not just take that 20 minutes and put it somewhere else, when I’m more alert?
If this app gets more people reading classic literature (and not just dumb summaries), I truly can’t see why not.