hobbiesThere has been a lot of Doompocalypse talk lately about what Amazon/Google/Apple/The Cloud means for authors, readers, publishers and…well, books. And accompanying that has been a moderate spike in the quantity of ‘Blogger abandons Kindle, returns to ‘real’ books and rhapsodizes about the smell of paper’ posts.

I don’t think the smell of paper is anything magical, per se, and I have no problems snuggling up with a blanket and a Kindle just as I did with a book, or reading on the beach or in a bathtub (eBooks are actually better for that because you can put them in a Ziploc bag and not have to worry about how to turn the pages!). But a part of me does understand where the nostalgia for a non-screen life can come from. A message board I frequent recently had a thread about people’s hobbies, and nearly all of them listed ‘surfing the internet’ as a primary leisure activity. And that was outside of whatever web usage they did at work!

As for my own non-screen hobbies—well, that used to be reading, didn’t it? Reading used to be my break from web surfing, writing on the computer, working on the computer and so on. And now reading IS the computer. So…what else it out there?

The things people posted about in the thread were heartening. People really do still have off-screen lives! Several people mentioned fitness-related activities (Tae Kwon Do, yoga, gym-going) and craft-based activities. I did not inherit the family crafting gene, but my mother is an avid knitter. I know people who are walkers, bikers, artisans, amateur chefs and decorators and party planners.

As for me, I discovered Lego last year when the Beloved gifted me with a valentine bear, and I have found it a really enjoyable (if somewhat expensive) hobby. At first, I was really uptight about keeping the pieces of every set all grouped singly, but lately I have started mixing together the ones of a like theme, and combining the pieces to make my own creations. It’s so relaxing to sit down with the little old-school paper booklet and snap the little pieces together—then take them apart and make something else! And I love that it’s something the Beloved and I can do together. He was supposed to buy himself a new Xbox for his birthday, but got so into the nightly Lego time that he forgot all about the gaming. When I asked him the other day when he wanted to go and get his machine, he told me he was actually enjoying the Lego more right now!

I still love to read, and the convenience of doing it via eBook still seems magical to me. If you had told 7-year-old me that with one click of a button, she could get any book she wanted in seconds, and that it would take up no space in the house, she would have thought that was a fairy tale. But it’s nice to have a non-screen hobby too. Do you leave time in your leisure life for unplugged activities? Tell us in the comments!

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"I’m a journalist, a teacher and an e-book fiend. I work as a French teacher at a K-3 private school. I use drama, music, puppets, props and all manner of tech in my job, and I love it. I enjoy moving between all the classes and having a relationship with each child in the school. Kids are hilarious, and I enjoy watching them grow and learn. My current device of choice for reading is my Amazon Kindle Touch, but I have owned or used devices by Sony, Kobo, Aluratek and others. I also read on my tablet devices using the Kindle app, and I enjoy synching between them, so that I’m always up to date no matter where I am or what I have with me."


  1. Well I am a father of young children, so that occupies much of my “free time”, but her are activities I like to do that don’t (necessarily) involve screen time. I like to play Irish Traditional Music, primarily on the concertina and button accordion, but have also been experimenting with the penny whistle so I could teach it to my kids. Amateur astronomy is one I hope to get back to as the kids get older. Nothing like looking at the wonders of the Universe through a telescope as opposed to on a computer screen. And finally, I still engage in film photography, primarily black and white; though I cheat and scan the negatives rather than setting up a dark room and doing proper prints.

  2. Reading is my biggest hobby and I don’t care if it’s a printed book or on my Kindle. I find it relaxing and enjoyable; but you want me to move outside that box … well, okay. har har My non-screen hobbies: baking, crossword puzzles, trying to grow flowers (the joke is that plants see me coming and try to run from the nursery), origami (I’m not very good at this but it’s a nice challenge), and quilting. I also like to sit in my rocker on the front porch and just rock.

    MarylandBill, I hope you do encourage your kids in astronomy. I still have my constellation chart, and I love to go walking (or drive to somewhere dark enough to see the night sky) and take my binoculars and find stars.

    Joanna, love your Lego guy.

  3. Oh trust me, I am…. My oldest (who is 5) frequently starts dinner by asking if we can have a “space talk”.

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