Wednesday, March 07, 2007
Story Time
It's nice to know it's not only me, who has fallen out of the literary universe and considers it a cultural event if I page through a complete article in Entertainment Weekly while watching American Idol. I don't know whether that means I'm pulling the rest of you down into the Abyss of Mindlessness with me or if we were all just on the same train anyway, but it's nice not to be alone.


The general theme, in the comments, seems to be about time. Finding time to read, finding uninterrupted, childless, focused, conscious time to get involved in the story and immerse oneself in someone else's world. I get this, I really, really do. I'm working 50 hours a week, I have several dozen (or, at least two) short demanding people in my house, plus a tall demanding one, the dishes and laundry have not yet learned to wash themselves... so, yes, time is not exactly an abundant commodity in my house. But I find the time to reread, sometimes a few times a year, my old favorites, which include almost-enriching things like Pride and Prejudice as well as a host of what I refer to as "mental floss," authors like Nora Roberts who provide a predictable story without requiring my brain or emotions to actually get involved. (A bit like having a television on in the background, when I'm eating lunch I like to have a book open, but I don't want something that I would resent putting down, so in comes the chick lit.) I also find the time to knit, sometimes several hours a day, and ramble around online. So, if I wanted to find the time to read new books, I would. I can even read while knitting, so I wouldn't have to carve out any extra minutes.

But, the sad truth is, right now, I don't want to. It's not, for me, about time management, or distraction. I read quickly, and absorb quickly, and for many years I felt off, dismayed, incomplete, if there was not an active book, or often three or four, within arm's reach at any given moment. I just don't have that same drive, at the moment. I don't choose to pick up a book. And while I don't regret that, because I know the pendulum will swing back eventually, I also am not proud of it. People who do read everything on Oprah's book list, who visit the bookstore even when they're broke, whose library cards wear out on a regular basis, they have a certain pride in their obsession. Reading voraciously, even at the expense of relationships and personal hygiene, is generally accepted as an admirable, or at the very least uncondemnable, habit. I like being seen as "wicked smahhht," as cooler people than I say in the Boston area, and I like being able to say that I've read the important books, seen the important movies, somehow absorbed intelligence and insight and culture in my daily life. But I don't care enough, at the moment, to do anything about it.

Maybe soon. Maybe all this blogging about it is my subconscious' way of signalling a change is gon' come. We'll see.

And as an aside, Corey, being Corey, found a way to change the paradigm just a bit, and talk about deciding what to read, and later, about releasing books back into the wild. I don't know if he rereads comments after posting them (what is the blog etiquette around that, anyway?), so I'm bringing it up again here. There actually already is a club, a program, whatever you want to call it, that does exactly that - after you read a book, you leave a note or label in it, and leave it in some public place for someone new to pick up and, in theory, read and enjoy. There's a website where you can post when you find one of the books, which could help you to track the books you've released, assuming you trust your fellow human to actually bother to keep up the trend. Anyway, it's at and Nisa was able to Name That Site before I got in touch with my father, so she wins the big prize. Whatever that is.