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On reading

I was lying in bed this morning listening to Fresh Air when up popped a discussion with David Michael Lamb (who, let me say right off, I like and respect). He has made a commitment to read 52 books this year. Excellent, well done him -- except several things about the segment struck me as bizarre:
  • For starters, DML said he had barely read a book since university. This floored me. (He reads magazines and newspapers for work, at least.) The assumption that "everybody wants to read more books but nobody has the time" just does not apply to me. Last year, as I am in a position to state with absolute certainty, I read 154 books. This doesn't include rereads, of which there were also many. Reading is my drug of choice, the thing I do on the streetcar and in bed and waiting for the doctor and on weekends and on vacation and often while I'm watching TV or eating. The concept of not having time to read books does not fit anywhere in my head. It's like not having time to eat food. What?
  • That said, listening to the segment I felt like my reading habits probably wouldn't measure up. The books mentioned were Tomes of Serious Literature: Hard Times (or possibly Bleak House, it was early), War and Peace, Freedom, The Old Man and the Sea. If you measure by these standards, I barely read at all. I read fantasy and mysteries and romance and YA and historical fiction and, well, fun stuff. Occasionally I read Serious Literature, but only once in a blue moon. (I should probably make more of an attempt.) My non-fiction reading might, MIGHT come close to meeting the bar. Maybe.
Why this weird, arbitrary dichotomy? No books at all, or 52 Serious Important books? Why does reading for pleasure have to be good for you? The "publishing consultant" (who also seemed very nice, don't get me wrong) kept saying "It's all about reading things you wouldn't normally read," but... he's not normally reading ANYTHING, so why limit yourself?

In a final note of weirdness, all participants in the discussion live in Toronto, yet the library never came up.

I just dunno. What do you think?



Jan. 30th, 2011 11:46 pm (UTC)
I agree with pretty much everything you said. I've been making an effort to read more "serious" literature for the past year, and it has (generally) been better than I expected, but I alternate with genre novels.
Jan. 31st, 2011 12:54 am (UTC)
and why not? Life is too short to read books you don't enjoy, say I.
Jan. 31st, 2011 03:23 am (UTC)
I just noticed your userpic. I love it. :)


books ohi
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