Back when I was a reader, it often troubled me when friends claimed that they had no time to read. Was it possible that their lives were so full of wonders that they could not spend five minutes here or there to read? How was it that my life, in comparison, seemed to offer so many chunks of reading time throughout the day? A train ride, a late-night break, and an office wait. Through marriage, babies, graduate schools, and new jobs, I always found time to read for pleasure. ...Read the whole thing. I often run into people who ask, "Why in the world do you bother with reading?" They aren’t trying to be cruel or condescending. They simply don’t see the utility in it. Yet Gourlay does. With penetrating insight (and a fair amount of healthy self-loathing), he skewers the deficiencies that have sprung up due to his non-reading life. Tenuous concentration. Difficulty in engaging new ideas. An inability to make mental associations. An aversion to complexity. For myself, I’d like to add another point: Reading is worthwhile because it is beautiful, and while beauty might not reside on quite the same plane as truth or usefulness, it’s still worth seeking for its own sake.
Then I opened Skyrim and saw the following message: "48 hours played. Last played today."
I must have some free time. Perhaps the "I don’t have time to read" line is just a cover. A way that people excuse themselves from the uncomfortable truth that they do, in fact, have time but that they would rather do something other than read with that time (such as pretending to be a wood-elf). We exalt reading as "good" like exercise and vegetables and so we are always making excuses as to why we avoid it.
After I saw that message I knew that I had taken up residence in the swamp of the non-reader. Here is what life is like in that swamp ...
(Picture: CC 2011 by brianjmatis; Hat Tip: Brandywine Books)