Literate Yet Happily Book-Free?

Just a quick one today.

As this blog focuses almost entirely on reading and writing, I think you know where I stand on the value of the written word. Not just the written word, which includes newspapers, blogs and magazines, but books, especially novels, but also collections of stories. I have a house full of these things, and it always amazes me to meet intelligent, educated adults who have no problem reading and understanding a textbook or a magazine article but who never, ever read a book for pleasure.

I struggle more than a a little with understanding people who never read a book, ever. Strange enough to read nothing but historical nonfiction, or instructional books about your favorite hobby, but to never, ever read a book of any kind is so strange to me. Some of the people I know like this claim they’d read more if they had more time, though of course they have plenty of time for television, DVDs, video games and all other sorts of entertainment.

Sometimes I admit I think less of people like this, even people I know to be intelligent, and otherwise capable. Mostly I feel sorry for them. It really seems to me like a person eating nothing but Wonder bread for every meal, never enjoying a great pizza, or a bowl of steaming clam chowder at the Oregon Coast, or a rib eye steak hot off the grill. It’s sad. It’s a closing-off against one of life’s greatest pleasures. Perhaps more than anything else, it’s like voluntary celibacy, not out of any kind of spiritual desire to abstain, but from simply not understanding what the attraction is in the first place.

It’s a great mystery to me and also to most of the people I know, who wish sincerely for more time to read, and more space to store their books!

2 thoughts on “Literate Yet Happily Book-Free?

  1. Hey Mike,

    I enjoyed this entry. I don’t understand those people either. TV seems like opening a vein and siphoning off your life an hour at a time where reading is adding on to what you already have.

    I don’t mind letting the library store my books for me though.


  2. Plenty of people say “Oh, I just don’t have time to do nothing but sit with a book,” but of course they have plenty of time to watch “So you think you can dance” or “American’s Top Model” or whatever. Those people just need to wake up and realize life is passing them by. Nobody on their death bed ever said “I wish I’d watched more TV.”

    Also there are some people who just can’t be bothered to think about anything, and need entertainment that allows them to be entirely passive. This blog isn’t even about people who are simply dumb or lazy, because it’s no mystery why they don’t read.

    But the most puzzling cases are the people I know to be intelligent and thoughtful, and who don’t claim not to have enough time to read. They simply don’t have any interest, and it puzzles them that other people would consider it a reasonable pastime.

    I know what you mean about the library, and though I’ll still buy books, I believe I’m going to start donating a box of books once per year at least so this already ridiculous doesn’t get completely out of control!

    Thanks for the comment, Rob.

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