Athe Oklahoma Center for the Book Award dinner, one of the speaker’s said it was a great day when the 230+ there were joining the Center to “promote the past, current, and future works of Oklahoma authors; promote the literary heritage of the state; and encourage reading for pleasure by Oklahomans of all ages.”
There was an emphasis on reading for pleasure by Oklahomans of all ages. I wonder how many of us have abandoned “reading for pleasure”. I remember sitting up late into the night reading my book, occasionally with a mom saying you better go to sleep or you won’t want to get up in the morning, but not really caring. And once at work a colleague told me she read fantasy novels because it was just like eating candy. (And a lot less fattening.) But like everyone I find myself thinking about work, home issues, staring at nonsensical television and watching way too much news by people intent on hearing their own voices. And way too little time reading for pleasure.
So it was very interesting to find this on Esquire website, that Peter Martin has this to say about the pleasures of reading.
“But then, a couple weeks ago, I decided to pick up Peter Godwin’s When a Crocodile Eats the Sun, which a friend had recommended. It wasn’t something out of the canon that I hoped would come up in conversation with my boss, or at a party filled with beautiful Ivy League women or even girls from Wellesley. Just a book, by a guy I’d never heard of, on a topic I didn’t think I cared about. As I read it, something felt different. Instead of obligation, I was compelled by interest. And it was glorious. Liberating. Like I’d been eating at Long John Silver’s for the last ten years and only just now realized that that’s not what people meant when they talked about seafood. I finished that book and chose another. When it didn’t captivate me within thirty pages, I moved on to another (Mark Helprin’s three-year-old Winter’s Tale). I found myself rushing to get out of work so I could read on the subway ride home. When an express train pulled up, I’d wait for the local. Now that I’m a reader (who’s currently reading the forthcoming Apologize, Apologize! by Elizabeth Kelly), I’m not bothered when my plane’s stuck on the tarmac or a friend shows up late at the bar. I have a book. My book. I can wait.
And here’s a slightly different take on reading for pleasure in this review of Victor Nell’s Lost in a Book: The Psychology of Reading for Pleasure by Jenny Davidson at Light Reading blog.
And when I put pleasure reading in Google I find lots of College/High School students complaining about required reading assignments, which have negated any attempt to have time for pleasurable reading. Maybe teachers should allow one “free” book each semester. It could be its own valuable lesson.
I need to start reading again for the pure pleasure of it. Several books await, with my name on them. Who hasn’t lost themself in the printed word, oblivious to laundry, children, spouses, work and sleep? Why not give ourselves the present of selfless moments of reading pleasure.
So in the words of Archie Goodwin, Nero Wolfe’s confidant, “Go to Hell I’m Reading.”