Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Read It and Weep

~ Mark Twain

To a lifelong daily reader, this New Yorker article about the decline of reading's popularity is more chilling than any headline about nukes in Iran. Could it really be that reading, for the sake of reading, is gradually becoming extinct?

I can't imagine not reading for fun. I've been doing it since I was a pre-schooler. How is it possible that a person would prefer to watch another lame hour of caterwauling on "American Idol" instead of reading a gripping, well-written story?

One of the most somber days of my life was when I realized that there isn't enough time to read every book I want to read before I die. As a teenager, when I liked a book, I would read it over and over again for sheer enjoyment. Now, deep into midlife, I don't allow myself such a luxury. The clock is ticking, and I haven't finished reading Dante's "Inferno," or even half of Shakespeare's plays. (And I dared to call myself an English major!)

There is a pile of fiction and non-fiction bestsellers stacked on the floor next to my bed. My goal is to read a book a week. But, as I dash through life "getting and spending," if I finish two books in a month, I'm fortunate. People who are close to me know that I love to read, and they shop accordingly for my gifts. So despite my best efforts, the tower of unread bedside books builds ever higher.

That's okay. I'd much rather be backed up on reading than on reruns.