I find myself particularly intrigued by younger people who have heard their cohort called “The Dumbest Generation,” who are continually told that their addiction to multiple simultaneous stimuli renders them incapable of the seriously focused and singleminded attention that the reading of big thick books requires. Some of them are defiant in response to such charges, but most at least half-believe them. Told over and over again that they can’t read, they begin to wonder why they should even try.
I once heard someone make the comment that we spend most of our lives staring at glowing rectangles.
I have a list of books that I want to have read. Sometimes I want to have read a book so badly that it sucks the joy out of the actual process of reading. I cram. Then, when someone wants to talk about the book, I can’t remember a thing about it. I can’t even tell them what I liked or disliked about it.
As a child I read voraciously. Now I find it difficult to sit still in silence and JUST read. There are occasions when I am overcome with the desire to sit and read, and it usually happens during the most inopportune times. When I’m shelving books in the fiction section of the library, for example, all of a sudden my legs start to give the moment I find an interesting book and I have to fight not to sit down in the middle of the aisle, propped against a book cart. It helps to think about how disgusting public library carpets are. But I wish those moments would happen when I’m in my room, staring at my own bookshelves.