Why I Hate to Read

I read a lot. Mostly what I read is work related in some way. Rarely do I read just for the pleasure of it. Yet, in spite of the title of this post, I love to read. I read for information and intelectual stimulation. I could read all day every day if I had the chance. I especially love to read good novels—for their literary merit as well as for their entertainment value.

I don’t read many novels though. As a writer and publisher it’s a sad situation to be in. It’s not that I don’t want to read more novels. I just don’t have the leisure to spend with them. When I get involved in a good novel, I get so enthralled I don’t want to put it down. And when that happens, nothing else gets done.

I don’t have the discipline to put the book down when it’s time to work on other projects. Other things that need my attention get put aside, and I will create any necessary justification to keep reading. I say things to myself like, “When I get to the end of this chapter, I’ll…” But by then maybe I’m hungry. So I’ll fix something to eat. And I can’t work while I’m eating, right? But I can read while I’m eating. It’s always like that. Eventually, instead of making excuses to keep reading I start rationalizing why I should finish the book as soon as possible.

So I’m doing myself a favor by not to do anything else until I’ve finished the book. The trouble is, I’m a slow reader. That’s why a long time ago I gave up reading novels. Mostly.

Last week I was on something of a vacation. Not entirely, but I had fewer responsibilities than usual. That’s when I noticed on the shelf a paperback copy of Lucifer’s Hammer, an end-of-the-world dramma by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle published in 1977. Of course I’d seen it there many times, and others in my family who’d read it had told me what a good story it was. But, as I said, I’d given up novels, so I labelled it “not for me.” But last week I thought, hmmm, maybe…. Even as I pulled the book off the shelf I was telling myself what a bad idea it was, knowing what would happen.

It took four days to get through all 640 pages. It took the weekend to recuperate and get caught up on things I let slide. I did enjoy it. Come back another day and I’ll tell you what I think about it.