Love books, but don’t have the time (or the inclination) to pick one up?
This may seem like a problem that only plagues the weak and irresolute. Surely intelligent people overcome this stupidity of ‘not feeling like reading’ through sheer willpower?
Well, not really.
Unbeknownst to the vast majority of us who love to go on the I’m-not-reading-as-much-as-I-used-to guilt trip, a lot of professional writers suffer from reader’s block too.
It’s very common for book lovers to slow down or stop at some point because of a career, parenthood or other situations that take priority over Jack Kerouac’s On the Road. I’m no different. Making time for a quick read has become harder in the past year. All of a sudden, reading isn’t a pleasure anymore, it’s a chore.
Even the thrill of opening new books is dying out.
My bookcase reminds me every day that there are books to be read and that I’m being a lazy ass. It holds old, yellowing favourites, half-read books and brand-new ones that haven’t even been unwrapped yet.
I can’t avoid them, but I can ignore them.
I make lame excuses — like the next hour would be best spent cleaning the kitchen or that I’m more in the mood for playing Monument Valley on the iPad. I promise myself that sometime soon, I’ll pick up a book, snuggle with it on the couch, give the words my undivided attention and go on an adventure.
Maybe we’ll even make it to bed together.
But the first step is always the hardest when you’re trying to rekindle an old passion. I needed a plan to fall in love again.
The first date
Picking up The Hitchhiker’s Guide to The Galaxy *.
The hook was in. There’s nothing more hilarious than Douglas Adams explaining Vogons and Pan Galactic Gargle Blasters (the best drink in existence). Funny is very good on a first date. I couldn’t put the book down because I was laughing too hard.
(* P. G. Wodehouse and Jane Austen were also high on my list, but you can’t go out on a first date with three books. So I chose the one with robots.)
Now that the flirty stage had been dealt with, it was time to get down to more serious literature to show that I meant business.
Second base: Short stories.
Something quick, well-written and thought-provoking to get me in the mood. Every time I had a few free minutes at work or at home, I courted short stories online. Some of the best were:
The Last Question — Isaac Asimov
Bullet in the Brain — Tobias Wolff
Hills Like White Elephants — Ernest Hemingway
For Esme — With Love and Squalor — J. D. Salinger
Pygmalion — John Updike
Harrison Bergeron — Kurt Vonnegut
Happy Endings — Margaret Atwood
(And there are so many more if you want to explore good literature in the time it takes to finish a meal. This Reddit thread mentions some excellent ones I’ve missed.)
Your place or mine?
This is the big one.
This is the point when I actually have to read a book long enough to take it to bed with me. I’m a little apprehensive about how tonight will work out. I’m months out of practice. Will I like the book? Will the book like me? Or is it just a one-night stand?
I’m going to wear my most comfortable pair of pajamas, pour myself a drink and find out.