Wednesday, 5 December 2012

On Reading

Once upon a time, I used to read for fun.

Okay, I exaggerate for dramatic effect; I still do read for fun.  But I remember the simple joys of my childhood, when I would get so engrossed in a book that I'd literally read and walk.  Not always the wisest thing you can do at boarding school.  But with limited options in such an environment, and a social circle that was always limited at best, literature was a constant source of leisure.  Indeed, I'd generally burn through whatever books I'd brought with me for the term in a couple of weeks, and need to seek satisfaction elsewhere.  At home, too, I'd read for enjoyment; my activities at school were not born of lack of alternatives.

These days, while I still like to read, I don't do it nearly as much for fun.  And there's a simple reason, which is that I spend a lot of time reading research papers; an average of an hour a day at least.  Now, don't mistake me: I like that too, apart from when I find out I've been scooped.  But it's a qualitatively different experience.  It demands more attention and focus, and thus is draining rather than relaxing.  It also leaves me with less of a desire to crack a book for leisure purposes.  And that's a little sad.

As an additional aside, I'm also a big fan of physical books.  I'm not opposed to eReaders, and I certainly see their advantages.  But dammit, technology is not going to stop me having my own library! Hell, a good third of the stuff I shipped to Oz when I moved here was books, and I don't regret the cost in the least.

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