I’ve recently made the transition to nine to five life of the worker and I find myself trying to fit my reading around the rhythms of my new life. A few chapters on the train in the morning through bleary eyed half sleep, a few on the way back squashed in peak hour traffic. Some more snatches of reading in between skimming the papers and keeping up to date with work reading.
The kind of reading I do has changed too. I find myself attracted to stories of utopias and dystopias. There’s something about being settled in a pattern that makes one attracted to the alternate visions of reality (if anyone knows where I can find a second hand copy of Brave New World let me know!)
There’s no time anymore to scour second hand bookshops and stay up enthralled in new book when you come home exhausted (even from a job I love) and fall asleep at depressingly early hours. There’s no more languor of endless escapism enraptured in a new world.
A lot of friends tell of similar experiences. When they start working or have kids its easy to become overwhelmed with the responsibilities of their new life and time to read for pleasure becomes scarce. Or conversely pregnancy or illness provide an unexpected opportunity to indulge in what has become a forgotten pleasure.
It made me think, is reading an essentially bourgeois activity for students and those with endless leisure time, kind of like golf? Or is there something more essential about it? I always thought there was something egalitarian about reading, more so than any other art form being so varied and relatively accessible.
I often wonder why humans find art so essential. Is it because we are essentially social animals needing to communicate, express ourselves and understand others? Or is there something about seeing life reflected that helps us give meaning to our experiences?
I always find myself out of sorts when I haven’t read something purely pleasurable for a while. It’s like something is missing and I need to come out of myself and see the world through another person’s eyes. Then there is the aesthetic pleasure of simply enjoying the contours of a perfectly formed piece of prose that invokes exotic scents and colours from the ordinary and extraordinary aspects of life.
Why do you read? How has your reading changed through different phases of your life?