The other day I went to Barnes and Noble and the unthinkable happened…
I didn’t buy a book.
I went to the bookstore and I didn’t purchase any books. Not even one that I thought looked cool but knew deep in my soul I would never read….a.k.a a quarter of the books currently in my possession.
I went home with nothing.
Once or twice my attention was stolen by an intriguing premise but ultimately I would place them back on the shelf, forgotten.
I couldn’t figure it out.
I have been a reader my whole life. Why was I suddenly feeling so indifferent to literature. Why couldn’t I experience the same level of excitement that I normally feel while lurking around a bookstore? Why did I feel so apathetic about the whole enterprise?
I’ve given it some thought and I think I have come up with a semi-rational explanation for my sudden reading slump.
This will seem like a shallow and potentially absurd complaint but…it felt like every book I came across was trying too hard to change my life.
When I read the dust jacket of all these lovingly crafted tales, most of them were imploring me to let them teach me about the human condition or understanding life and love and….I wasn’t interested.
That was it. That was the problem.
I didn’t want to be molded into a better human being.
I didn’t want to have my world-view reshaped. I didn’t want to have all the ills of the world revealed to me or have some nihilistic hippies wax poetic about the futility of existence.
I wanted to have fun reading.
That’s not to say I never like a transformative reading experience or that books with poignant messages don’t have their place, but every so often I just want to read.
I want to retreat into a fictional world for a couple of hours and have it not mean anything.
I want to laugh and cheer and get excited purely for the sake of it and not because it “starts a conversation” or “it’s bringing awareness to something” but because it brings me joy. Maybe I will forget about it later on in life since it gave me no permanent message to cling to, but it will have brightened my day, or week, or even month.
Is that so wrong?
Am I a pleb for having a desire to escape from the intellectual questions of our time in favor of placing a metaphorical ice-pack upon my throbbing nerves?
If it is, maybe I don’t want to be right.
Hell, I didn’t become a reader because I was interested in changing the world. I did it because it allowed me access to worlds I would otherwise have no entrance to, meet people I normally couldn’t.
Not every reading experience has to be meaningful.
Sometimes all I need is a vacation from reality.
If any of you have recommendations for a good read I am all ears.