- to say he read something;
- because he thinks it's "good for him";
- JUST to make subway rides go faster;
- because he's lonely and can't figure out what else to do before bed.
And much of the time I'm absorbing the contents of the book, especially with nonfiction, I'm thinking one of the following:
- "Yeah, I'm learning stuff!"
- "Yeah, I'm developing a certain part of my brain that will help me stave off senility decades from now."
- "Yeah, I'm working up intelligent-sounding dinner conversation for some dinner party I'm bound to be invited to someday."
But give me an invitation to a dinner party, and I'll probably never finish the book. I'll be too busy wondering how much to spend on the wine.
Makes me think I should join a book club, so that the social, interactive elements of reading can be put to much more direct unashamed use. Seriously, why else spend so much time alone putting the details of Teddy Roosevelt's presidency inside my brain? Unless I'm really into Teddy Roosevelt, it's ridiculous to think I'm improving myself by reading about what Teddy Roosevelt had for breakfast on the morning he brokered a peace treaty between Japan and Russia. I didn't know anything about the man. And now that I've learned this outstanding fact about his life, I still haven't shared it with anyone, because I'm still pretty sure I don't care.
It's my fault. I do pick up certain things because I think I should. I often worry I know too much about The Beatles or The Smiths or Monty Python. Knowing that Teddy Roosevelt brokered that peace treaty between Japan and Russia in 1905 is, so I hope, expanding my world view, and in some way giving The Beatles a greater context.
Perhaps if I just admit to myself that any book I'm reading that's not about The Beatles will only hold HALF my attention, then I am bound to feel less guilty about my reading choices.