Resolving the reading/time conundrum

BY RANDALL RIGSBEE, News + Record Staff
Posted 1/24/20

It used to bother me when I’d hear someone say they don’t have time to read...until I became that person.

While I used to, in the not-distant past, knock out about a book a week, it now takes …

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Resolving the reading/time conundrum

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It used to bother me when I’d hear someone say they don’t have time to read...until I became that person.

While I used to, in the not-distant past, knock out about a book a week, it now takes me weeks (sometimes many of them) to finish a book; and many weeks go by when I don’t even attempt to make a dent in advancing my reading plans.

My interest in the printed word hasn’t dimmed, but the time I devote to poring over them for personal pleasure seems to get crunched tighter every year.

Apparently I’m not alone in the struggle. There are several days throughout the year designated to promoting the enjoyable (and often life-changing) pastime. Thursday, Jan. 23, aka National Reading Day, is one of them. There’s National Library Week in April, and likely a few more observances on the calendar to promote books and reading that I don’t know about.

National Reading Day, observed this week, is aimed at encouraging a love of reading in younger (pre-K through 3rd grade) readers, but I — well into my fifth decade and, thus, no young reader, but also no ageist — see no reason the rest of us can’t likewise benefit from the promotion, too.

I, for one, could use the extra spark to reignite my reading fire.

I first became aware of my diminishing devotion to reading several years ago while slowly working my way through a biography of the late actor and icon John Wayne, the star of “Stagecoach” himself an avid reader, I was delighted to discover. It took me weeks to close the lid on what should have been a fast and breezy read.

But I found, instead, it was taking me an inordinately long time to complete the modest-sized biography of the Duke, reading it, as I was, between work, planning and preparing meals, washing dishes, tending the lawn and the myriad other things that, like a sponge, soak up time in a normal day.

Since then, my life hasn’t become any less cluttered with things to do and I still haven’t resolved the reading/time conundrum.

Since December, I’ve been claiming to be reading “Anna Karenina,” the Leo Tolstoy classic, and the claim isn’t false or fraudulent. It’s only that I’ve been tackling that thick tome at a virtual snail’s pace that, if I keep on the current track, will see me reach the conclusion in another decade, give or take.

And to think that my original plan was to follow “Anna Karenina” with another Tolstoy epic: “War and Peace,” the granddaddy of big books.

But there’s an overlapping problem. Part of my lack of reading progress has been the distraction of ... another book: “Ender’s Game,” by Greensboro-based science fiction virtuoso Orson Scott Card. The book came across my radar at the recommendation of a bibliophile friend, who unreservedly recommended it.

Not making much progress with the Russian classic, I put it aside — for the moment — in favor of “Ender’s Game.”

But just as daily life and all of its time-consuming stuff got in between me and Ms. Karenina, I’m finding the same true with me and “Ender,” a very readable and engaging book my younger self would have absorbed as quickly as we take vitamin D from the sun. Alas, I’m into Week Three now of reading “Ender’s Game,” with “Anna Karenina” — I’m man enough to admit — likely on indefinite hold.

A designated day for reading — and particularly one not even aimed at my demographic — isn’t the sole solution, I know. Maybe the solution is a simple as the venerable Nike slogan — Just Do It!

After all, if there’s time for dirty dishes ...


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