Sunday, March 06, 2005

On not reading but wishing to

I have lots of sympathy with a recent post on AKMA's Random Thoughts headed Biting Back at Reality all about the problems of never being able to find time to read, including the following:
As I wandered haplessly toward the library check-out desk, I realized that this constituted a pathetic charade: since I no longer have time to read, I go through the motions by taking books out, and then returning them a week or so later, as though I’d read them. Not only is that embarrassingly irrational behavior, it deprives other Evanstonians of the use of good books while I sit beside the stack of books on my desk, wishing they would read themselves to me while I struggle with my round of tasks.
My problem, in addition to the endless scripts to mark, manuscripts to evaluate and university admin. to do, is that I am constantly so tired that whenever I do sit down to read, I am asleep within 10 minutes, however much I am enjoying the book. But if I go to bed earlier, I'll have less time to catch up on my tasks, which gives me still less time to read. The best solution to the problem, I find, is public transport. I always take the train now on long (work related) journeys; I take the bus to work when I can and occasionally get to fly abroad. It's remarkable how much one can get read on public transport.

The sad alternatives, for me, are to go for a variety of strategies akin to AKMA's getting the book out of the library. Like video-ing a television programme so that you feel less bad about missing it, but still never watching it, I occasionally print off a journal article, as if the fact of its going through my printer makes any difference to my not reading it. Or I photocopy the journal article from an older pre-electronic journal, then return the journal to the library, as if the all important work is done. Or now, one can even save a journal article onto one's hard drive, the environmentally friendly way not to read an article.

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