A few days ago, I sat in a dentist’s chair reading my Kindle. I always carry the Kindle in order to endure the ritual interval between my appointment time and the actual laying on of hands. When the hygienist appeared, she asked me what I was reading. When I told her, she said something like, “That’s too heavy for me. My job’s stressful enough as it is. I read to relax–James Paterson, Lee Child. I don’t want to think.” I nodded because what else could I do? She had the drill.
The book in question was Novelists and Novels by Harold Bloom, a series of essays I’d ordered by mistake and decided to keep. It contains book reviews (some very unlikely, I think), and Bloom’s musings on the decline of “high” culture. It’s interesting if taken in small doses. I’ve had it for over a year, and I’ve managed to get through 44%.
I wish I’d told the young lady cleaning my teeth that she had only one life and every moment counts. Reading to simply pass the time or put yourself to sleep wastes the most precious asset you have. And good books can help you relax, too–they divert the reader from the humdrum grit of everyday life, and give her something else to think about. It doesn’t have to be the academic meandering of a public intellectual–many wonderful stories are told in good books.
The New Hope Tour (Cont’d)
This is the Academy Inn (actually the Carolina Inn) which serves as the location for crucial scenes In A Hollow Cup, Gods and Lesser Men and the upcoming Titan’s Brood. It has been Chapel Hill’s “inn” since the 1920s.