There is something that annoys me no end. It occurs when I or another book-lover start to talk about books and the person we are conversing with makes some high-handed comment that goes something like this: “I wish I had the luxury of time to read!” This seems to me to be an insult-in-disguise, as if I must be wasting my time if I’m caught reading a book, especially a novel of all things.
If you dig further, you’ll probably find the comment is made out of insecurity. Perhaps I came off sounding too intellectual and they felt inferior. I hope not, but it could be the case. Or maybe they used to love to read, but seriously haven’t the time or (more likely) the priority to read and so they feel guilty.
Whatever the case, I am trying to learn to not take it personally. But I started thinking about the whole thing of books and luxuries. In the area of the world that I live in, we (me included) take books for granted. We have access to libraries, bookstores, used book sales, interlibrary loan systems, and book selling websites. School, college, kindles… Books are even pitched by the hundreds by thrift stores that do not know what to do with all of the ones they receive as donations. However, in other parts of the world, to own just one book is a pleasure that many people don’t have. Even being able to read is a luxury and could change a whole family’s life forever if just one child could learn.
Time to read is a luxury as well. I am realizing this as my life changes. When I was a homeschooled teenager, I read all day for school and then read some more afterwards for ‘fun’. I’m finding I can’t read as many books in a year as I used to. Other basic things like cleaning, working, grocery shopping, sleeping, taking time for spiritual growth, etc. take precedence. However, I have learned to rearrange some things and that has been helping lately. I’ve found that when I set parameters around certain time-wasters [ie, pinterest!], I can then set reading as a higher priority.
Although I wouldn’t consider reading as essential to life as meal-preparing for example, it vies as a close level category. Why? Because reading affects quality of life. When we read, we are open to learning. When we can learn and grow, we can stretch beyond what was previously possible. I don’t mean that a person will ‘get rich quick’ if they are able to read. But the quality of one’s mind and decisions stemming from that will be greatly different than someone who chooses to remain un-self-schooled. Reading and learning go hand in hand.
I notice this effect in the community in which I live. I don’t abide in a particularly affluent neighborhood. Along with living here comes stereotypical opinions from others. It is true, a lot of my neighbors are generally unread, unskilled, and spend their time choosing to engage in unrefined activities. However, there are a few folks here I’ve come to know who are different in that they are principled, learned (by choice), and their lives have more order and structure. They may not have a lot of money, yet their quality of life is elevated because of their values (usually honoring God falls into place here), and their determination to be open to learning in the world around them. Perhaps what is the most mind-blowing is that both of these sets of people have access to a perfectly good library within possible walking distance!
The luxury of time to read? Time may be a luxury depending on what season of life you are in but if one has available access to books, reading should not be a luxury, rather it should be an appreciated necessity!
PS- Many utilize the more trending medium of audiobooks to get more ‘reading’ into their busy schedule. This is perfectly acceptable, as it still incorporates the power of story and learning into one’s life. I use the term ‘reading’ in this article to include ‘listening’ as well.