November 18, 2008: Medicinal Reading

After Demon Bound, I picked up John Crowley’s Lord Byron’s Novel, which I borrowed (for the third time) from the library. I made it to page 64, which was further than I’ve ever gotten.

Then, Monday morning, I realized I don’t want to read it. Definitely not now, and maybe not ever. It’s a book I think I ought to like, I ought to read, but I’m not sure it’s actually something I will read. This feels different than all the times I pick up a book, read a little, and think, “Not now.” It’s also different than the times I pick up a book, read a little, and think, “Never.” It’s as if this book — the Crowley — is something medicinal, something I take or do because it’s good for me, not because I get any pleasure from it.

When I realized that, I realized I had a few more medicinal books in my library stack. A couple were books I’d probably enjoy if I were actually in the mood, but I was holding onto them because I thought I ought to read them, not because I’d get any pleasure from it.

I’ll be bringing them back to the library. The pleasure of reading is too important to my well-being for me to sully it by forcing myself to read things I’m resisting.

And it’s not like I’ll have nothing to read if I bring half a dozen books back to the library. I’ll still have 20-plus books out, an uncounted number of unread books I own, and a whole world of keepers, things I read and loved so much I know I’ll re-read them (someday).

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