Biting Back at Reality

Pippa and I went to the library tonight, and I took out a couple of books. Now, this seems (on the face of it) a plausible enough gesture, until you recall that the last time I went to the library I took out Ricoeur’s Memory, History, Forgetting, — a 600-page tome that I haven’t even begun reading. I thought of a couple more books I ought to be reading to prepare for my spring series of talks, and today I received twenty-odd papers to mark, with a set of final exams coming in next week.

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.

This will not do — no longer.

I’m about to head upstairs, where I will read a chapter or two of Worship as Meaning before I go to sleep, no matter what.
I will learn to read again; I will not give in to attention entropy.

5 comments / Add your comment below

  1. i do the same thing with the library, but only worse, i’ll end up returning the books late. And i usually like to take out a lot of books. So not only am i depriving people of a lot of books, but then i’m late with them, and then i pay a bunch in fines. I always try to think of my fees as that they are helping to pay for the libraries services, considering that we don’t have to directly pay any fees to take out books. The library is quite amazing like that. The library is my friend.

  2. Look at it this way–you are giving those books a circ so that the library will know someone wants them and they won’t be so tempted to get rid of them when they’re weeding! I’m taking a wild guess that you’re not hogging a copy of the newest James Patterson but more likely the books that need a nice trip out of the library from time to time to justify their shelf-space. Which isn’t to say you shouldn’t live up to your resolution to actually READ them…

  3. “Attention entropy” – now I know what I suffer from! Although, I tend to actually PURCHASE the books I never read instead of borrowing them…

  4. Note to self: Use entropy in conversation before bedtime…commit it to memory. Maybe I can work it into my own blog…hmmmm. Thanks, AKMA. 🙂

  5. I have a similar problem. My interests in reading never coincide with the classes I am currently taking in seminary – so instead of reading for my classes I’m working my way through Geoffery Wainwright’s Doxology & his theological biography of Lesslie Newbigin! So I have all these assignments piling up while I check out book after book from the library to either sit on my shelf or take up my “valuable” time. If only my teachers understood to leave the reading schedule open so I could read whatever my scattered brain is pushing me to read!

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