Sound dreary? It isn't. For one thing, life is short, and I don't really have enough hours in it to read all the purpose-driven material that I want. But for another, those "fun" things, to me, aren't fun. Before long my eyes glaze over and I find I'm not picking up that book any more to continue on with it. I'm back to a full slate of motivated, "serious" reading.
What was the last thing I read for fun? Trying to recall... Two or three years ago I would sometimes peruse the paperback racks at the library, looking for something I might find entertaining. Mainly I had no luck. The racks there were filled with novels from series that for the most part lacked the first volume (presumably it was always checked out).
I remember going on a little vacation with Kimmie and Robin back in 1990--something we very seldom ever did, partly due to lack of money. This was a relatively cheap getaway to the Gulf Islands nearby. We were going to stay in rustic little cabins, ride our bicycles, and just relax. I took along some light "summer" reading, the sci-fi novel Count Zero by William Gibson. It had been a while since I'd read any science fiction--a staple of my youth--and Gibson was its hottest practitioner at that time. Here was my chance to kick back and enjoy some escapist fare.
Sitting at a quiet table in a cabin on Mayne Island, while deer moved silently outside, eating the motel owner's flowers, I tucked in to Gibson's cyberpunk novel. I felt a bit of a buzz as I started, at the imaginative settings and his tough, cynical style, but before long it palled on me. I finished the book, but I was not drawn in and carried along by the current of story as I used to be as a boy. I wasn't able to fully buy into the characters or the situation, even though I really liked the idea of futuristic hacker-jockeys moving through a virtual-reality space, breaking into data banks (I think that's what was in the book). It seemed that sci-fi reading was something I could not go back to, any more than I could go back to playing with Hot Wheels or Lego. Had I become entertainment-proof?
Well, my reading may not be "fun", but I do enjoy it. To me, this is fun. And it's hard to engage me in a story. Mostly what I think is, "so what?" Of course, I'm writing a king-sized story of my own now--one that I intend to be readable by me or people like me (if any such exist). I need to be reading about stuff that matters, and therefore that's also what I need to be writing about.
So right now it's Dante's Inferno for me. Not "reading lite". Maybe I need my own marketing phrase--how about "reading hevvy"?