Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Reading for a hobby

Have you ever paused with a pen in the middle of filling in a questionnaire? For me it happens when I come to the space where you fill your hobbies. Can I legitimately include ‘reading’, I always wonder? It makes me sound so dull. Not so many people appreciate a good book, and I guess that it’s that which I have in mind.

Will? I Am! I only touch on that subject in a couple of places. I refer to the magic of reading, and how it’s a thought experiment in itself to look at a bunch of letters lined up on the page and read meaning into them. But I do go to a good deal of trouble in discussing that non-hobby (perhaps I’m reluctant to call reading a ‘hobby’ because the word sounds so casual and shallow).

I’m reasonably happy with how I handle the exercise. I hope that I don’t belabor the point. However, this is a book after all. Starting from
Books as traps through to Raison d’etre—ten short chaplets—I develop a series of thoughts concerning the written word.

First, authors must take care with what they write, lest it provokes a backlash. Next, a book’s ideas should be able to stand on their own and be considered in isolation. A good author may express poor thinking, and a poor author is not necessarily bad. It may save you time and energy to filter your input, but that may lead to your missing out. In fact, it is even possible to learn from ‘dumb’ ideas (apologies to people who can’t speak).

I urge my book’s audience not to be too selective, especially when weighty issues are being addressed, and I suggest that they don’t pay too much attention to an author’s qualifications and moral standing. I close off the passage by providing a tip on how to decide between ideas, and I compare reading to listening to music. We naturally gravitate to those whose work strikes a receptive chord. 

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