My wife is wrapping Christmas presents for the kids while I sit on the sofa nursing a pulled muscle in my back. We are listening to Chuck Hooten’s latest album. A new puppy is interrupting the gift-wrapping enterprise. I watch helplessly.
My temporary immobility has afforded the opportunity to read fiction.
Reading fiction is a sabbatical exercise for me. I used to only read highfalutin fiction—you know, like Dostoyevsky and Dickens. I read some Thomas Hardy over the summer, finding myself lost in the pastoral countryside of Wessex. I love these classics. But Alan Jacobs’ The Pleasures of Reading in an Age of Distraction is helping me get over the need to only read “the greats.”
So is my need for non-productivity.
The novel on the sofa next to me is unlikely to enrich my life. And I will never cite this novel in a blog, in a paper, or in a book. It is a “sabbatical exercise” because no productivity is attached to the turning of those pages.
I need to read something without my trusty .38 black uni-ball gel pen in my hand.
I need books that do not beckon my careful practices of annotation.
Over the past 3 years I’ve read thousands of pages. I’ve written two books clocking in at 170,000 words. I have preached and lectured my heart out. These are facts.
Facts that require some fiction.