We’d intended to walk to a coffee shop near my residence to enjoy bonbons with our beverages. Unfortunately, the morning rain altered our plans. Instead, we chose to settle into two Queen Anne chairs by a picture window in the lobby of the building where I live, our hot drinks fresh from a vending machine.
I admit I’d looked forward to a bit of chocolate, but the change of plans didn’t disappoint. More than chocolate, I welcome a good chat about books and my friend feels the same. No sooner had we settled into our enveloping chairs than she reached into her handbag to retrieve a paperback and this she handed to me.
“It’s about how social media damages our society,” she summarized. “Would you be interested?”
Is a male dog interested in fire hydrants? “Of course, I’m interested.” I nodded as I began to thumb through the book’s pages.
With that question settled, my friend moved on to recommend a movie she’d liked well enough to view twice. “It airs on television tonight at 9 p.m.” She imagined I’d welcome the news but I surprised her.
“But that’s the hour of my evensong.”
Knowing I was an atheist, my friend squinted at me as if I’d affirmed Donald Trump was the Chosen One. Naturally, I felt obliged to hurry on.
“By 9 o’clock, I’m tucked up in bed with a book, satisfied that neither a rap on my door nor a phone call will interrupt my peace. I wouldn’t trade that bliss for a movie–not even if you bribed me with two pounds of chocolate.”
The woman in the chair opposite me nodded. She seemed to understand, perfectly. Reading is such a great pleasure, I’m forced to wonder why fewer and fewer people do it. A recent Harris Poll suggests many people forgo a quiet hour of reading, preferring to be distracted by social media, video games, and smartphones. Even so, some innate part of them seems to recognize they should read more. Nearly 84% of those surveyed lamented they spent too little time with books.
They have good reason to wring their hands. Studies show people who read on a regular basis live 23 months longer than non-readers. Memory declines at a slower pace, too.
So, why do people say they want to read more but don’t? I can hazard a guess. The rewards reading confers may be too delayed. Who wants to wait for old age to reap the benefit? If I ran a library, I’d have a wing dedicated to bonbons.