I just finished reading the first book of my retirement, Version Control by Dexter Palmer. It was complicated. Very good, but complicated, a mix of literary and science fiction that took me a while to find the rhythm of; once I did, though, it made me stay up until 2am last night and then power through the rest today.
I don’t read nearly as much as I used to, though.
One reason is that I actually find it physically difficult; since I’ve developed allergies, my eyes water a lot, and extended reading sessions are a sure way to have me weeping constantly. I put up with it when the reading’s good, but if it’s merely “okay” it’s easy to make excuses and just do something else that won’t entail me wiping my eyes every few minutes.
Another is a sort of cyclical issue that I find myself dealing with at almost all times. Biorhythms are complete and total nonsense, but I find that my tastes for “things what I do with leisure time” follow these sort of boom-bust cycles that last days, weeks, or months. I’ll go three months without turning my PS4 on, then (like right now) find myself having to sleep with wrist braces because I’m spending so much time playing vidja. I won’t touch a puzzle book for a few weeks, then power through half of one in three days. And I’ve been in a long, long drought of can-be-arsed energy when it comes to reading fiction, particularly novels I haven’t read already.
That distinction is important. Right now I really, really want to reread the entire Culture series by Iain Banks for the… fourth? fifth? time, even though there’s a stack of unread novels sitting on my kitchen island. The only reason Version Control happened is because it’s a library book and I already had to renew it once. Now that I finished it, I may allow myself to dive back into that world of dry wit and unparalleled futuristic utopia as a bit of an escape. But it’ll only take me a couple of weeks to reread all nine books, and then I’ll be right back where I started.
I wonder if it’s at least partly a move away from passive entertainment. I don’t watch many movies or TV shows either, and limit myself to a single episode per day even when I’m in the middle of an excellent show, like The Expanse right now or Altered Carbon a couple of weeks ago. Reading is more pleasurable, the mindscape always more powerful and expressive than a moving picture, but it’s still linear consumption of someone else’s work.
I’m not sure. What I do know is that I want to write more, and to write well I need to read more, even if that means upsetting my own… mediarhythms, let’s say. We’ll see if forcibly pushing myself out of that lack of desire works, or if it just makes things worse.