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On "escapist" fiction:

When I hear escapist fiction dismissed with adjectives like "mere," "adolescent" or "mindless," I think: hypocrite. Except for academic texts or yesterday's diary entry, reading is escapism. While I've been writing this column, I've been escaping in a heartbreaking story of a young mother, abandoned by her husband, who loves her consolatory wine so much she's about to lose her children to the county. Is it escapism if where you go is painful? I think it is.
Escapism has become a lazy epithet for genre fiction such as fantasy, science fiction, mystery, romance, westerns. It is often used in opposition to "realism," where the serious reader must stare down the contemporary realities of war, disease, family dysfunction, crime, foreclosure and death. To prefer to read about other worlds or other times is seen as a kind of intellectual cowardice.
"The Lord of the Rings" is classic escapism, for which J.R.R. Tolkien would make no apologies. "I do not accept the tone of scorn or pity with which 'Escape' is now so often used," he wrote. "Why should a man be scorned if, finding himself in prison, he tries to get out and go home? Or if he cannot do so, he thinks and talks about other topics than jailers and prison-walls?"

Really, there's nothing more that needs to be said about that, except: read. Read what you want to, and don't pay attention to the labels other people may try to slap on it.

Knock it Off About Not Having Time To Read:

Nobody is too busy to read. A lot of people like to say they’re too busy to read. But they are liars. What they actually mean is they choose to spend their time doing something other than reading books, which is fine. We’ve all got twenty-four hours in a day and some of us choose to spend those hours reading and others choose to spend their time watching “Dancing With the Stars.”
As readers we’ve all heard it. . . “how do you have time to read books?”

It is, quite possibly, one of the most condescending things a person can say to an avid reader. I’ve said before that when someone asks me how I find time to read, I hear:
“I’m a self-important windbag who is really busy with all the important things that occupy my very precious (and important) time I have so very little of that I must spend it doing important things importantly.”
Miller and her kindred time-hoarders need to knock it off with the “not having time to read” argument. Not only does it imply that people who have time to read are lazy slackers who are ignoring the important things they should be spending their time on, but it makes books less than. It implies that books are not worthy of the very little, precious time we have.

The only part of this I'd change is the unnecessarily snarky line about DWTS, which seems to imply that reality tv is inherently less than books (and maybe it is and maybe it isn't, but claiming it is interferes with the 'we all choose what to do with our time' argument the rest of the post makes, and besides lots of readers watch tv IN ADDITION to reading, you know, AND many others don't have time to read for very good reasons indeed, which does not include any reality tv at all, but may include things like babies, jobs, and, yanno, being married and stuff.)

But I do like the main point, because I firmly believe that you make time for what's important to you. And I'm not saying reading ought to be terribly high up on the importance list - certainly many things should come before your books. Raising your children, loving your neighbor, serving your God ... if you do all the important things and there's no time left for reading, so be it. Your priorities are good. You shouldn't be judged, and neither should I for finding the time to read.



( 35 comments — Leave a comment )
May. 8th, 2012 04:58 pm (UTC)
Great entry!

I just have to say to the person who wrote the second paragraph you quoted: sometimes people have time to read but they are just too durn tired to read without wanting to fall asleep! People like mothers of small children who barely get adequate sleep and spend all day running after toddlers and cleaning up messes and dealing with tantrums. :-P

Hee hee, sorry, just a sore spot for me as a former avid reader who now turns on the occasional lame reality show because I want to stay awake and have time to unwind but know that I will fall asleep if I try to read. :-P

I do want to read more, though! Just need to figure out when and how. But it's on my to do list.
May. 8th, 2012 05:50 pm (UTC)
I can relate at least a little! There are many nights that I know I need to get up and do some kind of activity for a few minutes in order to wake up enough to continue reading or else risk falling asleep with the light on again. =P

Edited at 2012-05-08 05:52 pm (UTC)
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May. 8th, 2012 05:28 pm (UTC)
Yeah that whole thing about not having time to read could be applied to sooooo many things. I'm not generally a busy person, but even when I am going through a busy phase, I try to say, "I haven't made time for it," "I haven't felt like doing that," or "It's not a priority for me right now," instead of claiming I'm too busy to do something. Because that's really what everything comes down to. It's amazing how we find time when something really is a priority for us (whether we force it to be or just want it to be).
May. 8th, 2012 05:29 pm (UTC)
And, like you say, if you don't want to spend time to read, that's okay! Everyone has seasons of life and interests that come and go. It's fine to decide your time will be spent a certain way that doesn't include reading!
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May. 8th, 2012 05:28 pm (UTC)
I read a little bit more now as a Mom than my last five years of singleness. Technology is what robbed me of reading ops in the past. Limiting my time to truly educational or really inspiring either in book, TV, net use has actually helped me keep up with quality, rather than losing time to what I don't. enjoy as much. I believe there is a Charlotte Mason quote about how a mother should always be reading educational and fiction. I agree. A time and place for everything. :) BTW...I MISS YOU!
May. 8th, 2012 05:38 pm (UTC)
Oh, but I don't think Mason means reading to be this daily activity with hrs put into it. But to always have a book at hand when a reading op occurs (few tho they be as a mom).
(no subject) - eattheolives - May. 8th, 2012 05:55 pm (UTC) - Expand
May. 8th, 2012 07:09 pm (UTC)
A lot of my reading time is spent in snatches these days, but that's mostly because I spend far too much 'wind down' time online. I really need to shift priorities. While talking to a friend today, I realized that I need to do this if I want to 1) get back into writing productively and 2) READ productively.

So. Thanks for this post to nudge me to get off the computer and get stuff so I can read the new books I bought this weekend!
May. 8th, 2012 07:36 pm (UTC)
that's mostly because I spend far too much 'wind down' time online.

Me too, I'm afraid. moredetails had the idea of doing an internet-free hour each day - to be used however, but I've found it's a great time for houseworkish things or reading without being interrupted by twitter or fb or emails.

Edited at 2012-05-08 07:36 pm (UTC)
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May. 9th, 2012 01:42 am (UTC)
I <3 this comment. :)

Especially when it comes to relationships - not that I expect friends to drop everything to give me attention, of course. I'm pretty low-maintenance when it comes to that. But if someone consistently never makes time for you ... it does make one feel unimportant.
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May. 8th, 2012 11:38 pm (UTC)
I usually do not say that I don't have time to read but that I don't have much time to read. Even if it's for a few minutes before drifting off to bed, I try and read. I wish it could be more but like you said, other things come first. And as previously mentioned, even if I COULD find the time, which I could carve more time out, certainly, it wouldn't work because I'd fall asleep immediately.

OHhhhh, sleep deprivation. I haz it.

I hope that you understand when I've marveled at how much you read, I do not have the attitude that the second poster is condemning. I would never ever think of you as a lazy slacker that is ignoring important things. It is obvious you fill your life with lots of things for one and even if you didn't, oh well? Who's that to anyone? ;) And I believe that books are certainly worthy of the "very little, precious time we have." Perhaps I should rephrase how I say it. It isn't that I don't have time for books but that reading as much as I'd like doesn't fit my lifestyle right now?? And if I ever say something about wishing I had as much time as you to read, I only mean that I am jealous you read as much as you do. And I am amazed and how much you read, which is a good thing.

Maybe someday I won't fall asleep immediately and I can read more once again!
May. 9th, 2012 01:44 am (UTC)
I should have clarified - I'm not bothered when friends make comments about my reading! They know me, and I've never had someone I knew personally say it in a mean way. But I have had relative strangers indicate that OBVIOUSLY their lives were so much more important because they didn't have time for anything as trivial as reading.

I suppose I just liked the point the writer was making that reading shouldn't be considered a time-waster. It doesn't mean everyone can or should make it a huge priority, but don't look down on those who do.
May. 9th, 2012 05:59 am (UTC)
I like the main point of the 2nd quote as well, and also agree with your clarification on TV. Not everybody who enjoys TV neglects reading, and I'm proof. ;-) Anyway, during busy times I take my Kindle with me almost everywhere just on the off-chance I'm stuck waiting somewhere and can whip it out (I even pulled it out while sitting in traffic one day, because the only time I needed to move was when the light changed and I'd go forward 5 feet and then sit again, lol!). But I love days where I'm all caught up on Things and can sit outside and read for hours.
May. 10th, 2012 03:11 am (UTC)
It's so wonderful to have an ereader handy, especially in lines!
May. 9th, 2012 03:25 pm (UTC)
love this post!

Yes, Yes, YES.... you *do* make time for what's important to you. It may not be much time, but you can give almost anything _some_ time if you're really committed to it. When I was 20, I read "To Kill A Mockingbird" in the space of a week or two. Now I'm 29 and am insanely busy with motherhood; it took me a month to read TKAM again, but that was okay... because I read it. I'd read it in snatches while nursing Summer, or putting the kids to sleep, or when chaos was ensuing all aroudn me and I just needed five minutes with Scout. I have a cookbook in the bathroom because I want to review its recipes again. I pulled out a Milton Friedman book a few days ago just so I could start reading tiny bits in short spurts.

And although mother-hood definitely slows down some of my reading, I am also keenly aware that I let technology rob me of reading time all too often. Right now both children are napping so I could be reading instead of LJing or Facebooking or blogging. I fall prey to the siren call of the interwebz all too often. When we move in June (Lord willing!), we won't have internet at the house for at least the first several months. I'm going to miss it in some ways, but I'm also looking forward to books being the main form of entertainment again.
May. 10th, 2012 03:05 am (UTC)
My name is Marie, and I approve of this comment!

What you say is wise and true.
( 35 comments — Leave a comment )