September 12, 2010

Lazy Sunday Thoughts: I Want to Be Alone

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Sawyer enjoyed reading alone. (Lost ABC)

Wow. There are so many things about this article from The New York Times that makes my head nearly explode. First, notice how it's not in the books section or even the tech section. No, no, it's in the Fashion and Style section. Oh boy.

Let's move on. Some of the people in this article are excited that people are interrupting them while they read. Really. This makes them happy. When I'm reading in public, I pull out the invisible cone of silence. Not that I would mind talking to you about what I'm reading, of course, but I think most people would make a few comments and then respectfully let you have your time alone with your book. I look at reading time as "me time" even if it is out in public. There are lots of moms who cherish the hour of swimming lessons, or soccer practice because other than occasionally yelling, "Yeah, I see you honey. That was awesome. No really, I'm watching," they get that time for themselves and reading is a peaceful respite from Mommy Duties.

And why is there a 'stigma' about reading alone? What's that? That you're literate? That you enjoy learning new things? Are these bad things? It doesn't mean you have no friends. It means you've chosen a worthwhile activity for spending your free time. Being alone doesn't make you lonely.

So if public readers are "stigmatized" don't feel sorry for us, we probably didn't know there was a reason to feel bad for us in the first place. We don't need a ribbon or a benefit concert. We're not trying to impress you with our new found coolness either (because apparently "buying literature has become cool again"), we're just trying to read.

28 comments :

  1. Oh, I love this! I'm just like you, and pull an invisible cone of silence over me. (I've said that -- "Yes, dear! I am watching!" -- so many times, I've lost count.) Actually, my biggest pet peeve right now is my dear 4 year old's determination to get my attention when I'm reading: she grabs my face and turns it to look at her. Argh! Don't touch me: I'm reading!

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  2. The photo and caption of Sawyer says it all. Yup--reading is a private time. Don't bother me!

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  3. I don't mind someone asking about the book I'm reading, I like to share it, at least to a point. At work though I always get interrupted by 'you read a lot. I wish I could read that much' yeah I could read more if people didn't keep interrupting me to tell me something I already know! If I had an e-reader though I would get annoyed f people just wanted to look at it and weren't actually interested in what I was reading.

    Since when does reading have o be cool? Surely it's about the enjoyment not about a 'look'. I happen to think it's cool but that's because I appreciate reading not as some sort of style choice.

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  4. I prefer not to be interrupted either while I'm reading, for the most part. Love the picture of Marilyn Monroe!

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  5. Melissa- haha! You need a new rule: No talking while Mommy is reading. lol!

    Lucy- Yeah, I'd be all, "don't touch my stuff." And yeah, we were trendy before it was a trend and will still be reading once it's over.

    Stephanie- Isn't that a great pic? I thought since I had Sawyer for the ladies, I needed Marilyn for the guys. ;)

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  6. Amy- I use that Sawyer pic whenever possible. :)

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  7. Well, if that article was trying to make me feel like I have a big fat L on my forehead for Loser, they're the failures. I feel no shame.

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  8. Haven't read the article yet, but! I HATE when people try to talk to me when I'm reading. I don't mind if they want to know the title and a quick summary, but it ALWAYS continues into "oh you like to read? are you smart? how many books do you read a week?" and a) that sort of conversation takes up too much of my time when I'm trying to READ and b) while it seems like a friendly sort of conversation on the surface, it's almost always said in this condescending way! Like I'm a loser for reading on the bus instead of staring blankly out the window.

    Now I stick my earphones in as well and as long as I don't make eye contact people tend to leave me alone. :D

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  9. Love this post! I definitely agree. When I'm reading in public, I'm reading. It's my time to relax and get lost in a book. I didn't know there was a stigma to reading and I really don't care. ;-)

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  10. Ick, I don't like that article either, but love your post. I LOVE my alone reading time, thank you very much! If people want to attach a stigma that is just fine with me, I won't be paying attention anyway.

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  11. I love talking books with people so I don't mind being interrupted. But I don't read in public all that much. I'm sure if I read more in public, getting interrupted would get old.

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  12. I like your ending that "we're just trying to read." One of the very nice things about being retired is that I can read when I want to read, early or late into the night or while having lunch.

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  13. Not only do I pull out the "cone of silence" but as a mom and a teacher I have actually developed the ability to not hear people while I am reading. I think it was a self-preservation thing that just developed because I was always being interrupted. When I am reading, I am reading. And I agree with you, it is not embarrassing to be alone and read. Actually reading, and being alone, is the thing that gets me ready to talk to all of you again.

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  14. I agree with you...that article is ridiculous. Sounds like they just trying to market the Kindle or ipad.

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  15. I totally agree. I was in the doctor's office with my book a few weeks ago and another woman in there wanted to engage me in conversation about all of her ailments. I listened for a little while and then I just ignored her and went back to my book.

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  16. I love that "Yes dear I see you, really I do" comment you make to your kids, I don't feel so guilty about preferring to read either!! lol I do watch them, just not every single minute of the day. Reading time is pulling the cone of silence over me, literally! And maybe buying literature has become cool again, but I'd like to know how many of those people will read those books, which are books many of us non-cool people have known about (and often loved) for ages. Thanks for pointing out the article, Chris, and for your delightful post! yaaaay for books and reading in public! now if only non-book lovers would leave us alone (unless they are looking for something to read)....

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  17. Jill- Me either and I think the people in the article care too much about what strangers think of them.

    Anastasia- I've heard so many people say they take the bus so they have that time to read.

    Vasilly- Neither do I. :)

    Amy- I never thought anyone thought it was weird to read in public. Maybe it is where these people are.

    kenpen- If people are genuinely interested, I wouldn't mind but if they just want to try out my gadget then that's not ok.

    Bonnie- When I was a teen, I read until the sunrise. Can't do that now.

    Jennifer- I grew up with 2 noisy brothers so I developed the same thing. I really can't hear anything when I read.

    emejo- I read it to my husband and he said the same thing.

    Kathy- And who knows if what they have is contagious or not!

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  18. I agree- if I'm reading, LEAVE ME ALONE. I wrote a blog post about this earlier this summer, because it seemed like every time I sat down (especially at our apartment pool) with a book, a different person would come up and comment, "You're always reading! Why?" Um, because I like it? I'm like you- I don't mind talking about what I'm reading, in fact, I'd love a good bookish conversation (unfortunately, not many people read where I live; thankfully, we're moving soon!). But dude, I don't want to talk about anything else, just LEAVE ME ALONE!!!

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  19. I'm going to check out the article, but in the meantime it's nice to know that Marilyn Monroe and I have something in common (hopefully she got more out of Ulysses than I)

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  20. Reading is sacred time for me. DO NOT DISTURB.

    Anyway, I find I become so lost in books that most times I don't even notice people around me, even if they're talking to me.

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  21. Susan- I don't feel guilty about it either. It's Mommy Time!

    Stephanie- How does anyone answer that question? Why? I just do!

    Suzanne- That's right you're reading that! Oh you are so brave!

    Steph- I do that too. I go deaf. :)

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  22. Hear, hear! Reading is by definition a solitary activity. Is someone has taken the time to bring a book to a public location, it is because they are asking to be left alone. This is also the reason why I started eating my lunch at my desk. Whenever I sat in the lunchroom with my book, someone would invariably interrupt me and I would be forced into a conversation I didn't want to have about something I didn't want to discuss. And I missed valuable reading time. An open book is the same thing as a closed door, IMO. Leave me alone!

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  23. The article is amazingly odd. When you read, it is a solitary activity. There is nothing wrong with solitary activities. They are relaxing, enjoyable, and a good way to spend some time alone. I would be annoyed by the bonuses they mention with ebook readers - people coming over to touch the reader, people wanting to talk to you when you try to read, how annoying that is.

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  24. WTH? If I'm reading, I don't want to have a conversation with you. I don't want to listen to you yapping on your phone either because the idea of having unconnected seconds terrifies you.

    Stigma? If you're reading, you probably don't care. If they really think reading alone is a terrible thing, their opinion means less than nothing to me. Pfft.

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  25. That is insane! And have I said before how much I love that picture of Sawyer? :)

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  26. Reading at swimming lessons is the best, because then you can claim their faces were in the water every time you looked up from your book...

    (although mine never believe me anyway)

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  27. that article hurts my brain! none of it makes sense to me. first of all, why do we want people touching our books while we are trying to read? oh yeah, we don't. it also seems like people are drawn to the tech more than to the text when it comes to asking about someone else's e-reader. i'm not sure how that makes reading less isolated of an act; it seems like the medium in this case just distracts the reader from reading. i really think e-readers make reading in public a more isolating act since the cover just has a big logo on it rather than a cover design, author name, title - i.e. people in the park will have no sense of what you are reading (with the iPad, outsiders won't even know for sure that you are reading).

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  28. You are so right (and all the posts commenting). When I am reading I am reading, I dont want to talk. When I am talking I am talking, I am not reading. What is so hard for those silly unobservant people to understand. Or has reading become an accessory, are people supposed to only carry a book so they look like their reading, but in fact they are searching for a conversation - will people carry the little ebook around to signal that in fact they dont want to read, they want to talk. Thank you for bringing this to our attention, its incredulous, and perhaps a joke - if it were printed 1 April then I would say yep, great joke. How sad if it is not. While I do know that CS Lewis wrote in his book Surprised by Joy that we read to know we are not alone, I dont think he meant because we knew it would attract people to talk to us while we were trying to read the book!I read to fall off this space and into another world, I do not want to be interrupted while I am there.

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