It’s like when you slowly pull a cotton ball apart. Interrupted reading, that is. Some people never cotton onto reading—we’re all different—but some of us find it such a beguiling exercise that we neglect other aspects of life so that we can engage it. Almost an altered state of consciousness. That moment when you have to close a good book, though. There’s nothing else like it. It’s difficult to pinpoint whether images or words make up the continuity a reader experiences. For me it’s like a continuous conversation. Since my life may be too regulated (“nine-to-five” jobs are like that), every day at work begins with interrupted reading. If you’re awake early, you’ll find there’s no other uninterrupted time like it. No librarian has to shush anyone at three a.m.
My job is largely reading. It’s also a good deal of customer service. As an author myself I guess I get that. Content is what the world wants, and if you find a writer who does what your press likes, well, you try to keep her happy. Why doesn’t enforced reading feel like reading by choice, though? It’s that reading before work that feels like the pulling apart of fibers that’ve organically grown together. By nighttime, which is still light in summer, it’s not so much pulling apart cotton balls. Bedtime reading is more like stumbling through a forest. When you come to that part of the path you know you’ve been on before—perhaps multiple times—it’s time to put the book down and hopefully reboot.
There may be jobs which consist entirely of reading for pleasure. If there are I never learned about them in high school or college. I have a friend who’s a musician. Many years ago I asked him what he like to play for fun. He looked at me and said “Music, for me, is work.” I have to believe that somewhere deep inside he still found it enjoyable, but I instinctively grasped what he meant. Once you take your passion and convert it into a source of income the magic goes out of it. Once I get out of work the thing I want to do immediately is read, but what I want to read. And although studies show that the reasonable way to get your best work out of your employees is to give them more time off, employers tend to disagree with the data. The more hours you put in the more “dedicated” you are. But then, some of us are in publishing because we love to read. But even now, as work time approaches, the cotton ball begins to shred.