Once I became entrenched in the business of textbook publishing, I hardly ever read for fun. The 60–80 hour workweeks left little time for food and laundry, let alone reading. When at work, most of the reading I did was nonfiction–either textbook material (manuscript and proof stages) or financial and business management material. The only fiction materials were excerpts for use in reading and language arts textbooks. Since reading of any kind had become associated with work, I didn’t read for fun. When I wanted fun, I socialized. When I needed to relax, I watched TV.
Oh, I would read fiction recommended by friends now and then, but my attention span had shifted. The books took longer to read, and I couldn’t “sink into” them the way I used to. Publishing habits had me scanning for important paragraphs and skimming for efficiency. I became impatient with fiction.
Imagine the thrill for me when I changed careers from publishing nonfiction to writing fiction. Now I could read fiction as part of my work! I needed to read what other authors wrote. I began to hone my craft by their examples. It has taken me, literally, a couple of years to learn to read like a reader again, not to mention digging in even deeper to read like a writer. Now a few years into writing, I’m happy to report I’m reading carefully and enjoying it more. It has been a pleasure to welcome back the habits of my youth that gave me so much pleasure before publishing turned it all into a race of some kind.
Caveat: Lest I be misinterpreted, I loved publishing, heart and soul. I’m just happy now to be renewing acquaintances with a long-lost love. The book cover above is a reissue by W. W. Norton publisher of a classic gem, given to me by a publishing friend in 1971. On Reading by photographer Andre Kertesz, is a book on reading that has no words, just photos–of all ages/genders people reading in different cities/countries, of different reading materials (newspapers, books, etc.)… of people loving to read. A gem.