What I’m Not Reading and Why

I have all this great stuff sitting around my apartment to read. I am halfway through the Rothko bio that I have been picking up and putting down for weeks. I have a whole stack of books (and one video) about Rothko that I got from the library. I have another stack of magazines, including several political mags, Bomb, Poets and Writers, a couple of professional journals, and of course (still) an almost hopeless backlog of The Believer sitting around here just waiting for their riches to be discovered. Every time I read another one of Birnbaum’s interviews I find out about five more books I need to read just to feel competent.

So why am I not reading? Because I am teaching, grading papers, planning classes, volunteering for the symphony, surfing the web, doing housework, and looking for jobs for next quarter and beyond. But this is not even a good excuse, since I am also watching hopeless amounts of lifestyle cable television and spending way too much time shopping at the mall. It seems the more “middle class” I become, the more I am becoming one of those regular old Americans we all sneer at who spend too much time thinking about how to spend their money and not enough time thinking about the things that money can’t get you.

I have been trying to make up my mind what to give up for Lent (although I no longer practice any other facet of Catholicism, I stricly practice the Lent sacrifice every year as an exercise in redirection and renewal) and so maybe it should be “not reading.” Backwards Lent, adding something instead of giving it up.

-Angie Kritenbrink
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