I have been obsessed with reading ever since before I could actually read. As a preschooler, my parents often observed me holding a book and “reading” the story aloud to my toys. When I learned to read, I took off like a rocket, devouring longer children’s books and quickly moving on to full-length hardcover books. Then came real adulthood, with things like jobs, parenthood, and volunteer opportunities, which rendered me unable to read as much as in childhood. But I still take time nearly every day to read for the sheer pleasure of it. In that sense, I am always reading.
Last night I chose to read one of the little 25-cent science fiction magazines I bought at the last library book sale – “Asimov’s Science Fiction” from September of 1982. In it, Isaac Asimov recalls how he used to read the small amount of science fiction that was available in those days. Then he began writing his own science fiction, with little time left for casual reading. When the science-fiction field exploded with new authors, it became impossible to keep up with all the new books being written. Mr. Asimov said:
“The result is that, since 1960 or so, I have been able to read only a small portion of the science fiction that has been published, and I have been falling steadily farther and farther behind. So it has come about that I am no longer an expert in the field of SF. This, however, is not a situation unique to myself. No one, these days, can keep up with the field, or would even think of trying to do so, unless it were his job – unless he were a full-time science-fiction critic, collector, or anthologist. Could you do it if you have a job, or other interests?”
No one can keep up with the books which have been published in the past 50 or 60 years. We are living in extraordinary times. In the history of the world, there has never been so much reading material from which to choose. It can be frustrating to realize that you will never have the time to read every book that grabs your attention. But each day has at least a little sliver of time to read something, and that is one of life’s most enjoyable gifts.