Over the last few weeks, a remarkable thing has happened: I’ve managed to get back to reading books at a fairly rapid clip.
Before the last eight or so years of my life, reading was an indispensable part of my existence—closer in the nature of its compulsion to such reflexive actions as breathing and blinking than to conditioned behaviors such as brushing teeth or combing hair. Simply put: I was never not reading. It was what I did continuously when I wasn’t interrupted by the banalities of sleeping, eating, grooming, socializing, studying or working.
(Sometimes, not even those banalities got in the way. I have vivid memories of my exasperated parents trying to separate me from my books at the dining table, inside the car or under my bedcovers. The worst case happened when I was in third grade and my homeroom teacher found me hidden behind a seat, devouring a magazine about dinosaurs, while the rest of my class was devoutly praying the rosary. Make that a statement about my childhood preference for science over religion, if you will.)
All that changed, however, around the time I moved to Singapore. I’m not too clear about the reasons why—my favorite hypothesis is that the intense mental effort required by the kind of work I did then left precious little energy for an intellectual pursuit like reading—but whatever the case, I stopped reading for virtually three years. While I eventually resumed the hobby after I left the corporate world, I never quite managed to return to my previous pace.
(I don’t count the reading I did during my masteral studies as reading per se. All that wasn’t reading—it was work. Enjoyable work, yes, but work nonetheless.)
In the last few weeks though, owing to a few choices initially hesitantly made, I’ve gotten more and more space to actually read. I sped through Christine Kenneally’s The First Word: The Search for the Origins of Language (a fantastic read), Daniel Dennett’s Breaking the Spell: Religion as a Natural Phenomenon (an enlightening read) and am now halfway through Jared Diamond’s Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed (an excellent read) and just beginning Robert Wright’s The Evolution of God (a promising read).
What’s surprising is how ridiculously happy such a little thing has made me. Simple pleasures indeed.