Over dinner the other night I asked my wife Caroline to describe what moods, for her, correlate with a desire to read fiction. After a moment she said, “When I’m feeling stimulated, I like to read fiction, and when my life feels sterile, I don’t.” This rang true to me and I think it captures one of the essential paradoxes of fiction and art more generally: that to engage it requires a withdrawal from life, but to appreciate it requires a deep immersion in that very same thing.
Hmm. Really? I think I feel the opposite. Well, I want to be reading fiction all the time, but I tend to actually read more in the lulls, the times when I don’t feel like I should be doing something else. Although, I’ve been trying to work on that because I realized I’ll be putting off reading for fun indefinitely unless I set aside some time for it.