Wednesday, August 11, 2010

People Who Really "Don't Have Time" to Read

In my previous post about prioritizing reading, I wrote:
I quickly get annoyed with those people--students, acquaintances...ahem...relatives--who say, "Oh, I don't read. I just don't have time for things like that." All that basically means is that they don't like to read, and it's not a priority.
And several of you started your comments with: "But sometimes we really DON'T have time to read!"

And my response would be: "I know! Let me explain."

When I wrote that I get annoyed with those who say they don't have time to read, I really am talking about people who are lying between their teeth. You've met them, I've met them. They roll a little something like this:
Do I buy, check out, or otherwise read books? No. I don't have time. Do I own books? Oh no, I don't have the space for that. You mean you just bought 14 books at the library sale and you're going to actually read them someday? Wow, your life must be really boring if you have that much time to read.

Friends, that dolt is not a reader nor have they ever been. These are the "don't have time to read" people I'm talking about. The ones who curl an upper lip as they say, "Read? Uh, no. I don't have time for that."

I've met people like this--worked with them in libraries or taught with them in colleges, in fact! The last couple of lines about having a boring life have been SPOKEN ALOUD to me! I would link to the post about it, but I cursed a lot back then and it's not safe for work.

How scary is that? I have no idea why people will sometimes front like mofo's that they like to read when they don't. Ever. And haven't. Ever. Others will come right out and look at you like a zillion-headed hydra if you say you like to read.

We all go through dry spells, but these are the posers and idgits I was referencing in my previous post.

Do you have a particularly appalling non-reader story? Someone who made you feel like mud? Tell me, tell me!

27 comments:

  1. My sister is one of those. She used to be an avid reader, actually, but when her kids arrived she stopped making reading a priority and now she says she just doesn't have time to "waste" reading. She prefers watching TV. Obviously, she could substitute reading for TV time, if she wanted to. But, I think it's partly ignorance as to what is out there for her to enjoy and you can't get her to crack a book, so she'll never find out. Sad. I feel for her. Poor silly, stupid girl. She is missing so much.

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  2. Two years ago, I posted about a response I got when someone saw how much I was reading (don't worry, it's safe for work): http://aspiralupwards.blogspot.com/2008/11/tv-vs-books-part-2.html

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  3. Those people that "don't have time to read" also "don't have time to exercise". About 95% of the time both comments are just excuses.

    Is it really so difficult for folks to admit they don't enjoy reading?

    The exercise excuse causes me ponder what is more important to those people than taking care of their health.

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  4. Oh, I know exactly what you're talking about--those people that act as if you must be the most boring person on earth if you actually have time or make time to read! I agree with Janna that a lot of times it's just an excuse. People get defensive about not reading, so they try to project that on you.

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  5. I would say that the worst thing anyone has ever said to me was at work. I frequently have a book on my desk to read during breaks or if we happen to be slow. Over a couple of weeks i had gotten through several short books when a coworker basically told me she thought i wasn't really reading the books, i was bringing them in so other people would think i was smart! I was so shocked at the time i don't even know what i responded.

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  6. Exactly...these are the same people who think bookworm is a derogatory term.

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  7. You know, even on my slowest reading weeks, I still pick a book up numerous times. I think it's either something you make a priority, or it's something you don't. I love reading, I've always been a huge reader, so I make room for it. And I likewise don't get the people who don't make room for it...but I guess they have different lives? I pity them, but I'm all the happier that I can find the books I want ;)

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  8. My sister's also one of those now --- she used to be an avid reader, but she tended to read "literary" books (no Harry Potter when everyone was reading it, no light fiction, etc). She now makes sure her schedule is completely full all the time (no kids, just work) and the last time I told her about a good book, she just said "Oh, I never had any time to read any more. I'm lucky if I have more than 5 minutes." And she sneered at me. I just changed the subject, but in my head, I felt like "I'm Jo.... and I'm a book addict."

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  9. I agree with Stephanie, it's defense mechanism on their part. I'd go as far and say the "You're boring" thing is a projection on what their lives are. Sorry, I can be mean too! Oh and I get you the first time you posted, if that's a consolation :) I think I stopped thinking what others (non-readers) might think of me when a colleague once commented on the three books I brought with me to an exam I was proctoring. Like you, she thought it was a waste. Or how could I go through three books at the same time. And when I told her I love books, I love to read, it was then that I realized that some people aren't meant to be readers.

    Some people are just mean to readers but hey, we all know better than to give them the attention they want. And some readers are probably boring too, I bet :) I think I'm one of them. Hahaha! That being said, I think it's a waste of my time hearing them assess my life from the vantage point of a book I bring with me. Better for my soul to smile benignly at them and curse their lying, judging hearts to the depths of Dante's Inferno (which I haven't read yet). Of course I'm kidding :)

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  10. I know exactly what you mean, and it made me think of this article written a few months back by Nymeth of Things Mean a Lot, and how it's usually a defensive response from non-readers.

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  11. Those people irritate me to no end. I don't let it slide off my back, either- I make them explain themselves (I mean the people who do have the time, but are just being judgmental). I say, really? We all have the same 24 hours, so you do have the time- you just don't make it a priority. I make it a priority because television makes me vomit. So what DO you do when you get home from work?

    They don't usually have an answer.

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  12. My "favorite": a woman (who eventually became a friend) who, when we first met and I started talking about books, looked at me and said, "I don't read. TV is so much better." I gave her props for honesty, though.

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  13. LOL! I've met a lot of those, but nowadays I get funnier looks for saying I have a blog. People seem to have a bigger prejudice against bloggers than readers - or is it just me!

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  14. I have met people like that too. I have known people who were English majors who genuinely didn't like reading. I don't know what they were doing, but if you choose to sign up for an English class and then complain about - and don't finish - the reading, I don't know what you're doing there! They all protested at reading Dracula, which is only 400-500 pages long, and one of my personal favorites. I was baffled, and then I despaired that these were the people who chose books. What about the ones that don't choose books? Those are the ones that look down on us for reading.

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  15. Not only non-readers, but non-bloggers say these sorts of things, making me feel like a bit of a dilettante and that I have no life. I want to say 'you should see all these people who 1. have jobs outside the house, 2. have little kids, 3. have a farm/home business/book to write -- people who are really busy, and STILL read and blog and read other blogs and take the time to comment.' Whew! You struck a chord in all of us!!

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  16. Oh, I have an story about just such a situation!

    The scene: The cafe at Borders, where I worked as a part-time bookseller. I'm on my 30-minute break and chatting with a coworker over the counter. A man hovers nearby, waiting for coffee.

    "So how's that book you're reading now?" my coworker asks. "The one you started yesterday?"

    "Pretty good," I respond, "but I'm only on page 60 or so."

    The guy waiting for his coffee nearby sputters -- literally sputters, with a loud guffaw sound -- and says, "Sorry, um, did you just say you started that yesterday? And you already read 60 pages? You must not have a life."

    That. Is what this dude says to me.

    I look over at him just as he obviously checks me out, giving me a doofy smile. He's probably 45 if he's a minute. I don't know if this is his way of "flirting" with the college girl who happens to make a temporary living dealing with guys like that in the bookstore, but let's just say it didn't go down so well.

    I gave him one of my patented Meg faces -- the one where I raise my eyebrows, cock my head like you've just cussed me out and lean forward -- and said, "I'm sorry?"

    That's when he got all flustered, picked up his drink and already started backing up and towards the calendars. "I just meant, er... sorry. Sometimes it's hard to talk to a beautiful woman."

    And wow. I'm pretty sure I just walked away at that point, tossing a "we'll talk about it later" look at my coworker.

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  17. Working in a bookshop, you also get the slight variant on this, the 'easiest job in the world' speech... as in, 'Oh, look at you, what an easy job, being paid to sit and read all day at work...' Like because I'm a bookseller I must also be the laziest, dullest person in the world. Like there are no customers to serve, shelves to fill, stock to check, orders to place, valuations to complete, accounts to do, online sales to process... seven days a week, by the lone pair of us, every day.

    I understood your original post by the way - and completely agree. I feel sorry for people who don't make time for books in their lives - how much they are missing!

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  18. I always felt that a crazy hectic lifestyle drove one to read. I raised four hellions and I believe that the only way I survived them was reading after they went to bed. I also think that kids may be more inclined to read when their parents read and read to them. I don't understand how we become disconcerted at our children's academic problems in school when the reason is right in front of us...reading makes you smarter. It builds vocabulary, enriches the mind, and I think actually opens up pathways in your brain, or something like that. I think the same goes for appreciating the fine arts and not be to be hoity-toity, but to bring a bit of joy into one's life.

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  19. I understand if people aren't reading because they don't want to and they'd rather do something else with their free time. It's their time and they can do what they want. But it's when people get that tone of "Well my life is so busy and important that I just don't have time to pick up a book. You're so lucky your life is so dull and uneventful that you can get so much reading done". Or maybe that's just what I hear.

    There's an award for you over at my blog!

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  20. When I was in high school I was reading this novel during home room and the guy beside me sneered and said "I hate people who read." I was like what's that supposed to mean? I can also understand really not having time to read. I've worked in a library for 15 years and we get a few teenagers that come in all the time until they go to college or get married. Sometimes after a few years go by we start to see them regularly again.

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  21. I'm overwhelmed by all of your stories! I'll be responding to everyone individually, but I wanted to thank you all for tossing your own tales of woe into the ring. It's crazy how polarizing reading can be. Who would've thought?!

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  22. Well, not necessarily an appalling story but one time one of my cousins asked me if I just read to show off! Yes, because I care what people think about me - NOT! :) Silly boy. I quickly told him why I read and why I thought his life would be much more fun if he "traveled" a bit more through books!

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  23. I've definitely had people tell me "your life must be really boring if you have that much time to read" and other variants thereof, and I agree, it's incredibly annoying! I think Stephanie, Janna, Lightheaded and etc are on to something. People make those dismissive remarks as a form of defence against a perceived attack - a lot of the time I notice they assume that I'll judge or patronise them for not reading, so I guess they try to get there first.

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  24. When people come to visit us for the first time, they ask the silliest question: "Why do you have so many books?" One even whispered to my husband, "Does she actually read them?" In which he said, "And not just that, she borrows a lot from the library, too." Lol.

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  25. I'm finding a bit of a variant on this is people who say 'I should make time to read' if they ever strike up a conversation about what I'm reading at lunch. That kind of makes me feel like by reading they think I am making a judgement on their lives. Then I want to hide the fact that I'm reading even more. 'S weird, but not as bad as all the stories in the comments, can't belief people have openly told readers they are dul for spending their free time the way they want to!

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  26. I'll admit, I like to show off how many books I read when someone teases me about 'reading again?!' But I also add and bemoan how much of a slacker I am that I can't seem to ever read 100 books a year like alot of my friends.

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