October 8, 2009

Reading: It's an Actual Activity by Kay of The Infinite Shelf

I am out of the country at my sister's wedding in India with a quick stop in London on the way back! While I am gone some lovely bloggers have stopped by with guest posts! Woohoo!

Today the lovely Kay of The Infinite Shelf shares with us a pet peeve of hers and wants to know if the same thing happens to you! Thanks, Kay!

Last Thursday was a free day for me, and after doing some laundry, I had my afternoon all planned out; finish book, drink coffee, start other book. It was the perfect afternoon... until the phone rang, right in the moment where I was about to learn Who killed What in Where. Argh!

I do love my friends and my family, and I love to chat with them. I do! They're my people; of course I enjoy our conversations! Of course they're my priority! But one thing they don't get, though, is that I consider reading to be an actual activity. It's not just something I do when I'm bored, like reading the back of the cereal box in the morning. Believe it or not, read is something I actually enjoy doing!

That afternoon, when I answered the phone and heard my mother asking me what I was busy with, I replied in all honesty : reading. Her answer came out automatically : “Oh, I'm glad you're not doing anything important! I have something to ask you, and I think it will take a while.” And so I helped her reprogram her video recorder. And then her cell phone. And then, there was something about her computer, too, but I wasn't sure what to do. We hung up and I went back to reading. 40 minutes later.

Don't get me wrong; I'm glad I can help my mother with her electronic needs! But it's always a little funny to me that she considers “reading” as something not important, that can be interrupted at will. Whatever else I'm doing when she calls – laundry, photography, even watching some t.v. show – she'll tell me to call back later. But reading, no. This is surprising, considering she's a reader, too.

Maybe it's because reading is something nearly everyone can do. Or maybe it's because putting down a book and picking it back up is so easy. For some reason, a lot of people seem to consider reading a non-activity. It's like the people who talk to you on the bus, while you're reading, as if you were only reading because you had no one to talk to!

I know how much I enjoy reading, and I know most of you around here do too! But I guess what I'm wondering is -- how do people around you, in your life, react to your reading? Do they give you your space and silence? Or do they babble about their life while you're trying to get to the point where the prince finally kisses the princess?

Thanks for initiating such an interesting discussion, Kay! I have to say that it depends for me. My mom, bless her heart, talks through my reading, through tv shows, it doesn't matter, though she understands reading and reads quite a bit herself. Other than that I don't get interrupted too much by anyone. Usually I won't answer my phone if I just got to the really good part of the story and then call the person back. My cats are terrible though. They think that it is perfectly acceptable to lay between me and the book I am trying to read. They have such bad reading manners...
P.S. I will be home soon! I am coming back with lots of pictures and tons of stories! See you soon!


  1. It's an interesting question, because I find myself doing that also. Not only am I an avid reader, but I'm a librarian! And yet, if I spend my afternoon off reading, I tend to feel a slight twinge of guilt that I didn't get anything "more productive" done. Mostly I ignore that twinge, but still, it's there.

  2. Most of the people in my family are not big readers, and consider watching TV far more interesting and important than books. It's really irritating, actually. When I call them in the middle of a tV show, they call me back later, but if I say I'm in the middle of a book when they call me, they don't understand when I say I need to call them back. Ugh.

  3. Rebecca, you are having some great conversations while you are away!!

    I get so annoyed with this too!! I mean seriously . . . don't I look busy as my eyes are frantically scanning the pages in front of me?!?! Thankfully, I've had practice with my two little ones at home that I can be interrupted and easily return to my book, but still . . . those who are older should know better (i.e., husband)!!! :)

  4. It's why I do most of my reading at night. No interruptions (though there is the guilt the next morning that I should have been sleeping instead).

    There's something that's lost when you're interrupted at a critical point in a book.

    Magic's Price by Mercedes Lackey. When I'm reading the end uninterrupted, I end up in tears. If I get interrupted, there goes the mood, and I can't get it back.

  5. I agree-many people, my family included think reading is a secondary activity! Case in pt. this summer on a family get-away w/ my brothers and their families they interuppted my reading often-"oh, Michelle can do it, she's just reading!!!"

  6. Sometimes I don't mind being interrupted but there are days when I wish I had Harry Potter's invisibility cloak!!

  7. When I was younger, my family used to beg me to stop reading. They were like, "PLEASE! JUST STOP READING!" And would be like, "Why?" *return to book*

    I'm pretty good at ignoring interruptions, so I don't mind that much when people interrupt me unless I'm actually enjoying the book or reading it for school. My mother hates it when she's near the end of a book and people try to talk to her. Sometimes if I notice she's almost finished with a book, I'll start talking to her just annoy her. >:D

  8. Oh, PS Rebecca~I've loved all the guest posts that you've had while you were away! Such a great series of essays. You rock! Have a safe trip back. :)

  9. Oh, this is just as annoying as when people tell me they don't read books/ or don't have time to read! OK fine if they don't, it's their business; but there's the implication that *my* wanting to read is trivial.

  10. Awesome post Kay. I must say I sometimes feel a little guilty when the hubby is trying to tell me something and I'm sitting there thinking "just want to get back to my book!"

    Reading is definitely an actual activity. Most of my friends know that when I say reading that they shouldn't interrupt :D

  11. Great post! I had to laugh - I am my mom's tech support person so I've been on those 40 minute conversations quite often. It drives me nuts because I'm not exactly patient, and usually it's something to do with her computer - it's really hard to know exactly what she's talking about because I can't actually see her screen!

    And yes, reading is definitely an activity. I'm pretty good, though, at ignoring interruptions. I've perfected this method of answering vaguely when I'm in the middle of a good book. My kids recognize it - they'll say something like, "you're not really listening to me, Mom, are you? You're just nodding your head and saying uh-huh just to get me out of your hair, aren't you?" And I've been known to say to people who call, "Can I call you back? I'm reading right now and in the middle of a really good part." :)

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  13. Argh, I posted using the wrong user name (which is why I deleted the last comment), but I thought I'd copied the comment so I could post it again and somehow I didn't!

    What I said was something like:

    My mother is like yours, Rebecca; she's also a reader but she can't seem to help talking to me while I'm reading, which sometimes drives me nuts. Once I went over to her place for the express purpose of lounging in her hammock while reading my book and I barely got two sentences read.

    My partner sometimes gets annoyed if I read in his presence (he seems to think it's rude), so I'm always happy when he's got a book on the go (which isn't that often), as I can suggest that we read side by side...

    Great post, Kay!


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