Day before yesterday I was in a bookstore (Kepler’s, in Menlo Park, one of the few remaining independent bookstores), killing time, and in the ten minutes I was there I bought a couple of books: The Speed of Dark by Elizabeth Moon, Rainbow’s End by Vernor Vinge, and The Audacity of Hope by Barack Obama.
This was primarily an exercise in denial; the truth is that I haven’t read any new fiction in years. I’ve lost interest. Even my favorite authors can’t tempt me, though I keep buying their books in the hope that I will, someday, be inspired to read them. But while their books are interesting and engaging in the short term, I find that once I put them down I don’t pick them up again.
I feel sort of melancholy about this, as if my failure to read fiction represented an intellectual loss in my life, a degeneration into the 99% of the public that doesn’t seem to read. I worry that I am getting too focused on weaving, on crafting, on doing, rather than on thinking and reflecting. I worry that I’m “working” too much.
But the truth is, I don’t miss it. I find it difficult to retain my interest in fiction over multiple sessions, and I’ve gone past the days where I’d be willing to devour an entire book in two or three hours. (I’d rather be weaving.) I read lots of stuff, usually online, and while I don’t read fiction anymore, I still read some nonfiction, and I read newspapers like the New York Times, so I’m not entirely out of the reading loop.
Still, I feel bad about not reading fiction, and am thinking that in the next few weeks I may try to make more time for reading, to see it as an engaging and worthwhile pursuit, rather than a time waster. This way, even if I decide I still don’t like it, I’ll at least have given it a fair go.
Speaking of reading, I am now about 50 pages into The Audacity of Hope by Obama and am (to my surprise) finding it a remarkably thoughtful read. I had not expected this out of a book by a politician; in the last twenty years politics has gotten so ossified and so vitriolic that I was more or less expecting a straight-up, partisan party line. It’s not. Instead, the portion I’ve read so far has been a reflection on that very same problem with partisanship today. It is rare to see a liberal or a conservative today who doesn’t think partisan, but his view is remarkably even-handed. It’s a far more worthy read than I’d been expecting. I’m looking forward to reading more of it.
On the cashmere coat, I’ve woven 1.7 yards, and am continuing to move along. However, as I have a 22 yard warp on the loom, I expect it will take a week and a half or so to weave the whole thing off. I may pause in the middle to cut out some pieces and see how much I really need – I’d like to make the lapels in a mostly-black contrast fabric, if I can, so I am thinking of switching to a 4-shaft broken twill in the last yard or so, to do the lapels. (I’d do a five-shaft satin, but as I am threaded up straight draw on 24 shafts, that won’t work. 6 shaft broken twill produces floats that are too long.)