I was listening to a song, My Own Town by Glen Phillips, the other day about a man that was left on Earth alone. I have heard this song countless times since it was released but a line stuck out to me this time that hadn’t really made an impression before. Here is the line:
I read a few books, but it just made me sad
There’s nobody to talk to about what I read
For whatever reason I started thinking about this and realized that, for me at least, part of the joy of reading is talking about what I read with other people. Yes, reading itself is a powerful, enlightening, and emotional experience but it can also be an extremely social experience as well. I remember spend hours at scout camp outs discussing all of the “what-ifs” surrounding Stephen King’s The Dark Tower series. That experience drove my interest in the story. Similar experiences drive my renewed love of reading today. One of the the things I most look forward to every month is a book club get together every month with a few friends. I enjoy reading but getting together and discussing and arguing about books with friends is just as much fun as reading the story. In fact, sometimes the discussion is even more enjoyable than the act of reading itself. More often than not my understanding of the story is enhanced by the discussion and I really enjoy defending the parts I like as well as destroying the things I don’t.
Imagine then what it would be like to have the time to read whenever you want and whatever you want but no one with which to discuss what you read…ever. It would be maddening. There would be no one to agree with you that this book is the best thing ever written or to argue with you when you say a book is complete rubbish. I suspect that reading would eventually become boring. I wonder if you would just stop reading fiction at some point.
Time Enough at Last indeed.