Reading Deprivation

I’m trying to give up reading for a week. Last month I tried to give it up for two weeks, and failed, so I aimed lower. It’s an experiment in soft addictions. Three days in, after countless slip-ups, I’m at the bargaining stage. Does Slate count? Slate doesn’t count because it’s on the internet and I’m at work, right? Reading at work doesn’t count. Look, I have a sandwich in my hand. What about Apartment Therapy?

Slate counts. I stuck a Post-It on my computer that says READ in a big circle with a line through it.
“What’s that?” said Peter, who likes to catalogue my eccentricities. I told him my theories on soft addictions. There’s another Post-It just below it that says BITE with a line through it. It’s about chewing my fingernails, still a major food group though I’m 32 years old.
“And you’re not going to bite me any more, baby?”
“Bite me,” I explained.

I notice the text deprivation most on the subway, where some day I’ll get shot for staring at people. I get interested in certain faces, and I can’t seem to listen in properly without staring, too. A book is protection against this reckless habit.

Without one, I set my iPod to my Bill Clinton Makeout Soundtrack for the Q Train ride home. The other headphone clones don’t seem compelled into the little shuffly dances I do when I have private music. Not that it mattered. Last night no one looked at each other. They nosed into their books, or stared carefully into space. They all looked drained, and it’s only November.

The King is right. “We can’t go awwn together,” I wanted to implore them, ” With suspicious minds.”

11 thoughts on “Reading Deprivation”

  1. I can’t imagine giving up reading, not even for a week. It belongs for me to the same category of addiction as, say, breathing or wearing clothes. I’m not sure whether to wish you luck in this perverse endeavour đŸ™‚


  2. Banned in Brooklyn???

    Dervala without novel, text or reference is like…

    Vivaldi without Spring, Summer or Fall

    Ireland without Stout, Shamrocks or Saints

    Dubyah without Smirk, Soldiers or Stupidity

    Shakespeare without Hamlet, Lear or MacBeth

    The sky without Sun, Moon or Stars!


  3. Go on Dervala,

    forgo any text for a week
    and after the week is out, indulge yourself, it’ll be the best text you’ll ever have.


  4. Dervala – Why?

    It’s like denying yourself food and drink …utterly pointless.

    I did a mini experiment on the way to work today trying to replicate your experience. I banned my book and as a result spent the entire bus & tube journey grasping at words near me – sports page in the paper being read by the man on the bus, ads for flu treatments on the tube, the back of my ticket……. I am sure it is bad for the soul.

    Repent now!


  5. D-,
    How can you do that in NYC without becoming blind?
    I even watch TV with the captions on just to read stuff.
    Oh well, You’re not gonna read this any way.


  6. There are eight million stories in the naked city, and most of them aren’t typeset.

    Here’s to a National Non-Reading Week, when all at once we’re forced to look up and around at each other and an unintermediated flesh-and-blood world.

    Keep up the project.

    – T


  7. The staring can be good, you know. I don’t think you’ll get shot, but if you want to play it safe and only stare at the ones who won’t notice you, just pick the ones who are READING.


  8. Any Update? Will you make it through Turkey Day? Come on…’fess up, bet you snuck in a paragraph or two somewhere, somehow. Not even a newspaper, online perhaps?


  9. When I was a kid and making nasty faces for recreation, my grandmonther would always warn me that my face would stay that way. Now what would happen if you stop reading and your mind stays that way? Consider the people that don’t read. Look at this man, this so called president. He doesn’t read, probably can’t read. What a marvel his mind is. He can use ‘strategery’ in a sentence. He’s the edumacation president. But is this what you want?


Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: