There was a point, early in our marriage, when I was struggling to solidify my ability to support our family on my income alone, when I found myself so busy with work and the additional freelance work I was trying to do in order to make ends meet that as things started to ease I looked back over the last few years and realized that I'd gone several years without reading much of anything that wasn't for work (a few quickie new releases such as the latest Harry Potter book excepted).
For a moment I imagined myself staring into an abyss, wondering if I could become one of those creatures so often tut-tutted over in NPR or National Institute for the Humanities surveys, who has read 0.9 books over the course of the last year.
But as leisure time returned, I found myself slipping comfortably back into a more intellectually varied life -- though as I look back, that marked the point when I went from reading 80% fiction and 20% non-fiction to the exact inverse of that ration, and also the point when I began to get interested in more analytical fields such as economics.
I'd been having similar fears over the last few weeks, as work, family and parish commitments have all increased at once, leaving little time for reading or writing. But apparently the good folks in Amazon's advertising department still have hope that I'll continue to devote significant time to more intellectual activities. Waiting in my inbox this morning when I arrived at work was a kind missive from them stating, "Amazon.com recommends Syntax of the Moods and Tenses of the Greek Verb (Classic Reprint)".
It's sweet of them. Lately, people have mostly been earnestly assuring me that they picture exactly the sort of fellow to "build a retail channel bid desk team", or someone well situated to "move on from individual contributor status to people management", or prognosticating "you're the sort of talent who scales very quickly to director level". All of these are kindly meant, and flattering to one's ambition, even when expressed in the abominable dialect of "management-ese" which is the pidgin English of large companies.
But it's somehow comforting that, as I stare down the prospect of not having much time for reading over the next few months or years, the folks at Amazon still imagine me as the sort of fellow who'd sit down before the fire, or huddle up in a tweed jacket in his freezing study, to relish Syntax of the Moods and Tenses of the Greek Verb.