I recently read an interesting post entitled “Do you like books? Do you like bookstores?” The author, Takayuki Nakayama (who apparently works for IBM in digital sales), observes that it seems like most people he sees on trains are playing with their smartphones, rather than reading books. He makes a habit of reading if his train ride will last more than 10 minutes, and is able to read about a book a week this way (and he only reads on the train). Nakayama doesn’t think of himself as a reader, but he always has about 10 books he wants to read. One reason he has this “backlog,” as he calls it, is because there is a big bookstore in the train station nearest his house, open past midnight, which makes it so tempting that he stops by every day, pulled in by the piles of books. He notes that even though the publishing industry is said to be in a slump, and e-commerce is having an impact, brick-and-mortar bookstores still have a real presence.
This reminded me of a short passage in 読書の腕前 (The Craft of Reading) by 岡崎武志 (Takeshi Okazaki)*. This book lives on my nightstand. I’ve written about him before, and will again, because his is one of those books that puts into words what you can’t quite capture yourself. Also, Okazaki quit his job as a high school teacher to become an editor, and then a freelance writer, making reading and writing (and visiting used book stores) his livelihood, so I feel he has the credibility to say what might sound obnoxious coming from me.
Translated from page 34:
Most often, I read on the red sofa in my study, or in bed. But I also read sitting in the chair in front of my computer, or on the sofa in my living room. I read at the table while I eat, I read on the toilet and in the bath.
If I’m out, I read on the platform while I wait for the train. I sit and read in the train if there are any seats available, otherwise I hold on to a strap and read. I read while waiting for someone at a cafe. Once they arrive, I will pull out my book if he or she leaves the table, even if it’s just for two or three minutes. After all, you can read a short essay in that amount of time.
Many people say that they don’t have time to read, but that’s a lie. If you want to read, you can find intervals throughout the day and read quite a lot. For example, even just a space of two to three minutes can add up to 20 or 30 minutes for the day, and assuming one page takes one minute to read, you could read almost 30 pages every day. Carve out some space for reading on the weekend, and you could finish a book a week. So the real question is really whether you want to read or not.
*Takeshi Okazaki writes nearly every day on his blog, all about what he’s reading, writing, eating and watching (most recently, a Ridley Scott movie–he wasn’t impressed).