A humble hobby

Last month I talked about Amelia and the idea of hobbies. It might not surprise you to learn that I consider reading to be one of mine. However, it may be unexpected that the hobby of reading has little to do directly with the website you are currently visiting.

I run LSQ, which requires me to read what we publish. I write stories and novels and essays, all of which means I read for research. My career requires me to read technical articles and my curiosity drives me to read various other kinds of articles.

Much of this reading I enjoy quite thoroughly. Obviously, technical articles are limited in their fun, though they can surprise me from time to time. Yet, what I am taking in isn’t really a hobby. It’s all related to the work I do for LSQ or for my day job or it’s part of keeping my mind active and informed.

That all changes when I sit down to read something I’ve picked for myself for the simple joy of the journey. When that special book whisks me off into its world and time slides by with me barely noticing it, that’s when we’ve hit upon my lifelong _hobby_ of reading.

This reading is for myself and only later may be for others. When I take this time for enrichment, my life feels larger and fuller. The benefits I gain from reading are esoteric and ephemeral, having little to do with productivity or success.

After reading a book that resonates with me, I will carry that experience with me. I may end up writing something of my own, building on that inspiration. If I find the right person, I may recommend a particular book to them and make a connection I might not have otherwise. Both of those clear benefits are still too concrete to explain why I love reading.

Reading relaxes me, it excites me, it deepens my experience of life. I learn new things, regardless of whether the book is fictional or not. I do not go into a book seeking transformation and yet that is exactly what happens, even with a book I don’t enjoy.

These are all reasons we choose these kinds of activities in the first place. Be it woodcarving or collecting Pokemon cards or watching sports doesn’t matter. Call it self-care if you like, for it is a way of taking care of yourself and recharging the batteries. Call it enrichment if you prefer, for it does enrich a give life some meaning and purpose beyond the daily grind.

For myself, I still call reading my favorite hobby. I like the humble term, I think it keeps things in perspective. It prevents any sense of pretense about what I’m doing and helps me keep it loose and fun, leaving the door open for whatever surprise is just around the corner.

I hope you have a hobby too, and that it brings you joy. If you don’t, is there a little space and time in your life for one? If not, may you find one.

Now off you go, I’ve got a page-turner waiting for me.