The American friend of mine, a regular reader of The Atlantic, sent me a link to an interesting article on the so-called Reading Challenge on Goodreads.
(In fact, I must say that regardless of participation in this very challenge, the Goodreads site, in addition to the possibility of writing book reviews and other interesting services, automatically calculates the number of books read per year for each law-abiding user).
I remembered at once that Donna Tartt, in her book “Little Friend” about the 70s in the American province, describes how an ambitious teenager heroine, for lack of a better field of application, joined a school competition to read as many books as possible over the summer.
Now imagine that adult “uncles” and “aunts” report to themselves at the end of each year – well, or to a dedicated reader site: I’ve read this many books this year and I pledge to read this much next year.
Does this remind you of anything? As for me, it reminds me very much of the so-called “socialist self-obligations”, the system of which was widely used in Russia during the Soviet era.
It seems to me that it is precisely our long-suffering Russian people that over the decades have developed something like rejection in relation to an obligation imposed by someone.
Although I can admit that sometimes I see such public plans in the feeds in the field of sports, and in the area of restrictions on the consumption of harmful products, and so on – right up to promises to shave the head if some incredible event occurs, such as a successof the Russian national football team at the championship of high level.
In general, in this desire to set some strict goals for oneself, such as reading a certain number of books, I see something Protestant – well, it always seems to me that regardless of the specific religious affiliation of certain social groups, the logic and mentality of Protestantism significantly influenced the rhetoric of American society in the whole.
Undoubtedly, one can only rejoice at such a positive focus on cultural leisure in its highest manifestation and at the popularization of reading traditions, which science fiction writers have been predicting an imminent death for many decades ago. And, probably, that is true since once, while buying stationery in a bookstore in a shopping center, while in line at the cashier, I heard a young man who accidentally wandered in there, feverishly thinking where he had got to, and looking dumbfounded at the visitors, he noticed to his friend that, as it turned out, paper books are still bought by someone.
And now, in conclusion, a few words about your humble servant: I never set a goal for myself to read many books ibecause, firstly, I consider reading as a spontaneous pleasure, the need for which I suddenly feel somewhere inside myself – this is really a pastime that stimulates my brain activity, it is immersion in some pleasant virtual world inhabited by other people’s fantasies, ideas and … vision about how exactly books should be written and what exactly can be called a book.