Lately I’ve begun to worry about my reading. I’m not doing enough of it, though I seem to invest as much time as ever. For years, maybe decades, I read a minimum of a book a week, often two or three. But now, it seems like less — a lot less.
Why? At first I thought it might be my advancing years. Maybe my brain is failing. You can’t open a newspaper, magazine or turn on a TV without being bludgeoned by scary headlines. We are all going to have Alzheimer’s any day now. So am I reading more slowly, less able to focus, sinking into gaga-land?
I don’t really think so. Maybe I’m distracted. There are now about a thousand channels on the tube. And I do watch TV, quite a lot actually. But am I watching so much more than ever before that there’s no time left to read? This seems unlikely. I tend to confine my TV to the morning news and the evening frivolity.
In theory that leave me all day everyday to read, yet when I had a full-time job I seemed to get through more books. I even reviewed them regularly. So where is the time going? Unable to solve the riddle, I decided to at least make up for lost time so opened up my IPad to read another chapter or two in the book I’ve been slowly wading through.
But before starting, I googled “less time to read” to see if I could find any plausible explanations, but found nothing persuasive. I did find sales pitches for ways to read more or read faster or retain more. I also found studies suggesting that Americans are reading less and not retaining much, but that was no help. I knew that.
While I was at it, I clicked on Yahoo Finance to see what the markets were doing, which curdled my blood. So I clicked over to Politico to see what campaign trail follies had been committed in the last 24 hours. I also checked NFLMobile to see the line-up for the upcoming Sunday games and then clicked over to Nate Silver’s 538 to see who they were picking to win. In the process I was reminded to check my email where I deleted ads and answered a few actual messages.
Now I got down to some serious reading. Soon I encountered a reference to a place in Europe called Lwow or Lvov. Either way it looked like a misprint so I popped up Google Maps. Lo and behold, there it was in Ukraine, not that far across the Polish border from Lublin.
Now why is that name familiar? Isaac Bashevis Singer, maybe? I check Wikipedia. Of course, “The Magician of Lublin.” And what do you know, they made a movie of it in 1979 with Alan Arkin. I love Alan Arkin.
I never saw that. I wonder if Netflix has it or Hulu or Amazon video-streaming. Nope, no one seems to offer it except for a copy of an ancient VHS tape from Amazon for $20. That seems a bit steep for an obsolete technology.
Now where was I? Oh yeah, Lvov. But now the author is talking about the Ukrainian resistance to the Nazis in World War II, a group that after the war unfortunately turned its talents to ethnic cleansing reminiscent of the same Nazis they set out to oppose. The most notorious guerrilla fighters were UPA — the Ukrainian Insurgent Army. They sound interesting but he doesn’t go into that much detail about them. Let’s see what the net has to offer.
Wow! They had a cool black and red battle flag, and here’s the lyrics to their anthem and the oath the new recruits had to swear. And it looks like this guerrilla army was formed October 14, 1942, on the day of The Intercession of the Theotokos.
I wonder what that is? But I’ve no time to check. I’ve got to run an errand. And look, over an hour has slipped away while I’ve been reading, yet I’ve managed to get through a mere three pages. How can this be? I’m more worried than ever. I just can’t seem to get through a book the way I used to. I wish I could figure out why.