June 19, 2005


There's an entry on One Good Thing about reading. Flea says, "If you don't read, how do you think?" and I basically agree with this. I'm an intellectual snob. But here's what struck me. In one of the comments, someone mentions a situation where "reading" is listed on a survey of potential hobbies, but "socializing" is not; apparently this annoyed some non-reading socialite. I'm sitting here thinking, reading is a hobby? Socializing is a hobby? What the hell kind of life does someone who doesn't read or talk to other people have?

Hobbies are optional. They're entertainment and puttering - sometimes very useful entertainment and puttering, like when my grandmother knit me a lovely hat or my dad built me a bed. They usually involve some degree of skill, like flyfishing, crocheting, building model airplanes, making fancy desserts. But they're not a basic function of life, the way I see reading or talking to people. I feel kind of the same way about music: being really into music, as a listener or a musician, might be a hobby, but music is just a basic thing about life that everyone needs. I know there are people - even people who don't have difficulty actually doing those things - who don't care about music or reading or talking to people and think those things are optional, like hobbies. But I find myself totally baffled by them.


hipster monk said...

I think calling reading or socializing a hobby makes more sense if you think of a hobby as something you choose to do with your spare time. It's a vague but common use of the word.

I was recently writing in my journal about my dissatisfaction with the balance of activities in my life: too much time spent on things I think of as being hobbies (music, and yes, hanging out), not enough time spent on things I think of as being crucial to my idea of my present and future self: writing, learning, other venues for mastery.

hipster monk said...


It might be worth thinking about the different kinds of reading that you (I, whoever) do (does), and to what purpose. Or is it all one kind of reading for you? Most reading I do is some combination of info-gathering and entertainment, but there's a lot of differentiation within that.

Socializing, for me, functions on a similar scale, different proportions of entertainment and sustenance. Generally, for both reading and socializing, I find myself less patient with entertainment than I used to be, larger appetite for sustenance.

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