A Manifesto for Readers

Will Schwalbe, Books for Living, (p.14):

We over schedule our days and complain constantly about being too busy; we shop endlessly for stuff we don’t need and then feel oppressed by the clutter that surrounds us; we rarely sleep well or enough; we compare our bodies to the artificial ones we see on television; we watch cooking shows and then eat fast food; we worry ourselves sick and join gyms we don’t visit; we keep up with hundreds of acquaintances but rarely see our best friends; we bombard ourselves with video clips and emails and instant messages; we even interrupt our interruptions.

When it comes time for us to decide what we should buy and how we should spend our free time, we expect ever more choice. And in order to try to make our way through all of the options we’ve created for ourselves, we’ve turned the whole world into an endless catalog of “picks and pans,” in which anything that isn’t deemed to be mind-blowing is regarded as useless. We no longer damn things with faint praise—we damn them with any praise that is less than ecstatic. Loving or loathing are the defaults—five stars or one.

And at the heart of it, for so many, is fear—fear that we are missing out on something. Wherever we are, there’s someone somewhere doing or seeing or eating or listening to something better.