"To read fiction is to do something voluntary and free, to exercise choice over and over." - Jane Smiley, "Fiction is an Exercise in Empathy"
I can talk a lot about this idea in the context of a prison library. So much of the daily business of living is predetermined for men and women who are incarcerated, but no one tells them what fiction to read. It is a freedom I see many take great advantage of, and a freedom I wish others would not take for granted.
What do Smiley's words mean for people like me, who seems to have more freedom than we know what to do with?
"The merchandise of the information economy is not information; it is attention. These commodities have an inverse relationship. When information is cheap, attention becomes expensive." - James Gleick, "How Google Dominates Us"
Living with purpose is always a challenge. It is easier to binge on Netflix and onion dip. Other things drag my attention from reading and from even the fiction I want to read. But I learned a long time ago that books will always be there later. Other opportunities will pass.
Still, I want to continue to engage with fiction. I currently live in a small town, where my options are limited. To read blogs, keep up with new books, and blog regularly seems like it should be easy here, but in some ways it is more difficult. I'm not surrounded by librarians and college students anymore. There is no intellectual community to speak of - or perhaps I have just not found it!
I don't always take advantage of the freedom of fiction. My goal this year is to read 100 books, not just fiction. I want to reread books that I loved years ago. I want to read new books and learn new things. I want to keep up with my favorite blogs, and write daily posts of my own.
What will you do with your freedom?