The Sunday Salon: Freedom of Choice

I started reading A Dance to the Music of Time (second movement) about 10 days ago.  Since it’s a big and heavy-ish book, I brought my Kindle to work for lunchtime reading instead.  I read a couple of chapters of Richard Dawkins’ The God Delusion, and was just starting to get into it, when one day last week I returned to my office to find a book on my desk with a note from my boss’ assistant.  The note read, “Stopped by.  Mr. Boss wants you to read this book and give it to Joe Colleague when you are done.”

Really?!  (I cast my eyes across 2.5 years of reading on my TBR pile…)  Now?

Sigh.  Yes.

Thanks to Mr. Boss, I’ve learned it’s possible for me to have two books on the go at the same time, but three concurrent reads sends me over the edge.  I like getting totally immersed in my reading, rather than flitting from book to book, reading just a few pages at a time.  And it’s important to me to finish books. Too many going at once and I begin to feel I’m not really reading any of them.  So (grumble, grumble) I’ve set aside the Dawkins for a bit to satisfy Mr. Boss.  Duty calls …

But you know, I really hate forced reading.  What is it about “you have to read this, now!” that sends me running for the hills?  The nature of the book hardly matters; the problem comes from taking away freedom of choice.  This is one of the reasons I dropped my reading challenges this year — I wanted to choose what I read, when I want to read it.  This “forced reading” for work would have been even more disruptive if I had reading challenge commitments, so I guess I can be thankful for that!

I’m sure I’ll survive this little interruption in my leisure reading.  And what the heck, it will still “count” as a finished book, and you all will benefit from a review which will allow you to make your own choice!

Do you have any “required reading” stories or tips to share?

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Read more from The Sunday Salon here.

19 thoughts on “The Sunday Salon: Freedom of Choice

  1. I don’t like having multiple books on the go at the same time either, and I deeply dislike having books foisted upon me to read now when I didn’t ask for them. I don’t like it even when I’m somewhat interested in the book.

  2. Required reading in school never bothered me so much as the deadlines. I think though that because I often wanted to read the required books, I didn’t feel as if my freedom of choice had been taken away. Same with reading challenges. I just prefer going at my own pace. And in that regard the lack of choice can be off-putting. I might just rebel.

    • Wendy, required reading in school never bothered me either. I guess I could learn to look at professional reading in a similar way. If only there were more hours in the day!

  3. Yes, another reason I don’t like doing too many review books…they feel too much like “required reading.”

    Except, of course, when they’re from an author I love or sound like a really good book.

    Which is why I’m vowing to never, NEVER accept books that don’t sound like my cup of tea. Even though it’s good to go outside that comfort zone now and then.

    What do you think of this new commenting box? Sometimes when I write my comment, it is repeated in the blank box after the one has posted. Ever have that problem?


  4. I used to have books assigned to me at work. In fact, one time, I was asked to read a book and WRITE A REVIEW of it for a big wig “because you write book reviews all the time.” As if writing book reviews as a hobby meant that I would enjoy doing it for work.

    So, I told my boss that I would be happy to read the book during work time and write the review during work time. Otherwise, my personal time is meant for books that I actually want to read.

    It’s really a wonder that I didn’t get fired!

  5. Not only have I dropped all my reading challenges this year, I’ve dropped all my reading! Ack! “Required” reading was too disruptive to me; I’ve discovered I’m more a go-with-the-flow type of reader – even though it took me a few years to discover it!

  6. I’m right there with you. It is one reason I hate reading journal articles related to work – I think of reading as pure leisure and enjoyment. I am not missing all the challenges this year…in fact of the couple I kept, I haven’t even been thinking of them! I also am considering posting something to my blog saying I will not be accepting review books until 2012…I am swimming in them, and it is starting to stress me out.

    Good luck with your mandated reading – I hope it is, at least, a decent book!

    • Wendy, I read a lot of work-related news through my feed reader but seldom an entire book. While there are good and useful “business” books out there, the genre can also be like self-help (quantity over quality). Jury still out on this book …

      Like you, I consider reading a leisure activity, and I don’t miss the challenge commitments either! It was fun while it lasted but just got to be too much. I’m enjoying my reading more this year and flexibility has a lot to do with that.

  7. I’ve got a lot of work reading right now too, but I try to keep it at work:-)

    I’m often hesitant to give books to friends, however, because I hate to intrude on people’s TBR. It’s a delicate balance. Some of the best (and some of the worst) books I’ve read have been thrust on me. I hope this one is at least interesting (and different enough from your current leisure read to not confuse!)

    • nomadreader, I’ve been trying to keep the work reading at work as well. This book is an easy read so I can get through a large chunk of it in a relatively short time.

      And I know what you mean about the delicate balance, intruding on others’ TBR. It’s a tough call, especially when you feel passionate about a book and really want someone else to enjoy it!

  8. I don’t like forced reading either. I don’t even like reading things I’ve agreed to sometimes! LOL. I deal with it by reading them slowly, interspersed with other things. On the other hand, some of my favorite books growing up were required reading!

    • Marie, I never minded required reading in school — I guess because it was expected. And you’re right, I have fond memories of so many of those books. Somehow it feels different at work. And I’m not too keen on someone foisting leisure reading on me either — it’s one thing to recommend, but quite another to put a copy in your hands and then keep asking if you’ve read it yet.

  9. Pingback: The Sunday Salon: Free vs. Purchased…. | Books in the Burbs

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