Tuesday, September 29, 2009

No Time to Read

I was talking to a young lady today who attends one of our fair city's specialized high schools. She's not one of my students or former students, but I know her, and she's a bright, articulate, thoughtful young woman who's clearly already enjoyed a substantial degree of academic success.

This young lady is carrying a heavy academic load that includes two Advanced Placement classes and high-level classes in other subjects. She is involved in an after-school club, performs community service, and is aiming to join teen advisory boards for local organizations. She wants to go to an Ivy League university. Her parents are college professors. You get the idea.

I was asking this young lady some questions about school, and then I asked her, "So what are you reading?"

She named a book she was reading for her AP English class.

"Okay," I said. "Great book. What about outside of school?"

"Outside of school?"

"Yeah, what are you reading for fun?"

"Oh, um," she said, "nothing, really. I don't really have time to read right now."

"I can relate," I said. "It's tough to make time to read." One of my favorite authors just released her new book, and I haven't had time to crack it yet because I need to go back to her previous books and refresh my memory before I tackle the new one, and that will take me at least a few weeks. I can usually squeeze in twenty or thirty minutes before bed if I skip the last two-thirds of The Colbert Report. "So what was the last book you read for fun? Maybe over the summer?"

"I was working over the summer," she said. "I didn't really have time to read then, either."

"Oh," I said. "Well, anything you've read recently, just for fun. Anything." I was grasping at straws.

The young lady screwed up her forehead and gazed off to the side for a moment. Finally she said, "Um, I don't really remember. I'll have to, uh, get back to you on that one."

I smiled and let her off the hook. I said it was all right.

But is it?
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