Reading is fun. But is it work?

A recent post over at intralingo got me thinking about reading. Reading is fun. I think any literary translator who doesn’t like reading is in trouble. But if it is fun, does that mean it’s not work?
Years ago a friend mentioned that he thought people nowadays were confusing work and leisure time. People wanted to do their hobbies for a living. And literary translators would seem more at risk of falling into this trap than most.
Of course, one major drawback of doing your hobby for a living is that it won’t seem fun anymore. What you once did before going to bed will become a chore. With a degree in literature in my back pocket, I know all about having five novels to read by next Thursday. And now I know all about having to read a novel over a weekend so I can get back to the author about it on Monday morning.
None of which makes reading a chore. But the lines between work and fun have been blurred. Now I have to read novels I would like to translate one day, now I have to read other novels by the authors I’m translating, now I have to read, period.
Not that I’m complaining. The upshot is that at the end of a long day, I’m more likely to turn on the TV than pick up a book for fun. But then why do I feel guilty when I’m reading rather than translating?

One thought on “Reading is fun. But is it work?

  1. I couldn't agree more, Peter! As someone who reads all day long, each and every day, for the work that I do, my brain is often so full of words and ideas and two languages that when I sit down at night, TV is about all I have a mind for. It often makes me sad that the pastime I love so much gets relegated to slow times when I actually have the head to just relax with words. Still, I guess we're lucky to be complaining like this, doing what we love to do?! 😉

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