The Pleasure of Reading, Rediscovered

Christmas Critics

One of the frustrations of academic research is that the distinction between reading for work and reading for leisure becomes blurred. This year, having finished a major research project, I decided that I would rediscover the pleasure of reading as an end in itself, and maybe even recapture that blissful childhood experience of burrowing into a corner with a book and losing myself for hours on end.

Our modern combination of excessive work and commodified leisure is one of the themes explored in How Much Is Enough? Money and the Good Life (Other Press, $24.95, 256 pp.), by Robert Skidelsky and Edward Skidelsky (see “Less, Please” by Gary Gutting, Commonweal, December 12, 2012). Robert is an economist known for his work on John Maynard Keynes, and Edward, his son, is a philosopher. Keynes features prominently in the book, not least because in an essay written in 1930 he argued that capitalism should encourage “the money-making and money-loving instincts in individuals” in the short term, since that would hasten the day when people had enough for their needs and would be able to work less and enjoy more leisure. In other words, capitalism would eventually become self-defeating. In challenging this...

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About the Author

Tina Beattie is professor of Catholic studies at Roehampton University in London.