So they say, when they ask about what you read at many interviews, to suss out your inclinations, depth of knowledge and language proficiency. In Germany, books are unbelievably cheap and easily available, compared to the rest of the world. (Whether you can procure books in the language of your choice is a different story) The ubiquity of libraries, regional book fairs and free-for-all book shelves also promote the joy of reading to one and all.
However, few people read these days, apart from work-related publications, tabloids and websites (does that even count?). Gone are the times when one could sit by the beach or in the park, taking a whole day to cover one chapter of “The Little Prince” or “The Hardy Boys” or whatever rocks your boat. The excuse given is that only retirees have the luxury of reading at their own pace, but at that age, one’s failing eyesight and general clumsiness obviously impair such literary desires.
As such, I say, read all you can, now or never, on the long commute home, and in solitude. It’s not a race to read the most books, or in the shortest time possible. It’s not like you’re expected to quote characters or sentences even from whatever you read, what with our increasingly short-term memory, but it would be beneficial to just glean a little insight from a well-written book, be it fiction, autobiographies or hard-core political science.
I must admit, I do get judged for reading fiction, with friends and acquaintances commenting on the mindless fluff and apparently inane dialogue that spans chapters. It does depend on the writer that you choose to read, for much of good fiction stems from the keen observations of a well-lived author, be it an indirect social commentary of modern friendship or the realistic description of life in a ghetto neighbourhood.
Reading spares you the agony of reliving the atrocities of others, the misfortune of not being forewarned, for how long can it possibly take to view the world from another standpoint by reading a concisely written book, compared to investing years and tears in understanding it on your own? For we can only see further by standing on the shoulders of giants, and in this aspect, it is the good writers at our disposition that have quietly allowed us such a privilege.