A Good Idea.

This spring and summer, I spent a great deal of time reading. During the last few months, I’ve had little time to read, so I stalled on even starting Book 6 of Harry Potter, and my pile of new books has continued to grow because I buy books even when I don’t have time to read them. It’s a nonsensical habit, I know. But I buy books. They are my weakness.

This weekend, I flew to Portland. Time on a plane is a great time to read, so I did.  I finished Chrissie Wellington’s memoir on the flight out and started a collection called The Best American Nonrequired Reading, edited by Dave Eggers, on the flight back. The Eggers collection is the 2011 edition and includes all kinds of writing on subjects relevant to 2011. Some of the works included are Best American WikiLeaks Revelations, Best American Lawsuits, and Best American Wifi Network Names, most of which are amusing. It also includes a number of more thoughtful essays and stories that appeared in 2011. I only got about half way through the book, but it’s engaged me.

The piece that prompted me to write is one called “Solitude and Leadership” by William Deresiewicz.  It’s a speech, the text of which can be located here. I can’t figure out its relationship to 2011, but I’m glad it was included in this collection. The author talks about the importance of solitude – of “slowing down and concentrating.” Here is an excerpt:

Multitasking, in short, is not only not thinking, it impairs your ability to think. Thinking means concentrating on one thing long enough to develop an idea about it. Not learning other people’s ideas, or memorizing a body of information, however much those may sometimes be useful. Developing your own ideas. In short, thinking for yourself. You simply cannot do that in bursts of 20 seconds at a time, constantly interrupted by Facebook messages or Twitter tweets, or fiddling with your iPod, or watching something on YouTube.

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