Yesterday, the QI Elves (who work for the BBC’s QI trivia show) tweeted a fact that sent me on a wonderful little daydream:
What would it be like if I was paid to do nothing but read and no one would ever be around to interrupt? I know book reviewers for major publications have a similar gig, but they’re expected to comment intelligently on what they’ve read. Hermits don’t have to do anything except hang around in a cave or shed or something and can please themselves. If food or money was thrown in along with shelter, I would do very little except read.
The wonderful part of the daydream ended when I realized that part of what I love about the bookish life so much is talking to other bookish people about what they’ve been reading and to recommend books. I’m sure it wouldn’t be long before I came bursting out of the hermitage in order to run someone down and talk them into reading a particularly good book—which defeats the whole purpose of being a professional recluse. Not only that, but I’m not sure how I would a) find out about books I’d like to read and b) get those books.
My daydreams never last very long because some practical question always pops into my head and ruins the whole thing.
On reflection, I have the best job I think I could ever have. As an academic librarian who buys all the fiction for my library, I get to scour the trade magazines and comb the bookish internet for new books. I spend a lot of time answering tricky questions and running down sources for people (which is also a lot of fun), but I also get opportunities to just talk books with people. On a really good day, I can send people home with a stack of books. Then, at the end of every work day, I get to go home and spend a few hours reading my latest pick. I might not be a hermit, but I have a lot of the perks—like not having to live in a cave.