by Florrie Binford Kichler
Time Enough at Last . . .
“You’re traveling through
another dimension—a dimension not only of sight and sound but of mind, a
journey into a wondrous land whose boundaries are that of imagination. That’s a
signpost up ahead: your next stop, the Twilight Zone!”—Rod Serling
The sci-fi television classic
entitled The Twilight
Zone was known for its portrayal of, and commentary on, solitary
and often bewildered characters who found themselves in strange surroundings
and situations filled with ironic twists and turns.
One of the more famous episodes,
entitled “Time Enough at Last,” concerned a mousy bank teller, Henry Bemis, who
loved to read but was surrounded by those, including his wife and boss, who
tried to prevent him from doing so. At home, he hid books under the furniture
cushions, but his wife found and destroyed them. At work, he would sneak down
to the bank vault during his lunch hour to read in solitude, but his boss
threatened to fire him. How he wished he had time to read!
I’ve heard more than one person in
our business say, “I could never work this hard if I didn’t love what I do.”
I’ve said it myself.
Unfortunately, that which we love
often tends to consume us—we become one-dimensional and myopic, and don’t
take the time to look beyond our work to another “wondrous land whose
boundaries are that of imagination”—the world of books. Like the tailor
whose own clothes are in rags, we spend all our time producing books for others
and not enough time bringing the joy of reading into our everyday lives.
Pages Bringing Pleasure
Do you bemoan not having the time
Do you buy more books when you
haven’t read the ones on your shelves, promising yourself, “I’ll get around to
these one day”?
Did you make a new year’s
resolution to make
the time to read?
And that’s a tough one to keep.
Get up 30 minutes earlier in the
morning and spend that time reading a book for pleasure or for knowledge that
has nothing to do with publishing.
“Why morning?” the night people
among you object. In the quiet before the day starts, you can be calm, rested,
and uninterrupted. Before the phones start ringing and the computer keys begin
clicking is the best time to open your mind—try it once, and I’ll be
surprised if you’re not hooked.
As an example, here’s a quick
rundown on what is awaiting me right now at 6:30 every morning on my
nonpublishing-related reading table:
by Lawrence Sanders. Strictly
brain candy—I love detective novels and especially love Sanders’s Palm
Beach dilettante detective character, Archy McNally. In between solving cases,
Archy loves to eat, and the meal descriptions are worth the price of admission.
Ron Chernow. Informative and
fascinating biography of the man Chernow posits laid the groundwork more than
two centuries ago for our entire modern economic system.
to Great by
class=95StoneSerifIt>Why Some Companies Make the
Leap and Others Don’t. OK, I cheated a little, as this actually
is a business book, but not about publishing. It’s a study about why some good,
mediocre, and even bad companies achieve long-term success and others don’t.
Brief History of Time <span
style=’font-size:11.0pt’>by Stephen Hawking.<span
style=’font-size:11.0pt’> High school chemistry was a mystery to me, as were
algebra and physics. I managed to avoid all three through college and most of
my adult life. However, as part of my nonpublishing-related reading program, I
decided that I would like to include at least one book on a topic that I am
sure I will have no interest in, to improve my mind. <span
class=95StoneSerifIt>A Brief History of Time
is not an easy read, but it is worth the effort for perspective on the universe
and one’s place within it—about as macro a view as one can get. I’m
gaining a new appreciation of the physical sciences and learning that just
because I didn’t like something 35 years ago doesn’t mean the same is true
Entrée to Excellence
Publishers are readers. Unlike
Henry Bemis, our jobs require 10 to 12 hours of job-related reading every
working day. To run our companies effectively, we must scan industry-related
publications, and I know that just getting through those on a daily or weekly
basis is difficult at best.
But publishers are book-lovers as
well. Making the time to read outside the comfort zone of publishing reminds us
of the standard of excellence we aspire to create in our own publishing
programs. More important, however, opening our minds to a new subject, a new
vision, a new perspective, a new idea expressed by others reminds us of the
standard of excellence we seek to create in ourselves.
Henry Bemis couldn’t find the time
to read until a bomb destroyed everyone and everything on earth. He was the
sole survivor. Stunned, disbelieving, he stumbled upon the ruins of the public
library, whose books had miraculously survived the inferno. Suddenly he
realized that with everyone else gone, he finally had all the time he wanted to
At that moment, his glasses fell
to the pavement and shattered.
Thirty minutes of nonpublishing
reading a day. Don’t wait for time; make it.
My virtual door is always open.
Please share your comments, thoughts, and ideas by emailing me at <span