Who Has Time to Read Anymore?

Earlier today I enjoyed a short conversation with a neighbour who was sorting and organizing some old books for recycling day tomorrow. There were three boxes on the ground containing perhaps 50 books in each, and all were in pretty decent condition. Being perhaps a little too nosy, I asked why she was tossing so many books. Her reply intrigued me:

These belonged to my husband, but he'll never read them now1. As for me, I just don't have the time.

While I don't know my neighbour's exact age, she has got to be in her early 80s. Given how long Japanese women tend to live, she could have as many as two decades ahead of her. No time to read? Given my lack of delicacy when talking to people about mortality in Japanese2, I didn't want to dig too deep into her remark, but it does raise a bunch of questions.

Does she lead an incredibly active lifestyle? Does she spend a great deal of time on social media? Is she a weak reader, meaning a book might take her a year to complete? These are questions that I would think about if a young person were to say they didn't have time to read. It's interesting to turn it around for someone more than twice my age.


  1. He passed away last month two days before Christmas
  2. Twice I've had conversations on activities people might want to take up as they reach their 70s and 80s, and twice I've made terrible errors in speech that ruined the friendly chat. I'll hold off until my language skills improve.