Looking for an opinion from the hive mind: Do you finish reading a book if you know it might be bad for you?
I picked up Twelve by Twelve because I was interested in sustainable living. About halfway through it I went a little crazy and was giving serious thought to abandoning everything and going to live in a cabin in the woods. When discussing the prospect of living in the woods, even thinking it’s a viable option is a level of consideration that constitutes serious thought.
William Powers is an eco-activist who moved back to New York after mounting waves of crusades in advocacy of the Global Southern Rainforests. He was discontent with the conditions of modern urban living. He’s a young, healthy, white man living in the biggest city in the world. In short, he had everything, but felt that “everything” was propped up on a system of waste and consumerism that is dubious at best and eco-cidal at worst. So he heard about a friend of his family that lived on $11,000 a year in a 12 x 12’ shack in an undisclosed location in the North Carolina woods (12 x12’ being the dimensions the NC state government deems just small enough to not pay property taxes). This book is about his search for meaning in his life beyond what’s considered the American dream.
Going to live in a cabin in the woods is what crazy people do. But are they crazy or is the rest of the world crazy? For me, going to live in a sustainable 12 x 12 would mean saying goodbye to my girlfriend, a lot of friends I keep in contact with strictly online, my publication and a lot of other things in my life that I love deeply. I’ve since stopped reading the book and I feel like I’m back to stasis. But part of me feels like I’m maintaining willful ignorance and that I should finish the book regardless of the ramifications it may have on my brain and life.
I got thinking about this post as I went to a reading last week where one of the writers on a panel said that non-fiction terrifies him. So I ask you, internet: Do you stop reading a book if it’s detrimental to your status quo? Is constantly questioning your own status quo a good thing? What if you’re happy? Do you question the cost of your happiness?