The New York Times on Sunday, May 5, 2018 had an interesting article by writer Ben Dolnick entitled, “Why You Should Binge Read” how when he lost power and he was unable to watch Netflix or “engage in my customary internet fugue” he started reading and the joy and satisfaction he got from binge reading.
Well, he got a lot of comments. The ones from PCVs and RPCVs struck home with me, as they will with you. Here is what a few PCVs and RPCVs had to say as they remembered that time in their lives.
There is nothing quite like the pleasure of living inside a well written novel for a few days. I am currently a Peace Corps volunteer in Ethiopia with limited access to internet and no television. I read a lot of fiction, usually several books a week and it keeps me very happy. I never regret the time I spend reading, it is one of the greatest joys of my life.
Jean I accumulated my own library while a Peace Corps volunteer in Liberia from 1976 through 1978. I read all the classics I’d missed as an English undergraduate as well as current literary and popular fiction, history, philosophy, science, science fiction, and the various social sciences. I’ve continued to read voraciously during the forty years since, but never with such freedom from distraction and relaxed intensity. Enjoy!
I was a Peace Corps trainee in Mauritania and remember devouring Jon Krakauer’s Into the Wild whilst riding in a Land Cruiser across the Sahel. Enjoy your reading and you’re right it’s a rich experience; probably letter writing too. I used to send some epic letters!
@Jean I remember vividly so many of the books I read as a Peace Corps volunteer in West Africa. Without tv, internet, or a phone to distract me, I spent hours each night under my mosquito net just reading. Now that I’ve returned I try to recreate that focus I had, but it can be difficult. Enjoy your service — there’s nothing like it!
Jean — We read well over 100 books during our 2.25 years of service, but 1/2 non-fiction. I still remember Lies My Teacher Told Me.
Jean — My wife and I did the same while serving as a Peace Corps Volunteer in the Central African Republic in the ‘80’s.
@Jean When I read this comment, there were 6 replies to it. I knew – knew! – all of them would be former Peace Corps Volunteers, and I was right, haha. 🙂 Before my service, it took me such an effort to read through parts of Jack Kerouac’s “On The Road.” During my down time in the village, I breezed through it, fully astonished by his glorious prose. I didn’t quite get it while I was trying to ingest it piecemeal. But how the silence, stillness, and steadfastness allowed me to see. Peace Corps Georgia 2013-15
Jean, I was a PCV 63-64 in the mountains of Colombia. No electronics. In those days Peace Corps issued us a large box of selected paperback books. Wonderful! As there weren’t enough to last our full tours, there were two of us sharing the book box, we read slowly, truly for meaning, not wanting to miss the smallest nuance, not wanting the book to end, the box to empty. For a similar reason, we didn’t want to spoil an unread book for the other person, we didn’t discuss the book we were reading with partner until she had read it too. The wonderful exception was The Alexandria Quartet. No spoilers, but remarks “Oh, I wonder if Eva really is so selfish?” A history major, as perhaps half the Community Development/Public Health Volunteers were in those days, I loved to read. But the Peace Corps book box experience taught me to open a book about which I knew nothing about the book or author, with not only an open mind but also anticipation. Ahhh.