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I’m sick of being told what to read in lockdown

26 April 2020

5:00 PM

26 April 2020

5:00 PM

Feeling some pressure to write is one thing; being told what to read is quite another. On social media there seems to be a peculiar view that challenging tasks one would normally put off are suddenly expected in the face of a horrifying pandemic.

‘This is a great time to finally read Ulysses! If not now, when?’ I’ve got a pretty good idea of when — how about when we’re not all knackered and stressed out because of the plague outside the front door? That might seem a more convivial moment.


Absorbing hobbies I can understand, escapism I can understand, but books from the weighty end of the English canon that I didn’t get to when I was a student, I’ll read another time or I won’t get to at all, thanks. Ditto my first risotto.

This article is an extract from Robert Webb’s Spectator Notebook, available in this week’s magazine

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