Put Down That Book and Listen to Me When I Talk to You!

It's not that I'm unsympathetic to the engrossed reader. I swear I'm not. I mean, I can walk down the street while reading with the best of them, even if I'm simultaneously yelling at my children "No reading while walking, I mean it!"

And I know the days are long with schoolwork and responsibilities, and there isn't quite enough time to really get back to that story that was boiling along last time you read it. Trust me: I'm three quarters of the way through A Feast for Crows, I understand all about perilous cliffhangers.

With both kids, I struggle with trying to talk to them while they are reading. Of course, common courtesy  requires that a person put down the book and look you in the eye. But we're family, and they know as well as I do that half the time I'm talking with them it's about picking up socks or being sure everything is in the backpack. And I, it must be admitted, don't always set everything down, look them in the eye and focus when they ask for my attention.

Still, it came as someting of a blow when I was haranguing Diana about some crucial household task, and she was clearly listening with only half an ear, and I finally had to say, "Put down that book and listen to me when I talk to you!" And then I looked at the book.


It's not that it's a surprise that Grouch is more compelling than I am, it's just…I'm not sure how I feel. I can't even compete with autobiography?

But I'm probably being too fiction-biased.

4 thoughts on “Put Down That Book and Listen to Me When I Talk to You!

  1. I’m not sure I would even listen to MYSELF talk while reading Groucho’s autobiography. The book has to be amazing. I mean, the forward is by James Thurber, for pete’s sake! Now I’m going to have to go and read it. Will you thank Diana for me, please?


  2. I teach History of Comedy at the college level (yes, that’s my job) and I have this book, so this makes me excessively happy. And I have to say that celebrity memoirs of this kind were exactly what I liked to read when I was Diana’s age. They were an ideal transitional book from children’s books to adult books. Try P.G. Wodehouse for her too.


  3. Maybe you need a Groucho-style set of joke glasses with the false nose, eyebrows, and mustache attached?
    I’ve just started Inkheart and I wonder if you would/did like it–since, so far, it seems to revolve around reverence for, and power of, books!


  4. I was recently reading an article about iphones & texting and how we’re in the early stages of creating etiquette for these devices. The author went on to say that when novels first became popular, it was considered incredibly rude to be reading in the same room as another person. Why would that reader disconnect him/herself from the group in such a rude way?
    Reading that gave me hope for what sort of future we’ll have surrounded by ever present gadgets.


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