Tom Perrotta on His Reading Habits

Tom Perrotta talks about never getting around to reading what he should.
  • Transcript


Perrotta:    You know, it’s actually a very funny thing, but my wife is often very frustrated with me because she’ll read a book that she really likes and she’ll say, “You’ve got to read this,” and I’ll just have to tell her, you know, “I can’t now.”  It’s almost like a mystical thing for me.  It’s like I know what I want to read right now, like…  For some reason today I just had this sudden…  I just saw some reference to Joseph Heller’s “Something Happened,” which I haven’t read, and I remember that a friend of mine had read it in college and said, “Oh, this book is really interesting because it’s called ‘Something Happened’ but really, nothing happens,” and I just was in a bookstore, like, trying to find it and I couldn’t find it, but I will.  That’s the thing I have to read next now and, you know, it didn’t matter, you could tell me that you just read the best book in the world but I won’t be able read it now because I have to read “Something Happened.”  But if two days go by and something displaces “Something Happened” I’ll probably go another 10 years before I read it, but I have a huge backlog of things that I need to read and I’m still sort of, you know, filling in big holes in my reading life.  I was just in somebody’s house and they had a copy of “The Rise and Fall of the Roman Empire,” right?  And I know that I should read that book.  And I’m still that kid, you know, whose teacher says, you know, read Moby Dick.  Okay, I’ll read Moby Dick.  So, I don’t read nearly as much contemporary stuff as I should, and I will say that the one thing that’s really happened to me over the past few years, mainly, [with as a result] of having kids and having, wanting to spend time with them but also just getting older, I read it late at night. You know, I read between, like, 10 and midnight, except that sometimes, you know, 10:15, I’m falling asleep, you know?  So it takes me a long time to get through books and I’m often sort of embarrassed to be telling people, well, I haven’t read, you know, this or that really big book and it’s not because I don’t want to read it, I just haven’t been able to get to it.