How I Feel Virtuous
I walk into a good bookstore, which we have a lot of around here, look around for ten or fifteen minutes, and walk out without buying anything. I step onto the sidewalk invigorated. There is a fair level of righteousness to be gained from resisting the purchase of pleasure reading, such as mysteries. Every time I'm browsing the Michael Connelly books (my airplane reading of choice), I find myself unable to recall if I have read a certain release or not. So far I've successfully avoided getting 30 pages into a book and realizing I already read it. The virtue here is that I'm not merely a vapid consumer of words. (I hope.)
The highest bookstore virtue is resisting the allure of self improvement. How tempting that 800 page history of Mao and the Cultural Revolution. How 'bout a book on String Theory! Maybe a Daniel Dennett book on the nature of consciousness! I really want to be that guy who can chat about important stuff. I want to be that guy who cares about lifelong learning. About becoming a better person. But, no. I've already got enough unread "serious" books around the house, which, if I ever read them, will improve me plenty. The virtue here is in knowing myself, in knowing there's only so much literature I will tackle, and that I will spend many mindless hours watching HGTV with my wife. I'm good with that.