Reading is fun. But is it work?

A recent post over at intralingo got me thinking about reading. Reading is fun. I think any literary translator who doesn’t like reading is in trouble. But if it is fun, does that mean it’s not work?

Years ago a friend mentioned that he thought people nowadays were confusing work and leisure time. People wanted to do their hobbies for a living. And literary translators would seem more at risk of falling into this trap than most.

Of course, one major drawback of doing your hobby for a living is that it won’t seem fun anymore. What you once did before going to bed will become a chore. With a degree in literature in my back pocket, I know all about having five novels to read by next Thursday. And now I know all about having to read a novel over a weekend so I can get back to the author about it on Monday morning.

None of which makes reading a chore. But the lines between work and fun have been blurred. Now I have to read novels I would like to translate one day, now I have to read other novels by the authors I’m translating, now I have to read, period.

Not that I’m complaining. The upshot is that at the end of a long day, I’m more likely to turn on the TV than pick up a book for fun. But then why do I feel guilty when I’m reading rather than translating?