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In defense of light reading (and watching Netflix)


With the breakdown of the internet connection this weekend came more than sufficient time to take on leisure reading. During residency I resolved not have any internet connection at home to give myself time to study and rest. It proved a wise decision, as it helped settle my mind to rest, shielding me from unnecessary distractions. A distracted person is a bad physician.

Since I moved in with my brother, I've had steady internet connection. It sometimes proved a distraction, but only during certain days. It has been useful for academic reading; anybody involved in oncology knows how fast things change in the field. But work generally exhausts me, and I treat myself to a few episodes of Netflix shows (the latest: The Kominsky Method, which my family loves) or some light reading before I go to bed, usually between 7:30 to 8 PM. How geriatric, I know. 

Being able to relax and unwind makes me a better physician--this I have long since realized. By light reading, I mean the enjoyment of non-academic literary works, regardless of whether they are high- or low-brow reading materials. I love the fact that even J. I. Packer does some light reading himself, and he includes GK Chesterton's Father Brown stories to his list. 

Light reading is not for killing time (that’s ungodly), but for refitting the mind to tackle life’s heavy tasks (that’s the Protestant work ethic, and it’s true)

You must find what refreshes you, as your senior editors have found what refreshes them. And if you will not accuse us of being wicked worldlings for our light reading, I will not accuse you for watching all those TV sitcoms and sports programs that so bore me. Fair? Surely—and Christian, too.

My light reading list includes: Nick Joaquin's The Woman Who Had Two Navels and Tales of Tropical Gothic, Dean Francis Alfar's A Field Guide to the Roads of Manila, Stephen Charnock's The Doctrine of Regeneration (certainly not a light read, but one that keeps me awake, as it is a voluminous study on the theological subjects of salvation and conversion), Michael Dirda's Browsings, and Marilynne Robinson's Why Are We Here?.

"Refitting the mind to tackle life's heavy tasks"--now I like the sound of that.

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