Here's what I wrote in 2006. There is still a tonne of stuff I read *for the sole purpose* of being entertained. I don't think of it as shameful and, now that I'm older, I question the book:sheet music analogy she makes here. There is a special joy in letting some books just wash over you like a wave. Sheet music is terrible for that. Of course, we should engage with art, but sometimes we can just let it comfort and distract us.
Zadie Smith recently had this to say about reading on KCRW's show Bookworm. I should add that KCRW (which is like the CBC Radio of Los Angeles) is awesome and that any and all of their radio shows should be downloaded as podcasts of iTunes. Highly entertaining, good for long bus/car rides when you don't want to *just* listen to music. Anywho, I'm often guilty of the lazy reading she calls out here:
Smith: I think of reading as a skill and an art. And if you read badly –- I always think a good example -- I’ve been trying to write this essay on [David] Foster Wallace and when you first read Foster Wallace, or when critics read him, they give him back the thing that they think they see, which is some smart aleck with smart language, but [they have] no idea of what this --
Silverblatt: Yes, that he’s trying to determine what truth is. What can be said truly.
Smith: Exactly. An incredible ethicist and serious moral writer. But there’s a kind of superficial layer of him, which if you can’t be bothered to think any deeper, it just seems, 'Here’s some wise guy, with his wiseass stories.' And that’s not true. But the problem with readers, the idea we’ve been given of reading is that the model of a reader is the person watching a film, or watching television. So the greatest principle is, 'I should sit here and be entertained.' And the more classical model is the idea of a reader as an amateur musician. An amateur musician who sits at the piano, has a piece of music, which is the work, made by somebody they don’t know who they probably couldn’t comprehend entirely, and they have to use their skills to play this piece of music. The greater the skill, the greater the gift that you give the artist and the artist gives you. That’s an incredibly unfashionable idea of reading. And yet when you practice reading, and you work at a text, it can only give you what you put into it. It’s an old moral, but it’s completely true