Many years ago — long before the Internet and delivery services that could find you anywhere — I did an internship in South Dakota.
I spent the summer in an old farmhouse ten miles north of the nearest wide place in the road, ten miles south of a town of enough size to have a real grocery store, and twenty-five miles from work at the legal services office on the Crow Creek Reservation in Fort Thompson.
For foolish reasons probably related to intellectual pretensions, I only took two books with me: Sartre’s Being and Nothingness and Joyce’s Ulysses.
It probably goes without saying that I didn’t manage to finish either one.
I remain profoundly grateful that the grocery store in Highmore included several novels by Kurt Vonnegut among the mass market paperbacks featured on its racks. I’m not sure how Vonnegut ended up with that sort of distribution, but I read several of his novels that summer.
I also lacked a television — which I didn’t miss — and the only radio was in my car. For the first month or so, I lived alone.
Looking back, I really wish I had taken a large pile of books with me. I’m not sure any town (none of them, not even the state capital Pierre, came close to being a city) I went to over the summer had a bookstore.
The closest movie theater was fifty miles away. If there was a night club anywhere, I never saw it.
I’m not sure how I got by without a newspaper. Probably we got one at the office. And fortunately, at the end of the summer when the most important US news happened — Nixon’s resignation — I had a roommate and TV.
I mean, I wouldn’t have wanted to miss Nixon’s resignation.
But the real point of this story is that even when you don’t have anything to read or watch or anyplace to go, you will still not read that important book that you don’t really want to read.