A life devoted to learning and meditation, sheltered from the distractions of the wider world, holds quite a lot of appeal for me. I love reading and writing, playing and listening to music. Of course, I'd miss a lot of those distractions, many of which are quite enjoyable. And of course, some of the things a monkish scholar like Knecht foregoes, like romantic love, are much more than mere distractions. There is also the question that Knecht grapples with at various points in the story, of whether withdrawing from the worlds of business and politics to pursue a purely intellectual, artistic, spiritual existence is a responsible thing to do.
I've read more exciting books, and books that were ultimately more thought-provoking and made me feel more deeply for the characters. But The Glass Bead Game held my attention well enough, and Hesse's clear, well-crafted sentences actually had a calming, meditative effect, giving me a small but welcome taste of the main character's contemplative life.