". . . little shall I grace my cause

In speaking for myself. Yet, by your gracious patience,

I will a round unvarnish'd tale deliver . . ."

(William Shakespeare's Othello, I.iii.88-90)

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

More on Reading

I promised a follow-up to my previous post on reading, so for what it's worth, here it is.

I have noticed in the last few weeks a lot of online chatter on the topic of reading. Here's one example. My friends are talking about reading, too. Someone recently invited me to join Goodreads. Perhaps it's just that phenomenon whereby when something is on your mind you are more likely to notice when others also pay attention to it. Or maybe it's because it's January and everyone's making New Year's resolutions, some of which include reading plans and lists for the coming year.

For the record, I am not going to make a "to be read" list. I am not writing any New Year's resolutions. I have enough discouragement in my life; I don't need to plant the seeds for more. And besides, I think my reading and exercise awakenings have less to do with the advent of a new calendar year than with things like my oldest leaving home and back and foot pain continuing to vex. Death's carriage is approaching and the flies are buzzing and the rosebuds calling and at the moment I am listening. The current picture on my wall calendar is coincidental.

So. To read a book--perchance to finish it!--that is the aim. My friend Susan, in her comment on my previous post, empathized with my problem but said that her primary impediment to reading is finding the blocks of time to make it happen. My problem is a bit more primitive: the question is not "May I read?" but rather, "Can I?" Sure, first I need to carve out the time, but I can do that if only I wake up early enough. The real trick is maintaining my concentration and focus long enough to complete a chapter.

Yesterday and today after I woke up and poured my coffee I didn't immediately head for my computer to check email, Facebook and headlines. Instead I opened The Hobbit, which I recently began reading along with my daughter. We started last week and she is of course already ahead of me but I am hopeful that I will be able to keep from falling too far behind. I have never read the whole book. Somehow I got through school without its ever having been assigned, and it is not the type of book I tend to select of my own accord (I am not a huge fan of fantasy). But having been repeatedly urged by my son to read it, I finally got around to trying a few years go. The problem was that by then my reading drought had already begun, so after slogging through for a few chapters I gave up, somewhere around the spiders. I know The Hobbit is a children's book, but to me at the time it seemed laborious and plodding. This second attempt is going much better, buoyed by my current reading emphasis as well as my reading partner. I am getting the humor and eloquence I missed before, and I think my reading is being aided by our use of an edition of the book that is larger, better laid out, and more aesthetically pleasing than the edition I previously tried. Instead of a pocket paperback with teeny weeny print, we are reading this version with Tolkien's original drawings. It seems odd that the physical form of the book could make such a difference, but I think it does.

I have decided that for now I will not join Goodreads. I think any attempt to quantify my reading would backfire at this point. The point right now is to read, not to make lists of what I have read and haven't read and not to discuss with my friends or read their book reviews. Perhaps that will come later. But I need to show some reading success before I go on to anything else. I think Goodreads would be a distraction, and I already have enough of those. Heck, my own brain is a distraction.

On to Chapter 5. Wish me luck, my preciousssss.


Susan said...

If it makes you feel any better, I couldn't read the Hobbit the first few times I tried, and that was when I was still in my strength-of-brain mode where I was reading all the time. When Maggie asked me to read it to her (before the movie comes out) I willing determined that we'd do this together and it would be fun. But it was hard for me to sit down with her, simply because the fantasy/adventure (or whatever genre it is) doesn't appeal to me. Now, give me historical quasi-romantic fiction (with humor!!) and I can find a lot more impetus to reading.

Leah said...

Yeah, lately it's gotten really bad. I've reverted to... comics!

(this one reminded me of you: http://leahhome.blogspot.com/2012/01/funny-stuff.html )

Cheryl said...

Leah--BWAHAHAHAHA! Love that one! (So true.)

Susan, you are not the only person that has said that to me in the last few days (about The Hobbit). Glad to know I'm in good company! It was so hard to read last time. I can't figure out why, but this time it has been a breeze, even with my life-induced ADD. Weird.