Another rant on the subject of writing, this time referring to books and the reading thereof. OK, I suppose this post is mostly about reading. Maybe something in it will stir those silent few lurkers from Writing.com who joined me a couple of posts ago into some sort of action. Even if it is just to close the door quietly as they leave.
A quick question. As we are still sailing fairly close to Jan 1st, have you set yourself a goal. Have you decided how many books you are going to read this year yet? If not, why not? If you have, then again I must ask, why?
It isn’t an original question. This is a question posed by Book Riot (not linked, as I don’t know how), a youknowwhat page/site full of friendly eager folk, which I have just stumbled upon, liked, commented on, read a bit further, and finally decided to unlike again. I’m an independent thinker – some who would rather I followed the herd might say curmudgeonly – and this question appearing on my doodah-line irked me a little too much.
As an aside, wouldn’t you know it, the self-proclaimed judge of J K Rowling turned up on there to stick their two pennies worth in. It seems that everyone must have their opinion but before I ventured a public suggestion that JKR was at best an indifferent author, I would first check that I had published a few books and had a few million in the bank. Otherwise this would not be a review by one of her peers. It would just sound like envy talking.
So. It apparently only takes a month to write one, so how long does it take to read a book? A couple of days? Would a week mark me down as slow? My excuse is that I only read at night. So we could compromise on three days. There are (dum-de-dum) one hundred and twenty (ish) such periods in a year. So your list could be that long. 120 books!! That’s a stretch. Isn’t it? 120 books, end to end. Put one down. Pick up the next one. Keep going, don’t stop. You made a pact. Remember?
Pretend I’m the ghost of Christmas that has yet to be, and come with me to the end of 2014. Think back on those books and list them in chronological order for me. Put that away! That’s a list you wrote as you went along. Hark at me being old-fashioned. They are all there, on the E-Reader of your choice. Put it down and try to remember. I couldn’t. Any more than I would be able to discuss at length any aspects of more than maybe twenty of the books. As I said in my comment on the site, even being generous, if you give yourself less than a week to thoroughly enjoy a book then you are doing yourself, the book, and the author a disservice. Actually, that’s not what I said in my comment. My opinion was that it was not called Reading, it was called Collecting.
Here is another opinion. What I like to think of as the healthy option.
If you must collect books, write yourself a ToDo* list. Set aside a notebook. A book of all of the books you would like to read. Don’t discount anything on the strength of someone’s opinion. You don’t need their permission. Review your list regularly. Tick, if you like, those on the list that you have read. Highlight the entry if you would like to read that work again. Forget to tick and see if you recognise the book the second time around. Leave plenty of room. Write notes to your future self about what particularly moved you about a book, or what didn’t. Cheat often, and read books not on the list, but add them in as if they were already there. Heaven forbid that you follow the list in the order you wrote it. And, most important for your well-being, do not set yourself against any clock other than that of life itself. At the end of it all, you will feel better about yourself, though you will have barely scratched the surface of literature, and you will have amassed a potentially valuable resource for those readers who come after you.
Happy New Year!!
* Is this a copyrighted term? If it is, thanks to whomsoever it might concern.