Tuesday, December 30, 2008

On Reading

I am not a fast reader; so, I occasionally sink into envy when I learn of avid readers who can consume hundreds of books a year. I am also not an analytical reader (which seems odd since my profession requires me to be analytical). I either liked the book or I didn't - but I can't always articulate the specifics. I am a reader with many books, but with the limited resource of time. When I have the time, I want something to "read" read (a quote I must credit to James Mustich's wife.) I know exactly what she meant. I have often picked up a book hailed as a masterpiece - only to set it down after a few chapters, frustrated and angry that I "just don't get it." Certainly, those works are valuable and are to be treasured and read. But, on those occasions when I want to "read" read, I pick up a book with complex sentence structures or difficult allusions cautiously - or maybe not at all. Although I have read James Joyce's Ulysses I neither understood nor enjoyed it very much. It was a labor, in fact. I try not to think too badly about myself over it. On quite the other hand, Anna Karenina by Tolstoy was a fast and easy read for me over the Christmas break my junior year in college, despite its length...and depth. Does my failure to "get" Joyce, or the ease with which I read Tolstoy say anything about my abilities as a reader? No, of course not. The whole purpose of reading - for me -where I am right now - is the sheer joy of the pastime. So here I am...I continue to plod along. All I ask is that my time be well spent in the pleasant company of a book I will love and a book I can discuss with other book lovers. In pursuit of that goal, I hope to "get by with a little help from my friends."


  1. Wonderful post! I'm an incredibly slow reader myself. And like nearly everyone on the planet, my time is limited. So I want to read something that speaks to me. I don't care if it speaks to literature professors everywhere, if it's going to feel like work, you can keep it!

  2. Could not agree with you more, Debi. I used to feel as though I failed when I could not see in a book what "experts" told me I should. Age has been a great friend in that department. Like Popyeye, Iyam what Iyam!