Sunday, December 12, 2004

A few months ago, a friend told me that he preferred the time when I had a regular site that I updated every now and then rather than an online journal. More specifically, he liked the page w/my reading list. If he wants to know what I'm reading now, he has to search through paragraphs of absolutely irrelevant data to find it, if it's there at all. That's the problem, really. I seldom write anything about what I'm reading, so even if he takes the time to search, he's not going to find anything.

The problem is, the way I read, it's almost impossible to set a book review out in type. I finish 5-6 books a week, on average. I usually have 8-10 going at once, one to three (or more, in the living room) in every room of the house, and a couple in the car. If I finish a book at lunch, and think, "Oh, I should write a review about this," by the time I get to the computer at night, I've already started a new book and read chunks of one or two others, so I can't possibly remember what I wanted to say at lunch time.

The way I read keeps me from drawing firm conclusions about the material. For instance, right now I'm reading three different Alice Munro books. How can I possibly separate one from the other when I'm reading, especially since they're so thick w/regionalism? It can't be done, not by me. And usually what I think about a book is largely dependent on its relationship to another book I've recently read. I finished _Old School_ by Tobias Wolff last week, and my impression of it was certainly colored by the fact that I'd recently read _The Fountainhead_. If I'd just last week re-read _Old Man and the Sea_, I would have focused more intently on the third part of the book (and perhaps if I'd recently re-read _Old Man and the Sea_, I'd understand the odd structure of the book, the "Master" chapter tacked on the end). A couple of weeks ago, I simultaneously read three books about earthquakes, and without a doubt, two of the three suffered in comparison with the one I started first because it was the most technical, presented in a very linear fashion that allowed me to flip forward and backward to easily cross-check information. So, it's difficult for me to evaluate any one book as a work of writing in and of itself, my judgement is too actively and too often clouded by everything else I'm reading.

I've lately been thinking that I need to do something else besides read. I can't empty my mind of what I've been reading quickly enough to get to sleep on time. I'm late everywhere I go, because I always try to get in a few more sentences. Right now I'm listening to a book on tape in the car during my commute, but reading the same book at lunch to hurry the process along so I can move on to something else. It's starting to feel like obsessive behavior, and that's not good. So maybe I should declare a moratorium on reading for a bit, and see what else I can do to keep myself busy during my lunch hour.

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