Posted on 10/17/2021 in Books | comments
Earlier in the year I wrote that this would be the year that I finally finished reading The Brothers Karamazov. At the time I felt certain it could be done. “If I read 3-4 pages every day I’ll be done before the year is over!” Well, best laid plans and all that. I keep saying I like the story and that is true but given my atrocious reading habits for the past, well, decade and the fact that we are still living through a pandemic, even just 3 pages of a Russian novel a day has proven to be too ambitious.
Which doesn’t mean I haven’t been reading. As the image shows, I’ve actually surpassed my Goodreads reaching goal for the year. That hasn’t happened since 2015. So reading isn’t the issue. It’s reading something that actually requires the brain to really think that’s the problem. At the end of the day, when I discover that I’ve watched everything there is to watch on Netflix or Hulu, I turn to reading books that flow, that entertain but don’t tax the already overly taxed brain.
The Brothers Karamazov shall have to wait. Maybe next year. See, this is the good thing about books. You can literally shelve them and they never get upset, they don’t complain that you’re neglecting them. They don’t vague tweet or Facebook post about how you’ve ghosted them because you’re a mean mean person. And they smell good. So really there is no downside to books. You heard that here first. I’m sure.
Posted on 1/11/2021 in Books | 1 comment
I have been trying to get through The Brothers Karamazov for probably two decades now. I’ve lost track of how many times I’ve started it. I do know that one time I read about a third of the book before I lost it in a move. (I lost a whole box of some of my favorite books during the same move; a fact that still causes me pain to this day but that’s not the point of the post.)
People ask me why I keep trying to finish this book; they tell me life is too short to force oneself to read books, even if the book is a classic. I had a doctor once tell me, when she saw the book in my hand, “I am Russian and I am telling you, do not read that. He was crazy.” The thing is, I do like the story. I do like the writing. It’s just dense. That magical time when I read about a third of the book, I still had no clue who killed the father. I am not giving anything away here. You learn early on that one of the three brothers kills the father. Three hundred some pages in and not one clue! How is that possible?! I have read Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment and The Idiot and found both to be great reads. I’m not sure what the difference between the three books is - maybe it’s just that as I’ve gotten older my attention span has shortened and dense reads make for really, really slow going.
It’s been so long since I last picked up the book that I’m realizing I will have to start over from page one. I don’t mind - as I said, I do l like the book. But I am awfully tired of having it get the better of me so I’ve resolved that this will be the year it is finally finished. So with this entry I announce my intentions - every day I will read at least three pages. If the mood and time permits I can read more but it has to be at least three pages a day. This means it will potentially take me all year to finish the book, if I only read the minimum but we’re all about manageable goals this year so that’s okay.
So, periodically I will provide updates. Let’s see how it goes, shall we?
Posted on 3/7/2017 in Books | comments
After reading a blog post on Bookriot about reading rules I started thinking about mine.
- Never dog ear a book. I tend to not use bookmarks and if I do, it’s something thin, like a receipt or even a square of tissue.
- Related to the above, if the book is new, I endeavor to not break the spine. For quick reads, it appeals to me to be done with a book and still have it look good as new.
- That said, if a book requires thought and time to finish and understand, having it gently show wear also appeals to me.
- I like to have more than one book going at the same time. They have to be of different topics so it’s easy to keep track of each book’s progress. I move between books as the moods strikes but inevitably one book will rise above the rest and compel me to devote my time to only it. I let the stories tell me how to read.
- I’ve tried to get into reading books on the Kindle but I find that I still prefer reading paper books best. Although I’ve been reading A Tale of Two Cities on the Kindle, progress is so slow. I blame the ability to be distracted so easily. No matter how engrossed I think I am in a story, when I hear a ding or feel the buzz of the phone in my hand, I am pulled away to check emails or make a move on a game. I wish I were better able to ignore the notifications but that seems to only happen when I’m holding a paper book in my hands.
- If it’s a series, I have to read the books in order.
- I try to end at a chapter but that’s sometimes difficult if I’ve read long into the night and have to admit that sleep is more necessary than getting to the end of a chapter.
- At some point in a story, I find the need to know the ending. I don’t fight this; sometimes all I need to do is read the last page, sometimes it’s the last chapter. Only once has this actually ruined a book for me. Knowing how a book ends detracts not one bit from wanting to know how it got to that ending.
- No marginalia on quick reads. But I do make rare exceptions on school books, history/philosophy books, etc. Basically any books that I a) intend on keeping and b) require significant thought to understand.
- Unless I am sure that I will be reading the book multiple times, I gift/donate the book so that others can enjoy it.
I think those cover my rules. Though it does feel as if I’m missing something.
Posted on 2/1/2016 in Books | comments
I expected to like Carrie Fisher’s book, Postcards from the Edge, because I enjoyed the movie. Though I haven’t seen it in a while scenes from the movie, lines, the tone in which those lines were delivered often pop into my head. (“It twirled up!”)
To my surprise I didn’t care for the book. So much so that I felt guilty and out of touch. I’m supposed to like this, I thought. Where or when this was message was picked up by me I do not know. With trepidation I opened a Gchat window and sent a message to Miss Bliss, “is it wrong,” I asked, “that I don’t like postcards from the edge?” After explaining why - seems too self indulgent, too pithy, I didn’t care for any of the main characters etc - I decided to absolve myself from the senseless guilt and just let it be. Though this is where I perhaps express some delight in not having a library card. Ha! There’s no card to strip me off, library mafia! That is a thing, yes? Oh, why am I asking? As if anyone would admit it.
After the chat, I thought I was done thinking about the book but I was wrong. As I finished my dinner from a fast food place it hit me. The main reason why this book troubles me. In my chat with Bliss I mentioned that the description of Suzanne’s therapy sessions was the reason I chose to not become a therapist. The idea of sitting day after day listening to people analyze their lives and yet make no progress- I wasn’t built for that! How dreadful, I thought then and I still think that now.
But with the smell of the burger and fries still lingering in the air, the grease sitting heavy in my stomach, I thought, “That’s me. I’m Suzanne.” Mind you, this is no grand epiphany. I’ve had probably every thought one can have about food and dieting, fat and exercise in the oh 40-some years of living in this world as a fat person.
No, the epiphany was that I didn’t dislike the book for the writing, the unlikable characters, the overly pithy dialogue. I disliked it for something Ms. Fisher can’t control. Her book was a mirror and the reflection I saw is of something I say I want to change and yet I haven’t found the strength to do so. Much like Suzanne keeps gravitating to men who don’t fill the void she’s feeling, I keep choosing food that does nothing but leave me feeling weak, out of control and undisciplined. I’m the person on the couch, year after year, boring the therapist with my overly indulgent thoughts as to why I make these choices, rationalizing them, and still not capable of just stopping.
As a psychology major I believe we work our good and bad habits for a reason. What I can’t or won’t admit to myself is exactly what I get from staying fat. It isn’t a love of food. Oh, do I wish it were that. At least if that were the case I would have enjoyed getting this fat.
So, these are things I’m pondering. I also wonder if I should go back to Goodreads to revise the three star rating I gave the book. I’m not sure yet.
The only thing I’m sure about is that I’m feeling good that I went to the gym and did 40 minutes on the treadmill. I didn’t make great food choices today and the one gym session won’t undo all the calories I took in but it was one good decision. And for now one good decision will have to do.