Monday, June 15, 2009

A Gross of Books, or, How I Read

The other day I reached page 144 of Infinite Jest. On that same day I realized that I am currently reading 144 books. That's one (1) gross. A gross of books. People say you should focus on one book at a time. I wouldn't be able to do that. Sometimes you're not in the mood to read a certain kind of book. It might be fine for one day, but not for the next. Different books require different levels of concentration too. When I read I need to be able to think exactly what the author was thinking, or else I can't go on. It's like every thought, every chain of thoughts, have these cavities with specific contours that I have to fill like a hand goes in a glove. I have to put myself in the mind of the author/character, and if something doesn't seem to follow logically from the previous thought, then I can't go on until I try to figure out what the author or character is thinking. Sometimes I have to force it and I continue reading but I feel uncomfortable. This can stop me for up to twenty or thirty minutes on a single page. This is why it takes me so long to read.

That's how it is with (conventional) prose. With poetry it's not a problem since things don't have to follow logically. Well, in certain kinds of poems it can be a small problem, but still not a big problem.

My goal is to lower that number from 144 as close as I can to zero before I start reading any new books. That's not realistic, so what I might do instead is finish two, start one (no more than one). That way the number goes down, but I still get to start new books.

Another reason it takes me so long to read is because I have trouble trusting page numbers. I worry that when I turn a page I'll accidentally pull one too many, or that there's a printing problem and pages got left out. That's happened to me twice now, so it's become a compulsion, flipping the corner of the page back and forth for several minutes before I can continue. I'm getting better with this though.

Still trying to decide whether to start Ulysses tomorrow.

2 comments:

  1. I just started INFINITE JEST. I'm also reading 2666, THE WANDERERS, PIMP, RULES FOR DRINKING FORTIES, PARADISE LOST, and THE COLLECTED POEMS OF THE EARL OF ROCHESTER.

    I don't know how I feel about Bolaño....

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  2. i don't know how i feel about him either, but that's only because i haven't read him yet.

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