Wednesday, April 9, 2008

How would you like to curl up with a good book?

Looking back at what I've read and written over the past several months, I'm slightly dismayed by the fact that it is so little. What I mean is, compared to the several-hundred-pages-a-week I was reading and the forty-or-fifty-pages-a-month I was writing a year ago, one book a month and this little blog is a little pathetic, not to mention depressing. I've had Siddhartha by Herman Hesse sitting by my bed since I finished A Death in the Family, so it's been--a while, to say the least.

I'm wondering if maybe I didn't set myself up for failure. I have a stack of books sitting beside my bed, begging to be read, and I've promised each of them that I will do so in the near future. (Has anyone else seen The Pagemaster? It always made my eyes tear up at the end when he got to keep all three books, because they were each special to him in a different way. I know, I'm a dork.) But my point is, I've got my reading list prepared, but at the rate I'm going, it's going to take a good year to get through them all.
As hard as it might be for some people to believe, I really am kind of concerned about my new slower-than-molasses-in-December wpm reading rate, especially when I walk through a library or bookstore and see just how little I've read, compared to how much is out there.

I was wondering recently why it is that I haven't been able to do any reading at all--and I mean, at all. Several weeks ago, I was sick with the flu, and couldn't bear to use my eyes in any way that wasn't absolutely required, so when I would get home from work, I'd come into my room, turn the lights low, and listen to audio books so I wouldn't have to make my eyes actually do any work. The problem, however, is that I didn't want to listen to good books--by which I mean, books out of which I meant to get any substance--because I don't absorb as much listening as I do reading.

Anyway, I don't know if I just got out of the habit of reading, or what, but suddenly, when I crack open those books, I can read for maybe a page or two and then I have to put it down. Part of this, I'm sure, is because I'm taking notes in the margins as I go, because that's a hard habit to break and I like to go back and see what I thought was important the first time I read a book, versus what I think is important the second time I read a book. My instincts have been surprisingly well-trained; normally, things that I've underlined do have a special relevance in the novel as a whole.

But the other part of this is not just simple laziness or fatigue. It's a lack of time. I figured this out recently when I broke down my day to figure out just what the hell I do with all my time, and it goes like this:

7-8 hours: sleeping (or at least laying in bed trying to sleep)
1 hour: getting ready for work
9 hours: working
1 hour: walking to and from work.
1 hour: eating dinner, preparing for work the next day, etc.

This schedule leaves me with roughly four hours a day, which I am forced to break into family time, music, reading, writing, and yoga. Unfortunately for me and my cognitive development, reading--and therefore writing--has been left out of the loop.

I had someone suggest to me today that I take the time to read just ten pages a day, because even at that slow of a rate, I'll be able to read 140 pages in two weeks. It's not a bad idea; I'll see how it goes... as will the six books that are currently staring at me while I'm wasting 7-8 hours a day sleeping.

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