As the post title indicates, what follows is not, emphatically not, a summer reading plan–and not because it’s already August and the dread scent of winter is already, somehow, on the air.
I do not believe in summer reading as distinguished from other seasonal expressions of reading; I categorically deny its existence in my life. I don’t deny its presence and importance in others’ lives, but it’s a manner of organizing one’s time, one’s books, one’s brain that makes no sense to me. I wish to read only one kind of book all the live-long year: good books. This is not a diss. (It would have been at one time, I won’t lie. But as I approach true middle age, I have, I hope, gained some measure of open-mindedness. In any case, I have decided it best to decline to judge others’ reading habits; I figure reading is itself a huge win; also, other people’s leisure time habits are none of my bidniss anyway.)
You are, by now, accustomed to my wordy introductions and general tendency towards blather; but in this case, the above reflects my discomfort and sadness. I’m not gnashing my teeth sad, although it might eventually come to that; I am, rather, big sighs and slightly slumped shoulders sad. I am not lost in the doldrums, but perhaps I have misplaced my map…
Alright, here it is: starting last week (or whenever it was that I read The Lake and A Rare Benedictine (reviews coming soon)) I began to read with my current reality in mind. My current reality is very busy and I just don’t have the time I once had for reading super-fat novels. It’s taking me so long to finish longish books, in fact, that I’m losing track of them as I go–this makes for neither an ideal reading experience, nor good writing about them. As this is, in large part, a book blog, this makes no sense. And so starting immediately and for the foreseeable future, I will be reading books of no more than 300 pages; preferably, 250 maximum. Le sigh.
So, why am I so damned busy, you’re wondering? Well, a couple things. I recently became a regular contributor at Food Riot. I’ve had five pieces go up as of today, the two most recent reflecting my rather schizophrenic interests: a sentimental but, I’d like to think, restrained look back at my grandmother’s culinary expressions of love, and the strange interest I appear to be developing in professional competitive eating contests.
Also, I’ve been quite busy the last month or so working on a piece, which went live yesterday, for Open Letters Monthly. I’ve written for them before, on the lovely and disturbing works of Yoko Ogawa; this time around, I looked backwards into my beloved 17th century at the most hilarious play ever written (imho): Francis Beaumont’s The Knight of the Burning Pestle.
Also, there’s this quotidian but also monumentally shameful fact: my hold list at the library has reached its upper limit; there shall be no more holds, sayeth the Toronto Public Library, until I read my list down significantly. 60 is the magic number there, by the way; just a few months ago, I made a comment on Twitter about dealing with the 30 books I had on hold and someone laughed at my hubris.
Also, I really to finish Don Quixote in 2013.
To deal with all these problems, I will read all the short books on my library hold list and try very, very hard not to add anymore to it for the time being. I will alternate library books with the tiny books currently dying of neglect at home.
My tendency towards building my collections, either owned or borrowed, is unmanageable, to put it mildly. I collect books, one way or another, like I’m both running out of time and have approximately 1,000 years of reading remaining to me. As I turned 38 on Thursday, 1,000 years is looking a little too optimistic….
And so Operation Get Your Reading Shit Together, Woman, Dammit begins now. Please console me with kind words and cookies when I start wailing loudly for 900-page novels by Trollope and Gissing and Oliphant, okay?