So, yeah. I haven’t posted in nearly 3 months. (Three months? Really? I knew I was a slacker, but that’s just outrageous.) I have a lot to say, but I’m not sure how to say it. So for now I’ll ramble about books. There are actually four books I’ve read since I last posted (I’ll give them each an individual post over the next few days), which would be awesome, if it weren’t for the “book-a-week” title and the fact that it’s been more like 12 weeks. One of the books, though, took me a looong time to finish. And I’m honestly not sure why I even bothered.
I have many problems as a book reader:
First, I can get obsessive. When I’m reading something I like, I find it hard to put it down. I will read rather than do just about anything else (run errands, clean the house, do my job, whatever). My sister will tell you about the time I came to visit her in Alaska and went on a cruise to see impressive and amazing glaciers and spent the whole time with my nose in a book. This is largely why I don’t read basically at all when I’m not on sabbatical. If I start a book, I won’t get any grading, prep, or research done until it’s finished.
Second, I’m a completionist. When I start a book, I have to finish it, even if I don’t particularly like it. And I even do this with book series (see my frequent posts about the Southern Vampire novels). I don’t know why I do this, but I’ve pretty much there are two books that I can remember starting and never finishing. (This doesn’t count books that I’m still “in the middle of” and fulling intending to finish soon). They are:
Crazy Like a Fox by Perelman. I found this on my bookshelf maybe 20 years ago? Maybe less? It probably came from combining books with my husband, maybe something we got from his parents. Or?? I have no idea, honestly, how we got this book. But it was there, and it was supposed to be funny (according to the book jacket). So I picked it up and started reading. It seemed so incredibly racist and awful (and NOT FUNNY) to me, that I not only couldn’t read more than a few pages, I actually threw the book away. I didn’t want anyone else to read it, either. It really seemed that hateful. Googling around now, I don’t see that as a widespread opinion about the book or Perelman in general (though there are allusions to racism and his being a product of his time), but I remember that I literally couldn’t stomach the thing.
All the King’s Men by Robert Penn Warren. We read this book in my English class at the end of my senior year of high school, but the book was so long and it was so late in the year that we didn’t even come close to finishing it. Dr. Poff (English teacher) wrote in my yearbook, “Finish All the King’s Men!” And I fully intended to! I did! But somehow, I have never picked the thing up again. It’s sitting on the bookshelf in my bedroom, with the bookmark firmly in place from 1987. I could go grab it off the shelf right now; I know exactly where it is. Sometimes I have panic attacks that I haven’t read it, and what if I die without finishing it. Yes, I am that crazy.
Third, when I start reading, I get overwhelmed by choices. There are so many things I want to read, how can I possibly decide on one to read right now? The sabbatical has given me the freedom to kind of say, “fuck it… I’m slacking! I can read whatever garbage (or treasure) I want, and it just doesn’t matter!” It’s like this whole year just doesn’t count or is a bonus on regular life, so I don’t have quite the same pressure. However, because I am reading again, I have been emailing myself exhaustive lists of things I want to read. And the list is already well over the sixty or so books I’m likely to get through during the sabbatical.