I admire people who can read a whole book in one sitting. These folks always make it sound so delicious: curling up in a comfy chair with a blankie and a cup of tea, where they will savor a good novel for an afternoon, maybe stretching it into the evening. Some get under the covers. Some can stay up all night with a book. While laundry piles up and dirty dishes wait in the sink. No matter. Their book is their total focus until “The End.”
I’ve never done it.
Why? Because, to my deep embarrassment, I am the world’s slowest reader. There is no point in me even trying. If I were to sit down to read a book all the way through, I’d still be plugging away this time next year.
Ken gave me a book for Christmas and wrote on the tag: “Here is your investment gift for this year.” He’s a funny guy. But the truth is I still haven’t finished a book he gave me for Christmas two years ago. And it’s a book of short stories! I’ve had to restart at least two of the stories a couple of times because it takes so long for me to read a few pages that I totally forget what happened at the beginning of the story.
Ken got three books for Christmas. He’s already read one and is half way through the second – and it has 683 pages! I haven’t a hope of ever getting through a book that size! Not in my lifetime anyway.
But yesterday afternoon, with nothing particularly pressing on my calendar, having already poured a cup of tea and the dog having already snuggled up beside me on the couch, I thought, “I’m going to read for a half an hour!” I picked up my investment gift and opened the cover. Riley hopped off the couch and went to the door with that look on his face that translates to, “Gotta go out this minute!” I didn’t get up right away. He circled around the hall and came back to look at me. “Now?” he said with his eyes. Circle again. “Now?” I put my book down. I let him out. He didn’t need to go out. He wanted to play.
By the time I came indoors again, it was time to think about dinner. Dinner rolled into kitchen clean-up. Kitchen clean-up rolled into family dog walk. Family dog walk rolled into favorite shows on TV. Check email and Facebook. Fill in my Weight Watchers points for the day. Start this blog. Put Riley out for the last time for the day. Get into bed. Ah, maybe a chance to read.
But then, reading at bed time is hopeless for me. I’m not so much a person known for having her nose in a book. More like, I’m a person with a book on my nose (from falling asleep after reading two paragraphs, just in case you didn’t catch my drift there.) It can take a long time to get through a book that way.
(Ironically, I have a degree in English. It’s a miracle that I got it. In undergrad, I did try to read “Moby Dick” in one night; the night before my American Literature exam. I fought sleep until 2 in the morning and then finally gave up. There wasn’t any chance I was going to get through that book, even if I had started it well in advance of the final. It turned out to be my albatross. I got a humiliating “D” for that course, which seriously affected my grade point average and any chance at grad school. Fortunately, I got through undergrad on the comparatively easy reading of Shakespeare, the Iliad and the Romantic poets, plus Film 101 which required no reading at all.)
When someone asks me if I’ve read the latest best seller, I usually say, “No, not yet!” all the while thinking to myself, “Whether or not I ever do is doubtful.”
But “reading” does sound so nice, doesn’t it?
So, here it is: I resolve to read more in 2012. I could manage something in the 250-300 page range. I could let laundry pile up and dirty dishes wait in the sink if I really put my mind to it. I could teach Riley to play fetch by himself (he’s a smart dog!) I could try to read during daylight hours. Sure I could!