I used to read large chunks at a time–a novel in two days, that kind of thing. But now that I have a toddler in tow, my reading comes in bits and pieces, often interrupted, always expecting to be interrupted. I'll occasionally get some reading in before bed, or on the rare occasion that I get up before my son; more accurately, when my dogs wake me up before my son, and then only if I'm feeling ambitious. I reserve the big (big meaning 3 hours) chunks of alone time I get (glorious preschool!) to writing. And then there is the ever infamous basement I want to clean out this summer. I've given away 5 garbage bags of crap to charity and haven't made a dent. And, we've put many more things down there recently. Bleh.
I started thinking of my reading habits while compiling my 'Reading' list for this blog. The list is to share, but it's also for me to keep track of the books I've started, the ones I want to read next. Making this list is a bigger endeavor than I thought. I knew I was scattered, but while working on said list I realized I am literally in the middle of about 15 or 20 books, maybe more. Most of them are novels or books of short stories, a few are non-fiction. And I'm not even counting the literary magazines–we won't talk about that pile-up, like the copies of One Story that aren't even opened. Or how I'm behind on Tin House, which I do love dearly. To give you a preview since I haven't finished the static page yet: at the top of my in-progress list are On Beauty, Invisble Man, Winesburg, Ohio, Polysyllabic Spree, and Quicksilver. And just this morning I finished Other Electricities, which if I have time later I'll discuss further. It was really good, but kind of like being drop kicked, or held under water…a sort of immersion.
Reading habits are tough to maintain as a “grown-up,” even in the summertime. Forgive my scare-quotes but it is a relative term for perpetual academics such as myself. I find keeping a consistent work schedule of writing, chores, errands, and free time allow me to schedule some time in front of the books as well. Just today I managed to finish thirty more pages of Ulysses, which I’m rereading for the fifth time. I’m also in the middle of reading The Defense by Nabokov, The Life and Games of Mikhail Tal, and fascinating short story by Austin Bunn called The Ledge in One Story. On the list, which is the subject of this blog post I’m responding to, includes Faulkner’s The Sound and the Fury, Morrison’s Beloved, Gardner’s On Becoming a Novelist, and Tevis’s The Hustler. I also want to find time to read DeLillo’s Americana, Bellow’s Seize the Day, and Gass’s Omensetter’s Luck for, you know, fun. But Rome wasn’t built in a day and a novel wasn’t read in an hour. However, an hour each day might just get me through my list.
Ah, yes, an hour each day–which means I should refrain from opening a beer and watching Hell’s Kitchen (I don’t have cable, people). I remember reading all day in the summers; of course, that must have been when I was a pre-teen, which makes me ask the question Why did I spend do much time reading Sweet Valley High?
The Sound and the Fury is on my list, too…and Beloved rocks.