Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Reading update and goals

On trying to read better and more.

Reading is what they call a garden of forking paths. You read a book, you complete a bit, and then you get referred to hundred others. The more you read, the longer grows the reading wishlist. All the time, trying to make a dent in it and balancing it with all the other good things in life, and reading about reading and books and authors and their thoughts. And when not doing that, reading about the world, and watching and listening, and learning. Sometimes, I get this strange despair that even a lifetime of reading won't be enough time to read all the stuff I want to read!

Still, the way a good book pleases, very few experiences can be compared to it. So despite the never-ending reading list, I try to go slow, to get completely soaked in the story. Balancing these conflicting desires: one, to read quickly to get on to the next book, and the other, wanting the current moment to stretch and stretch to make reading a fully enriching experience.

These days, I have three open books. Was reading John Cheever's Collected Stories - a big book with lots and lots of stories (love the slow bit there. Savoring each one). Was reading this in September. Then came the holiday, where I decided to travel light and started reading Mill on the Floss on kindle.

I have been able to read some long-staying-in-thoughts books over the last few months. And each good book finished leaves me with this gaping, lost feeling. I want the story to continue and go on reading about the life of those well loved characters, or about that interesting world or sometimes just author's thoughts. There is this low that comes over me until I pick up something new and can immerse myself in. I loved Middlemarch and wanted a bit more of that world and time and George Eliot.

Midway on Mill on the Floss. And the third one is Contact, by Carl Sagan. Bought this for the plane ride back to Sydney. So much simpler to put on some good music and read a book on a plane than browse through the entertainment system and decide on which movies or shows to work through!

Both Contact (first 100 pages), and Mill on the Floss seem to have strong female leads. One seems to spot the rebel in both of them, and I like reading them side by side. And it becomes all the more stark given Maggie could not do what she pleased while Ellie (Contact), led her life the way she pleased. None of the Victorian heroines would have done that...could not do that. Even though there is still a long way to cover, world has grown up and come forward a long way from those times.

Apart from these fiction books, there are a lot of borrowed non-fiction books sitting next to me. I love the idea of exploring (without necessarily completing) a book. Especially those that end up being repetitive explaining the same idea over and over again. It is easy to speed work through them. There are only a few excellent NF books that you feel like not missing a word of. Hoping that sometime will be able to complete Antifragile and Second hand time. (Both are my recent purchases after repeated borrowings from the library could not make me complete them. They seem to be books which one can read only a little bit of everyday).

So, have been exploring and trying to improve my reading habits. Hoping that over the coming days, I'll have more frequent updates on this page. And even if it is a small note, I do hope that I write a bit on what I've read.

Happy reading.

(Draft from mid Oct)

Update (26/10/2016): Finished Mill on the Floss. And then, read the pretty much un-put-down-able Hunger by Knut Hamsun. And the bookmark is still almost at the same place on Contact. Reading Collected Stories on and off. Need to begin the aspiration list books (Svetlana A and Antifragile).


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