I don’t usually count page numbers in a book when I choose it. But yesterday, after toting Middlemarch to work and back for a few days, I started wondering just how big a bite I’d taken. Peeking to the back confirmed things. At 800 pages, it’s the heifer of the year, but instantly rewarding. Only 200 pages in, I’m hooked, and hopeful of finishing it before Thanksgiving.
Numberswise, this has been the best year for reading that I’ve had. Yet, with each volume that I pull from the shelf or bring from the library, I’m conscious of how many more I’ll never find the time to read. It’s enough to wake a person in the middle of the night. Snippets of reviews, titles, impressions, words, all combine to produce daily in my head something like a whirlwind symphony that’s only loosely orchestrated and conducted solely on the fly. It’s a bit of a conundrum. Opportunities for literary choice have never been so abundant, but the more I read about books, the less precious time there is to sit quietly in a sunny spot with the 800 page gorilla.
These thoughts don’t even begin to explore the need to discuss and to write about books with other readers. It’s something I can’t do without now, having become proudly addicted to Palimpsest and World Literature Forum. What is a reader to do? I get nervous when there aren’t enough long hours to read, so I fill the short stretches by dipping into discussion. Which leads to extended stretches of clicking and to more tangents than there are universes. Then, occasionally trying to write about some bit or another of it all here. It’s the delicious and unsolvable problem. And everyone knows that it’s rude to raise a problem without offering a solution. So, I’ll make a small resolution to write here once a week for discipline and to stop worrying about the books I can’t have, focusing on the enjoyment of the one at hand. There, that feels better.