Sunday, January 27, 2008

The Sunday Salon - Some Days Just Aren't for Reading

The Sunday Salon.com

And today is one of those days. I've had the entire day off with very little responsibility that needs attending to, but I find myself unable to read much more than a chapter here or a chapter there. It's an unavoidable truth that no matter how much we may want to read, sometimes it just doesn't work out.

Today's problem is more an issue of attention span than anything. While I may be in the mood to read, whenever I begin I inevitably become sidetracked by the TV or watching the finches clustered around our bird feeder, or I start talking to B. I've knocked off a few of the remaining chapters of Great Expectations, and I'm so near the end it makes it that much more frustrating that I can't get my reading mojo going today.

But, like any good book lover, even when I can't read, I set myself to the task of amassing more books.

I've discovered a wonderful thing...a cart of free books (aptly labeled "free stuff") in the hallway of our English department right outside the elevators. You're likely to find anything from trashy romance to used textbooks to absolutely wonderfully beautiful trade paperbacks! Yeah, I stumbled upon some really good goodies.

Friday, as I was about to leave, I noticed a couple of brightly colored trade paperback gems. To my utter astonishment one of them was On Beauty, by Zadie Smith--a book I've been lusting after for some time now. I also snatched up, despite my doubts, Everything is Illuminated, by Jonathan Safran Foer. If you've been reading this blog for a while, you may know that I affectionately (OK, not really affectionately) refer to Foer as my literary nemesis. I tried Everything is Illuminated a couple of years ago and found it so pretentious that I tossed it (with glee) after about 29 pages. However, I'm willing to admit to my wildly vacillating reading moods and give it another shot. I'll keep you posted. I might fling it across the room again. And finally, I picked up Messiah, by Gore Vidal. I know nothing about the book, and I've never read anything by Vidal, but it was just too pretty a paperback to pass up.

Now if only I could make myself read...

Maybe tomorrow.

11 comments:

  1. I have days like that too, Andi. Too many probably.

    What a great idea--a cart of free books to share! Sounds like there may be some hidden treasures there.

    I hope you have a good week!

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  2. I bought "Everything Is Illuminated" a few months back but I have not found the time to read it yet. However, I did flip through a few pages and my Miss Marple effect started going. For some reason it reminded my of -ok, I know this is weird-of the movie Borat. Not necessarily the story line and all but the language, in particular the syntax reminds me of Borat. Crazy huh?

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  3. It is a great idea, LF! I'm really excited about it. It's a convenient way to get rid of my rejects, too. lol

    Fem, hmmmmm. I haven't seen the Borat movie yet. All the more reason to watch it and then read the book. :)

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  4. How amazing that you would find On Beauty in a stack of freebies. Good for you! I hope you enjoy :)

    I have days when I can't read - usually because there is something else weighing on my mind. This too shall pass...

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  5. I finally overcame the reading block tonight. I locked myself in the bedroom and voila! I finished Great Expectations. Yay!

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  6. Oh I have days like that. Difficult, when you have to read for a living (although that sounds like it ought to be a dream come true, no?). Glad to see you got into the Dickens by the end of the day!

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  7. I am coming to work in your English Department. Nothing like that ever appears in ours! Having said that, one of our theology lecturers did once start to clear his office by leaving a basket of books outside his door for people to take for small donations to character, but the likes of 'On Beauty' were not top of his reading list.

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  8. Thanks, Litlove! Yep, there are a number of wonderful things about reading for a living, but brain rot tends to be a byproduct at times. lol

    LOL, Ann! I was very pleased to see all the very readable books. Much better than obscure academic texts. ;)

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  9. Free books! How cool is that! I have On Beauty lined up for this year too.

    Do give Foer another shot. I used to think he was pretentious too (and if there's one think I hate, it's pretentiousness and "literary experimentation" just for its own sake). I guess that the fact that he is one of those authors that "look at me I'm so arty" kids name-drop all the time put me off. But then I decided to give him a shot, and now he's one of my favourite authors.

    What first changed my mind was a little book in the Penguin Pocket 70's collection called "The Unabridged Pocketbook of Lightning". I loved it. It's a really fast read, so I'd recommend trying it to see if his style works for you or not. This short story, which was later incorporated into "Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close", is a good place to start too.

    When I read "Everything is Illuminated" I had trouble getting into it at first, but later it became one of my favourite books. I guess I can see how he could be irritating. But for me his stuff works because even when things seems completely random they are there for a reason. They serve the story in some way. And he tells great, memorable and poignant stories.

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  10. I second to what you said about days when you can't read. I tend to amss more books until I'm mentally gratified. :)

    Meanwhile, the readings for the classes that I TA keep me very busy. Toni Morrison plus Tolstoy, how about that? They're from two different classes.

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  11. Nymeth, thanks for the encouragement in regards to Foer. I will definitely check out the short story you linked and give Everything is Illuminated another go.

    LOL, Matt, that's quite a variety! Enjoy!

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