Not Gonna Get Read 6 Comments

Not Gonna Get Read

I picked up a copy of Jonathan Glover’s humanity: a moral history of the twentieth century on the recommendation of a friend. A while ago. There’s a metcard bookmark dated May 2006 on page 49 (of 450). I’ve been intending to finish it ever since.

That opening was a great read, dense but insightful, and I remember getting the sense that it was heading places that were probably going to punch me in the gut in a really brutal and good way. Things came up, other books happened, and a lot of the time I don’t feel like I have the mental energy to read something that heavy on top of everything else. Still, I look at it a lot on my bookshelf (it has a pretty nice spine) and think: ‘one day.’

Should there maybe be a week where we’re all allowed to read whatever we want, without any other commitments? Like Christmas/New Year’s without the family and friends. How are people supposed to make time for reading those books? Is it even anything to do with the type of book it is? Everyone I meet is always super busy and run off their feet, when the hell do people actually read for themselves?

  • phill

    I’ve experienced one of those books recently, though to make matters worse it was lent to me by a friend. The book is ‘Darkmans’ by Nicola Barker, and I think we’re coming up on our half-year anniversary pretty soon. It has a very jumpy style, which means you really need to be concentrating hard to take in the myriad streams of consciousness that fade in and out of the text. Also, despite a lot happening, nothing much happens. :/

    I have no idea when people are actually able to summon the time and clarity of mind required to read such texts. I guess perhaps the only people that can are those whose job it is to review them and praise them so highly in the first place?

  • Saba

    That’s my relationship with Sartre’s ‘Nausea’ in a nutshell! (Well minus the metcard bookmark because they don’t have metcards in Sydney do they? They have instead a ridiculous ‘seperation of powers’ transport system [/offtopic])

    …Except that I’m actually supposed to be reading it as part of ‘research’ for an assignment (hehe, oops). However, I’m finding it to be one of those books where… the writing isn’t difficult to read, but it does requires a calm mental state in order to be absorbed into the mind. And when I get tuned in to the writing, usually one of two things happen:
    a) I get interrupted by someone/Facebook/the kettle whistling; or
    b) I mimic Roquentin (the character in the novel) and begin staring at my hand/leg/face in morbid fascination and pondering the grotesque/absurd nature of existence. Books about existentialism are distracting like that.

    I wonder if I’ll ever actually read the book properly. I know that despite what I say about interruptions it isn’t an issue of time/distractions, but of motivation – I remember when the 7th Harry Potter came out I was reading while walking, while on the bus, between full stops, under the covers with a torch, at the dinner table etc. Of course, I finished the novel in a day.

    But with ‘Nausea’, the truth is that I don’t really want to read it THAT much. If I did, I would make time for it. Instead, I am here online perusing blogs.

    Just another thought: If there was a “Read x number of novels in a month” event… like NaNoWriMo or ScriptFrenzy, except reading instead of writing? Would that help make a ‘one day’ book a ‘today’ book? (…and sorry for the cheesy tagline, I couldn’t help myself.)

    • Johannes Jakob

      Wow, amazing that you mention Nausea. I picked up a 2nd hand copy a while ago (haven’t got round to reading it yet, obviously) and a few pages in there was a little slip of paper, used as a bookmark, that reads as follows:

      ‘Dear X, I read this book a couple of years ago and loved it. Its well worth a read if you get the chance. I am still looking for the other 2 books. Love, X’

      Super harsh that not only it didn’t get read very far, it got sold to a second hand bookstore! Ouch.

      For a little while I tried dedicating 10-11pm of every day to reading whatever I wanted, but it didn’t last. The problem with resolutions like that is that they require willpower to accomplish, which is what’s lacking to begin with…

  • Sally Evans

    For me, it’s ‘Ulysses’. For the last couple of years (in fact, around this time of year when the weather’s getting colder and I inevitably have more important/valuable/assessable things to do at uni) I’ve told myself I’ll try to read Ulysses by Bloomsday.

    I have not yet succeeded. Last year was the best attempt, getting me about two-thirds finished. But then, fast-forward a year and I have to start again. And yes, every time, I start again. At this rate, sometime around 2015 I might actually get through all of it, but by that time I’ll almost certainly have to be in the workforce with even less time to dedicate to reading for pleasure. ‘Reading week’ would be so much nicer than easter for all us atheist bookworms.

    • Johannes Jakob

      Former Voiceworks EdComm member Andre Dao ran around for what seemed like a year with an increasingly busted up copy of Ulysses. Pretty sure he finished it, eventually. I think it tends to be one of those books for a lot of people, and always kind of controversy inducing re how that affects its status as a ‘should have read.’

  • RBS

    Novels, though lengthy, are usually characterised by a long and detailed vividness – one imagination is called upon. That particular narrative is built and refined and illustrated, so novels aren’t such a task when it comes to my settling in for the evening. Sizable anthologies, however, kill me. I always feel as though reading one cover-to-cover is like trying to get through the communal basket of Easter chocolate sitting in my living room; such quality, so rich and delicious, and utterly overwhelming. I find it so difficult to enter and exit these thirty or-so intense bursts of narrative that I have to put the book down and take a breather between titles! Does anyone else experience this phenomenon? This is a terrible thing to admit, but it took me two years to get through the 2007 UTS Writers’ Anthology, and I’m still not through with Best Australian Stories 2009. Interestingly, I found Melbourne University’s 2009 Anthology, a collection of some fourteen works, just wonderful to read. Perhaps we’re better off keeping collections short and leaving room for each piece to resound? Perhaps I’m a terribly lonely reader in this Antho-struggle.

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