Monday, 7 January 2013

Z plans to skip

I've whinged before about my lack of reading libido of late.  That is, I read loads, but by the time I've read papers for various meetings, newspapers, blogs and so on, I don't seem to have much concentration left for actual books.  That I've been blaming it on the average modern novel has been given credence by the fact that, over the past couple of years, many of the books I've read with enthusiasm have been classics.  I've re-read War and Peace, Crime and Punishment, Vanity Fair, La Peste and L'étranger, the latter in French, except for the words I couldn't be bothered to look up, Huckleberry Finn ... oh, I can't remember, but you get the picture.  But otherwise, I read a few pages and lose interest and it takes me ages to get through a book I would previously have read in a day.

I may have discovered another reason.  I'm being too thorough.  Read this, my darlings, and then come back to me.  Because I was talking to a friend the other day who said he had never been able to enjoy anything of Tolkein's, though he'd read The Hobbit to his children (when they were, they've grown up now) and they'd loved it, he'd been bored as a stiff.  I kept quiet, I enjoyed the books too - but now I realise that I skipped through a fair lot.  When it gets onto overly descriptive bits that interfere with the plot, my eyes go 'yeah, yeah' and whizz through until something interesting happens.

When I was a child, I read very quickly.  I zipped along, getting the feel and the mood of the book, and the story itself and, if I liked it, it wouldn't be long before I read it again.  In fact, sometimes I read the last page, turned back to the first and read it again straight away, taking in anything I'd missed.  I carried on reading quickly for years, until I deliberately slowed down when, buying three or four books a week and reading them in a couple of days, I realised I'd got a habit I couldn't afford.  Yes, I could have gone to the library - actually, I did that too.  I couldn't keep up with myself.

I've come to the conclusion that it's because of all the documents I have to read thoroughly: I pay a novel too much attention and a lot of them don't merit it.  So I'm going to try speeding up again.

By the way, that article - check out pˆnk s lord sükråt cunctør's comments - so that I don't have to.  I was quite unable to read them, my eyes glazed and my tongue dribbled.  This is exactly the sort of thing I was talking about. 

5 comments:

georgie said...

I don't understand any of it, but then(besides Walden Pond), I never got into reading The Hobbit, Lord of the Rings, Watership Down etc.

dinahmow said...

As with any big new book(or series), the internet shimmers under the spawning big-noters.
[I just cut the rest of this comment when I realised I'd be one of them!]

A few years ago, I read The Hobbit to some Grade 4s(nine year olds, not the brightest class,several dyslexics) and, while I skipped quite a bit of the long passages, I read at as a performance piece, involving the children with sound effects and other interaction and at the end of each day got the kids to draw one of the characters.End of term, I devised a quiz, with 2 teams and their own supporters.
Some of those children discovered how much fun could be had from words-on-paper and I used to see them poring over library shelves.

But the pontificating nonsense, like that blog and the comments has an automatic switch-off effect on me.

allotmentqueen said...

Thank you. I read The Hobbit when I was a student and it prompted me to go on and read Alan Garner's books (which as my family lived in Cheshire at the time seemed quite local) and Ursula K. Le Guin's books, although I have never read Lord of the Rings as I've never felt able to commit to quite so much in one go.

I found the p^nk person's first comment quite interesting, but the second one lost me altogether.

Back in the late '70s (at around the time when I was dating DJs - and Oxford fellows) I was briefly a primary school teacher and I used to read to my class at the end of each day. I used to consciously choose books that either enabled me to have a cliffhanger each day, or I'd amend things so that they did.

BTW - my last school was run by Dominican nuns and the local priest was Fr Tolkien (brother of JRRT). The school has since been demolished and there is a housing estate there now, but one of the roads is "Tolkien Way". Che sera sera.

Tim said...

When I was working I used to read as fast as possible, skipping, out of necessity. Now that I’m over-leisured, I’ve slowed right down. The best books create a world out of myriads of tiny details, and the slower you read the more you enter that world. If I find myself skipping now, it’s a sure sign that the book’s no good.

Z said...

I seem to have a short attention span. I even eat quickly or I get bored and stop, which sounds like a good idea until I'm hungry half an hour later.