Monday, October 05, 2009

A Very Early Bonus Post

Gran Marnier in a little handblown glass, the sound of Ernie snoring on the back of the couch for music. It's early to post, and the main thing I wanted to post about I would normally put on Stranded in the South, but Ernie seems to have hijacked that blog. Drat him. I'm going to have to put a lock on my laptop! I can't even get a shower without him sneaking onto it. And he thinks I don't notice. Hah. I am a mother. Need I say more? Though he did pull one on me tonight when he slipped outside on the heels of the dogs. Nearly gave me heart failure when I discovered he was gone. Even wearing the collar with all my info on it and being micro-chipped, I really didn't want him to spend a wet night outdoors.

Anyway, at one minute to midnight tonight as I was winding down from a looong day in the studio, I had an epiphany. The kind of books that I like to read depend entirely upon the circumstances of the reading! Okay, it's an obscure statement and a weird epiphany for midnight, but I was in the studio till 11:00 pm getting four full kiln loads in after a completely packed day, and my brain was/is zinging.

In the past year I have changed my reading habits. The change was facilitated by the Kindle, but it also came about because I have less and less time to read so I squeeze it in whenever--and wherever--I can. The wherever can be tricky. Often I have five minutes to read, but I don't have time to hunt up my current book and take it into the downstairs powder room. The solution? Keep a dedicated book in the powder room. Then there's the book for the master bathroom. Then there's the chapter book I read to Jessie every night. What's so different about this style of reading? I have *always* read only one book at a time. For better or worse, I have slogged through duds and rushed through favs One Book At A Time.

Until not too long ago I didn't even know there were people who read more than one book at a time. Then Ren wrote about all the books she was in the middle of. Then Bill of Black Cat mentioned reading multiple books at a time (I think it was Bill) and I was amazed. What a concept! So I started tried it out. Now, several months on, I had my epiphany. I have always tended towards books with lean description, fast action and faster dialog. These books are best read non-stop. They lose something if the pace of the reading is too different from the pace of the action. When I try to read one of these books in the five-minute powder room intervals, I don't enjoy it as much--and, more tellingly, I don't think it is as good of a book as I would have if I had read it all in an evening or two.

Then there are the kinds of books that I have always had to be dragged to; literary books. Books where what's happening is far less important than the words the author uses to describe it. Such a book is my current powder room selection, The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery (translated from French). What's happening in the book isn't nearly as interesting as the life observations of the characters and their monologues/dialogs/diatribes. Five - ten minutes is just enough to refresh me, pick my brain up, and send me back to work. But I couldn't read a book like that (or The Secret Life of Bees, or The Red Tent, or The Poisonwood Bible, or on and on) in an intense evening. When I sit and read for hours, I skim. The words are less important than the vibrant, fast-moving images I see in my mind. I want to get There. The leaner the prose, the tighter the action, the better. Those other books are too complicated for that kind of reading. If you read them fast for the action and you race all the way through, you end up scratching your head going, was that all?

A last note on this subject and then I think I'm tired enough to sleep. Maybe the difference in readers and their taste in books is not a difference in sophistication and literariness, but a difference in the speed at which they live their lives--and read their books. Later this morning (like, after I've gone to bed and slept) pics of the new counter/frit storage for the retail space at Siyeh Glass Retail Center!


ren said...

yep. i know what you mean. my problem is that reading is like...a buffet for me. if i have something salty, i immediately want something i crack open another book. having four or five...or six or seven...going at any one time means i can have a little of everything. and when i hop from something like a crappy vampire novel to a philosophical story about an indian of a lower caste...i can actually feel my brain pop. heh.

Bill said...

And you just found this out?

I've been reading multiple books at a time for years, now. If you followed my LiveJournal blog, you'd see how many books I finish because of that habit.

Good reading!

Dee said...

these days i have a book to listen to while working thanks to getting hooked on audio books, one that i read at lunch/bedtime and sometimes 2 that i'm reading...

Geri Omohundro said...

I've been listening to audio books the last few months and it's dramatically improved my ability to stay on task. With music or the tv on in the background, I'll work on that nth project for about 20 minutes, then go get a snack, walk the dogs, start a load of laundry, throw a stick on the fire (yeah it got cold here already).... but with an audio book going, I can work for about 2 hours before I get distracted. Hmmm, might be a good diet plan? Then there's always a couple of books going, one by the couch and one on my nightstand. Kinda splits my brain in half sometimes tho.