Thursday, November 08, 2007

Meandering Read

I am very delighted to see some support for my somewhat style odd of reading - "another kind of reading, which should be a form of wandering, as in a garden." Necessity was the mother of invention in my case. I used to read the regular way until work-single parenting-life (what is that ?) imbalance squeezed out all the leisure time I once had. While I still craved to read , I lacked the time for it. I love Pierre Bayard's answer to the question about reading or skimming through Proust:

Are you saying you skimmed Proust? Yes, of course I did! I prefer to say that I live with Proust. He’s a companion. Sometimes I go to Proust and I seek advice for my life. I open it and I skim some pages. That is to live with books. It’s important to live with books.

Now I can skim more books even more voraciously and not feel any qualms about it. I would be indulging in the non-scientific, walk-in-the-park style of reading which I have believed to be the best course for everything except technical journals and cookbooks - the two genres I find the hardest to deal with.

There are books that are hard to like when reading from start to finish and yet I have an interest in finding out what it is about. As a work around I start at a random place read forward and backward to gate a sense of direction and context. Then, I may skip a hundred pages, find another spot that seems worth stopping at and do the same. This works particularly well at bookstores when I want to check out five books within a few hours.

Every once in a while after skimming random samplings of a book, I know I will have no peace until I have been from one end to the other. I will actually "read" this book. As I grow older, fewer and fewer books hold my attention or interest. I seem to have at once become a demanding and impatient reader. As a result, I can't devour long novels like I was once able to but on the upside, I have grown interested in a whole lot more than just a good story.

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