Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Reading Reflections: Sometimes Less is More

When the year first started, several fellow book bloggers (other people who blog primarily about books) made pacts and pledges to read deliberately. At the time I didn't really understand what that meant...I usually read what I want to read, and everything I end up reading, I wanted to read at some time.

Lately, I've barely been reading. The thing about book blogging is that it's an unpaid venture and you just never know when the reading blues will hit. It's impossible to plan for, and sadly what ends up happening is that books you thought you would review don't get read for awhile. In my case, there are a few triggers. If I have extensive work to do, and my mind is thinking about that work it will keep me from being able to lose myself in a book. The heat is also a deterrent, and I've had so many plans this summer as well that interrupt the flow. And sometimes I just want to visit a different mode of story-telling, like television. (Last week's episode of The Closer is one of the most emotional encounters I've had with story in quite awhile.)


This isn't a post about me complaining, rather I think what's happened is that my inner reader has finally said...ENOUGH. I adore book blogging but sometimes I feel it's a constant race to read the latest and greatest book. Books seem to have a life of barely a month before they become old in book blog land. We are constantly seeking the next great read, scouring online catalogs and fashioning wish lists based on what people tell us are the upcoming hot reads. The absolute worst of it comes to those of us who read many genres...we are desperate to keep up with them all.

I recently read essays on books like The Hunger Games and Twilight over at John Granger's site. It occurred to me that I hadn't thought of a great deal of what they were talking about. Sure I've read the books and had my fair share of Team Peeta/Team FailGale debate, but I've never examined the books quite as closely as this. I found myself loving these insights and realizing that sometimes less can truly be more.

I haven't read many books recently but I've entered into a deeper engagement with the books I've read. I've discussed them with others and given them a chance to sink in a little bit. Yes it means my TBR pile remains huge, but it also means I might finally be allowing books to take that role I want them to take and be vehicles through which I think, converse with others, and allow the human condition to make itself known a little more clearly. A book can be so much more than a few hours entertainment, it can be carefully and joyfully studied to illuminate meaning.

I know some of you can do both, but I can't. I can't read many books and also let those books play an active role in my life, I have to choose. And right now, the books are asking for more space and I'm giving it. Who knows? Soon I'm sure I'll be back to consuming as many books as I can quickly, but for right now, I'm going to enjoy the ride, take it easy, and remember there is value in all kinds of reading.


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