Monday, March 19, 2012

The Supplemental Reading List Wrap-up

The grinding halt. It was not exactly so overt. Rather, the grinding halt happened when I stopped looking. I barely felt the lurch, the stop—grinding or otherwise.
It happened some time after the supplemental reading list surfaced and I have little or no reason for what happened.
In the years I have been a reader, I've noticed a few things about myself. First, I'm a bit of a binge reader. During a binge, I will read at least a novel a day. I can keep that pace for long spans of time. Case in point: I wanted to read a novel a day in 1998. 1998 was my first year out of college. I traveled for most of the year bouncing between Denver, San Francisco, Mexico City and Lisbon. The novel a day pace slowed by year's end. I read 198 books. Needless to say, a duration like that tends to make one weird, and as I recall, 'weird' would be a nice way to describe my 1998 state of mind.

Second, in the non-binge times I will still read, but it's labored. The non-binge times reading becomes pretty low on my priorities. The non-binge times are generally marked with external circumstances. Work (and this is both writing and paycheck collecting activities) generally set the energy levels. Although, I must admit during times of prolific writing, the reading list still stays closer.
Third, when reading becomes labored, I revert to small novels, novellas or even novellettes. These shorter works will occasionally produce trouble to my reading mind despite shorter lengths. And it's been my experience that short novels are sometimes more difficult to read.
The last thing I've noticed about my reading habits is simply this: no matter how much I read, I always feel like I should read more.
I strayed from the supplemental reading list. I strayed because I had a few tough times trying to stay focused. I chose short novels. Here they are:

Ishiguro, Kazuo. An Artist of the Floating World. Vintage International: New York, 1989.
Rilke, Rainer Maria. Letters to a Young Poet. New World Library: California, 2000.
Polidori, John. The Vampyre. 1819.
Cross, Shauna. Whip It. Square Fish: New York, 2007.
de Saint Exupery, Antoine. The Little Prince. Harvest: New York, 1971.
Semaines de Suzanne. various authors. Alycamps Press: Paris, 1997.

All short works. They're all the normal books I might read. Whip It was an odd one for me. It is not chick-lit (hate that phrase), not young adult, and not memoir. But man, is it a great book. Really fun to read and wrought with conflict.
I've attempted to read The Little Prince at least 50 times over the years and just couldn't do it. It finally happened. It is worth the read. Incidentally, this book was James Dean's favorite.
I've also meant to read The Vampyre for years.
When a writer reads, it's work. It's not labored, not the act anyway. It's work because it's sentence deconstruction, character and plot analysis, it's learning the devices and their applications. Reading is still fun for me and it is still work and it still consumes hours.
Writers who don't read frighten me. Believe it or not, there are many non-reading writers out there. I can always pick out a reader from a non-reader when I read Umbrella Factory Magazine submissions.
I also know there are readers out there who are not writers. Readers, as far as I know, are the most angelic of people.
Readers are angels.

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