Tuesday, November 29, 2005

A Brit of Light Reading

I miss reading. I really do. Time was, I'd spend much more time with a book in my hand than with a video game controller. I used to spend my lunch breaks at school reading outside while pacing a slow square around the playground. Hell, much to the concern of my mother, I was known to walk down the side of the highway with my nose in a book on occasion (I'd just like to say that, for the record, I had an almost preternatural sense of things around me while I was reading, even if I wasn't consciously aware of everything). When I look at the shelves that ring my bedroom wall (set a couple of feet from the ceiling) and see all of the novels on them (I don't have an exact count, but, judging from previous counts of certain subsections, I'd estimate something in the 500 range), I am sometimes staggered by the volume that I somehow found time to read during my childhood. And yet these days I can count the number of books I've read in the last couple of years on one hand (with the admittedly notable exception of my re-read of the 19-volume epic, Star Wars: The New Jedi Order during my 6-month vacation from everything). And I think that I've suffered because of it.

My reading first really began to slow down during the later stages of high school, for various reasons that kept me quite busy, and it never really recovered. The irony is that one of the major reasons was the amount of time that I spent playing video games, which I credit for teaching me to read in the first place (in-game text and an early love affair with Nintendo Power magazine, which I still collect to this day without having missed a single issue). I generally blame this lack of reading for the stagnation of my vocabulary (my vocabulary hasn't really grown since late junior high, and may even have shrunk slightly, while everyone else's continued to grow), the lack of growth in my writing ability (again, same story-- no real improvement since junior high), and I sometimes wonder if it could have had some effect on my work/study ethic as well, which took a long slow turn for the worse between junior high and the end of my degree program.

Of course, all of this hasn't stopped me from buying books. Although I've shown remarkable restraint when compared with my anime and video game purchasing habits (I've pretty much sworn off Star Trek novels altogether, with a couple of exceptions), I still have a pile of some 30-odd books sitting in my closet in the Chapters bags that they came in. I can't imagine when I'll ever find time to read them all if I continue at my current pace, so I recently decided to do something about it.

I've always had two major impediments to reading, and addressing them is key if I'm to make in dent in my book pile. The first is that, like pretty much everything else that I enjoy, I like my books in marathon sessions, and I don't have the time for that these days. And when I say marathon sessions, I mean something on the order of 18 hours straight every day until it's done (with meal breaks), not the pussy few hours spent on the couch that some people call a marathon. This has become even more important in recent years, since, for reasons that I fear to explore, my memory is awful these days, and keeping a handle on myriad places, characters, and events necessitates constant exposure to the narrative and setting. The second problem is that I don't like people to know what I'm reading. I don't know why, and it doesn't matter what it is that I happen to be reading, I just don't want people to know.

Yesterday, however, I found a temporary solution to both problems. The one place that I do have free time that's not begging to be filled is during my breaks at work, so I brought a couple of books to work with me. Normally, two 15-minute and one 1-hour session a day wouldn't work for me, but, while it's still not ideal, the books in question lend themselves more to short bursts of activity than my usual fare. Also, they're both black hardcovers with removable jackets, so, after having left said jackets at home, they both make for impressively ponderous black tomes, free of identification (provided that I rest the spine on the palm of my hand), which is ideal.

As for the identity of the books in question, they are two Discworld novels, penned by Terry Pratchett. Discworld is a long series of variably connected novels in a persistent fantasy setting, falling into the subgenre that I like to call "British Humour" (which is pretty much like normal "Humour", except more clever/dry, and much funnier). Although his stories are often connected to the many other Discworld novels, they generally stand well enough on their own that I needn't concern myself with a forgotten face or two, and, since they're less serious than my usual fare, they better lend themselves to brief sessions. The only real problem I have left now is controlling my laughter at my desk.

[Note: I added a section to my sidebar today linking to various friends' blogs. This is in part to thank a couple of other people for similarly linking me, and also to prevent future conversations (I've had several to date) along the lines of "Timmy has a blog!? I didn't know that!" Enjoy the massive influx of surfers that a link from my site will generate. Think I'm joking? I presently link to Gamespot, Penny-Arcade, and Dinosaur Comics, and they all get huge traffic. QED.]


Anonymous Aiden Green said...

i've read 50 books so far this year. I hope to get 2 more done before the end of the year. So that will be 1 book a week on average.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005 2:42:00 PM  
Anonymous Kim said...

Discworld!!! *flails a bunch* I've just recently discovered it and fallen in love. I cannot stop recommending it to people. I love Rincewind. And since I don't get much time for reading it also lends itself well to my schedule.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005 10:09:00 PM  
Anonymous vern said...

I think everyone's reading's sagged since they were younger. Even now that I've got time, I'm not reading a whole lot.

Any arts program (well, I'm technically in science) has so much reading that the idea of mere reading for pleasure can be torturous.

Wednesday, November 30, 2005 5:26:00 AM  

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