I've spent the weekend reading. I started Thursday night and so far have made it through 4 books, my favorite of which by far is Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes. The book won the Hugo Award and Nebula Award and I see why. Absolutely brilliant. Blair said he had to the read the book in high school but somehow it slipped under my reading radar and the only reason I picked it up is because our little local library happened to have it sitting out on a front shelf and the cover caught my attention.
I'm not reading as much as I used to. I've kept a list on the computer since 1994 of every book I've read. I tally up the totals at the end of the year and this year I'll finish around 62 books read, compared to last years total of 84. It's not the the numbers are so important--quality counts as well. But what bothers me is that being a voracious reader has always been a huge an indelible part of who I am, yet it's not something I do much of anymore. I'm lucky now to read one book every two weeks.
It's not that I don't read. I'm reading constantly--but it's research and magazine articles and the newspaper and online... all every different from curling up in a ball on the couch with a good book and getting lost for several hours.
I truly believe e-mail (among other things) has shortened my attention span. As I child and teenager, I could sit for 5-6 hours straight with a book and never look up. Now, when I start to read, I'm fidgety. I get up and make tea. I pet the cats. I throw in a load of laundry. I can't sit still and just read.
Or can I? I've avoided e-mail and the computer this weekend and my concentration appears to have rebounded. I started reading Flowers for Algernon this morning about 6:30 AM and finished it a little after 11. I got up once or twice and took a 30-minute break to shower, but for the most part, I sat still and read.
I think part of the problem is I'm always pushing myself to do more. I feel guilty reading a novel for pleasure when I have articles to write, or I should be working on my own novel, or I should be reading books on plot and character development. Plus, it's a stretch to say I even barely keep up with local, national and world news. There's never enough time to take in all the information.
But reading books is part of my job as a writer. It stimulates the mind and creativity, plus I learn from how others craft their pose. As I writer, I pay close attention to how other writers introduce their characters, use dialogue, transition a scene and build tension. For awhile, I couldn't read a book both for pleasure and to learn from it, but now it's second nature to be taking mental notes of "hey, look how she did that!" as I read.
So I'm placing "read more for pleasure" on my goals list for the New Year. The other good thing about getting lost in a book is it takes me away from the brain drain of TV.
Anyone have any book suggestions for me for the New Year??