Enjoying Books, Despite College

by littlesarahbigworld

I love to read, I work at a library, I am a member of two different book groups, and yet I really haven’t read that much in my life. There are two reasons for this:

1 – Although I read often, daily, I take longer than most to finish a book. I am a Slow Reader, meaning that I can’t read much faster than talking speed, or else it feels frantic. I didn’t even know this until late in college, when I was reading an article with my boyfriend, and he kept finishing each page twice as fast as I did. Adversity.

2 – Also, I was an English major in college, and They totally tried to suck all the fun out of reading and make me feel like an idiot for not automatically noticing major themes of oppression and sexuality (or whatever). All of a sudden, book talk was less “I really like this character, because she reminds me of my friend…” and more “Furthermore, by placing a comma–rather than a period–here, Famous Poet is imploring us to pause, but not to stop…” etc.

I would want to read, but then I’d think about how if I was going  to read, then it really ought to be something for school, but of course I didn’t want to read stuff for school, and then I wound up just not reading.


Phase I: I started keeping a little paper log of all the books I read (even the ones for school–motivation!), and it was so, so pleasing to see my little literature list grow, so satisfying, and then to be able to look back and remember what I was reading, and when, and where I was sitting as I finished the book. A book club of one, and it was good.

Phase II: But I wanted to remember more about each book, so I started dog-earring pages with quotes or passages that I particularly enjoyed–insights, humor, metaphors, etc. (I’ve since switched to tearing off little pieces of paper to mark these pages, because maybe some people don’t appreciate me returning their books all dog-eared). Then, when I’m done with the book, I sit down and copy my favorite bits into my journal:

Phase III: Phase three is where I start a blog and decide that the minutiae of my daily life is interesting to anyone other than myself. So now I post my favorite quotes and hope that they’ll spark discussion, THOUGH THEY ALMOST NEVER DO.

from What is the What by Dave Eggers (a biography of Valentino Achak Deng)

“I lost someone very close to me and afterward I believed I could have saved him had I been a better friend to him. But everyone disappears, no matter who loves them.”

“This boy thinks I am not of his species, that I am some other kind of creature, one that can be crushed under the weight of a phone book…The pain is not great, but the symbolism is disagreeable.”

“But I loved when she wore [her glasses], and wanted her to wear them more often. She was less glamorous in those enormous frames, and when she had them on, it seemed more plausible that she was truly mine.”

“Without William K, I would have forgotten that I had not been born on this journey. That I had lived before this. Without William K, I could have imagined myself born here in the tall grasses, paths broken by the boys before me, that I had never had a family, had never had a home, had never slept under a roof, had never eaten enough warm food to fill my stomach, had never fallen asleep knowing what could and could not happen when the sun rose again.”

“It was me, Achak Deng. Successful with ladies.”

“One moment I could feel Jor’s breath on my neck, and the next I could smell the animal, its dark-smelling sweat. I turned and saw Jor limp, dead in its jaws. The lion was looking directly at me, emotionless, and we stared at each other for days and nights. Then he turned and left with Jor.”

“On the day of the visit, the camp had never looked so beautiful. I was proud. I can remember the feeling still; we were capable of this, the creation of a life from nothing.”

“We thought we were young and that there would be time to love well sometime in the future. This is a terrible way to think. It is no way to live, to wait to love.”

“Each exhalation was a falling tree and my mind went mad with the noise of it all, but I deserved the turmoil. I deserved nothing better. I wanted to be alone with my stupidity, which I cursed in three languages and with all my spleen.”

“Though I tried to disguise it, I slowed our pace as we walked. I wanted so badly to make the evening last. It was a lovely night, the air warm, the wind civilized.”

Also, I have an account with GoodReads, but I’m not sure that counts as a Phase, since it’s less something I sought out to make my reading experience more interactive and more something that my coworker suggested I do so that I can remember and easily call up all the books I’ve read when a library patron wants a recommend. Plus it allows me to spend that much more work-time sitting in front of a computer.

QUESTION: is it worth linking to my GoodReads from this blog? You know, in my blogroll.