Monday, September 23, 2013

On Not Reading

Getting back into the "reading for pleasure" mode has proven more difficult than I would have imagined. For one thing, I'm just so damned tired of reading. I want to be outside, to move, to create. Reading seems so physically stagnating right now. And also, so much of what I've been picking up lately just hasn't done it for me. I've stopped reading so many books in the last few weeks, and that's pretty unusual for me. Do I blame the books, or my above noted lack of interest in sitting still?

Books I've stopped reading lately:

Both Flesh and Not  by David Foster Wallace. The first essay in this collection is unbelievable. It's the title essay, about Roger Federer, and it's beautiful. But that was about the only thing in this book that I found myself remotely interested in. A lot of these essays are very early/young DFW, and he hasn't quite come into the literary champion we all know. Also, as a young man, he was WAY too dismissive of female writers. That's about the simplest thing you have to do to get me to stop reading.

The Last Animal  by Abby Geni. So, this one was an advance that I asked for because the promotional material mentioned a story about an ostrich farm in the Arizona desert.  And I thought, "Hey! I know that ostrich farm!" So I tried it. I read the ostrich story. And then the next story. And gave up on the third (which is incidentally the story that got her published). It's just not good. I feel pretty shitty saying that about something that someone obviously poured their heart into, but I take comfort in the fact that no one will read this.

New York Diaries  edited by Teresa Carpenter. I actually quite like this one. I started it as part of my New York reading experience. It's a lot of fun, but one of those books that's just easy to put down. It consists of diary entries spread across the years of 1609-2009. The entries are arranged in a semi-chronological order, following the days of the year. So for any given day you could have entries from 1845, 1912, and 1976, and then the next day, an entry from 1778 and 1943. The diarists range from the ordinary to the well known, like Teddy Roosevelt and Simone de Beauvoir. And the subject matter is about everything; the city, ordinary life, artistic endeavors. It's pretty great. I will finish this one, but it will be one that I read at an intentionally leisurely pace.

Side note: the stunning and sudden change in the weather has put a decided dampening on my need to be outside, which means I've finished 3 books in the last week. Reviews to follow, I suppose...