Sunday, April 5, 2020

The Great Unread Books Fail

Be honest; did you not at least think about reading all of the books you may have waiting unread on your shelves during this time of sheltering at home? Did you have BIG PLANS to systematically read them, maybe in order of acquisition, or alphabetically by author's last name, or by some other extrinsic method of ranking order?

Yeah, me too, until confronted with the actual reading part. Here are my first four attempts. I began with the most recently purchased; Colson Whitehead's "The Underground Railroad", it is, after all, a work of fiction, so how hard could it be to get through? While compelling, it is, like "Crime and Punishment", distinctly unnerving to a soul already troubled by current times. The cruelties of slavery are so precisely depicted that my heart hurts reading it. Likewise, the world described in "Crime and Punishment" is one of such abject desperation and depravation that I barely lasted three chapters. Besides, it is a nasty, small paperback form that does not invite an enjoyable read.

They have both been moved from "nightstand fiction" to "during daylight hours, once I've read the non-fiction selections". Chomsky is an excellent read, but not at all reassuring either. Nevertheless, I've picked up where I left off, seven or eight years ago, and once in awhile, I am reading a few pages. As to SPQR, I bought it for a child, for whom it was much too dry and academic. I picked it up, read for a bit, and then, like now, allowed myself to be distracted by something easier, brighter, more fun. Today, it is back to an old favorite; "Eats, Shoots and Leaves," by a fellow lover-of-punctuation; Lynne Truss. I'll tackle one of the others tomorrow. Happy quarantine reading.

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