This week I came across an excellent long read written by Craig Mod and bearing the superb title, Stab a Book, the Book Won’t Die: On the resilience of books in the face of apps, attention monsters, and an ad-driven online economy.
In this entertainingly comprehensive examination of why books still exist, Craig quotes Philip Roth, speaking in 2009:
To read a novel requires a certain amount of concentration, focus, devotion to the reading. If you read a novel in more than two weeks you don’t read the novel really.
As someone currently pootling through Jane Eyre, this struck a chord with me. Two weeks? I’m currently on Week 5 and I still have fifty pages to go.
I do see what he means, though. The faster you read a book, the more ‘into it’ you become, and the more, perhaps, you get out of it. Certainly, a little more speed might make it easier for me to recall beside which hearth poor Jane is once again warming her ice-crusted fingers…
Reading 20-30 pages a day would be enough to get through most books in a fortnight. That seems doable – surely I could find 25 to 35 minutes for reading in a day?
In 2019 so far, I have finished eight novels at an average reading speed of 18 days per book. Six of them I finished inside Roth’s two week deadline, but three (if we also include Miss Eyre) took me more than five weeks each.
Dear reader, you are my witness to a solemn vow: I shall add to my evening bedtime reading a morning session. What better way to start the day than with ten pages of invigorating fiction?
The Pick of My Summer/Autumn Reading
- A Passage to India (1924, fiction) by EM Forster. A splendid novel that dances wittily around the social politics of British rule in India, before exploding in your face. A Passage to India frequently makes ‘all-time best novel’ lists and I can make no accusation of false advertising.
- Bitter Lemons (1957, non-fiction) by Lawrence Durrell. An autobiographical account of the three years (1953-1956) Durrell spent on Cyprus, as British rule disintegrated. A wise companion for any journey east; alternatively, ideal for those seeking literary sunshine during our dull northern winter.
My Current Autumn/Winter Reading…
- Jane Eyre (1847, fiction) by Charlotte Brontë.
- Underlands (2019, non-fiction) by Robert MacFarlane – a gift, thanks T.
- Neurotransmissions: Essays on Psychedelics from Breaking Convention (2015, non-fiction) – also a gift, thanks B.
What have you been reading – anything good? Share with us!
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