Between January and May this year I read sixteen books. That’s a lot for me. I spent entire evenings reading after dinner. I read a book in a single day, something I haven’t done I think since like high school.(2) I read books with the rate and passion I normally reserve for Christmas and for going to get ice cream.
Since the beginning of May, though…well, I’ve eaten a lot of ice cream. I’ve started-and-not-finished four different books. One of them twice. And I know the problem: I’ve been resisting.
As the average daily outside temperature goes up, so does my inclination to read the more difficult novels. The prevalence of beach- and summer-reading lists lead me to believe that this is pretty much the opposite of what most people do. But for a long time, both in high school and college, I was too busy during the regular semesters to read harder books. During the summer there was always plenty of time, as long as I kept the ice-cream runs to a minimum. Or found ice-cream stands that didn’t take long to get to.
My resistance this year is a little more specific. You see, most of what I’ve read so far has been books by authors new to me. John Green. I read The Hunger Games trilogy. A Game of Thrones. I also tackled two Thomas Pynchon books, and usually I can only take one of those per annum at best.
Now that it’s warm, though, I want to return to an old friend. I’m caught between that and an urge to carry on meeting new people. And I’ve tried. But I’ve failed.
Because all I really want to read is David Foster Wallace. I’ve read Infinite Jest every summer since 2007 and now it seems it’s just as much a part of my summer as peanut-butter-cup blizzards. Just as Christmas isn’t Christmas without the noise and clamor that is Trans-Siberian Orchestra, so summer, it seems, isn’t summer without the prolixity and insight that is Infinite Jest.
So today I’m giving in. Here now begins my sixth reading of a 981 page, well-worn, well-loved, book.(3)
- Probably could have gone without saying that I’d decided to take li’l break from social media for a while. This sort-of ‘always-on’ mentality these days refers not just to our devices but to our lives, as though social media allows every aspect of our lives to be constantly broadcast. Or at least those pieces we choose to broadcast. And sometimes it just freaks me out. A lot. Since participation in social media it completely at-will, sometimes I choose not to participate for a bit, until the batwings of paranoia once again settle themselves down. NB: I still really hate Facebook, but I do miss the connection it provides with various family members. So I’ve returned there as well. Though I still really hate it. Just to be clear.
- No wait. I once read all of J.D. Salinger’s books in a weekend. That would have been sometime in June, 2007. So still. Five years.
- Plus about 100 pages of end-notes.