Wednesday, January 26, 2011

But you're just reading...

I've noticed that my family doesn't "get" me when I'm reading. They see me sitting there, apparently doing nothing, book in hand. Clearly, it's okay for them to have a conversation with me, ask me to run an errand, or otherwise ensure that I'm gainfully employed instead of just sitting there wasting my life. After all, I'm just reading.
I get infuriated with the just reading thing. For me, there is no just about it. Believe it or not, even (sometimes especially) working in a bookstore doesn't afford me more time to read. It just gives me a better idea of just how many books are out there that I want to open, but can't just yet- no time, no money, no brain power. So, when I actually do sit down with a book in hand, I can hardly describe the sense of luxury and pampering that comes with it. The sense of anticipation of opening a new book by an author that you know you like, the faint sense of trepidation (did I make a wrong choice? Am I wasting precious reading time?) when you venture into a new author or type of book, the sorrow when a good book comes to an end- I revel in it all. I am not just reading, I am finally getting to do one of my very favorite things. So don't ask me to set the table. I don't feel like talking about your day. And I don't need to go shopping for vacuum cleaner bags, thank you very much.
Now, my husband, after more than six years of marriage, has finally not learned to be jealous of my books. And I have learned to set a time limit on reading. I actually do care about his day, so I'll ask for "the end of the chapter" or "fifteen more pages" or whatever else I can get away with, and then return to the regularly scheduled programming of my life. Or get everything else out of the way, knowing that sometimes there will be time by the end of the day for my own time.

But if you've ever been there, wondering why people can't just leave you alone when you're reading, this is for you.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Back to School: Adventures of an English Major in Drama

Winter break has come and gone much too quickly for my tastes, and again I am back in the vice-like grip of my education. Homework began pouring in before I had even been to all of my classes once, and as an English major this only means excessive amounts of reading. As a bibliophile, excessive amounts of reading is supposed to be good, right? Well, in order to understand, imagine you really like chocolate a lot (I'm sure you do.) You love eating chocolate and do so on a daily basis. Now, through some bizarre twist of events, you are told that you must eat a minimum of three pounds of chocolate a day. You will not get to pick which chocolates you eat. Every day you will go to a special place to receive the chocolate, spend a few hours there talking about chocolate, then go home and eat all of it. Sometimes the chocolate will be delicious, sometimes it will be filled with that weird gooey stuff which isn't good at all. Either way, you will eat all of it or suffer the consequences. How much do you like chocolate now?

Well, if you're like me, you still like chocolate (or... books) very much. Even being forced to read can't take away my love of reading, but it can make it more than a bit tiresome. Especially since I have a tendency to unintentionally register for only one type of literature class at a time. Those of you who have been following my posts know that last semester I read nothing but adolescent books from August until early December. This semester is the next installment in Kelsey's "What the Hell Was I Thinking?!" registration story. I'm taking Shakespeare II (the second half of Shakespeare's work) and Modern British and European Drama at the moment. This means from now until May I will read almost exclusively plays written on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean.

From first glance, this will undoubtedly drive me crazy. I will very likely begin to think in terms of dialogue only, setting the scenes everywhere I go in italicized descriptions in my head. On the other hand, though, I can already tell that this will be an interesting combination. While I learn about the difficulties Shakespeare faced in bringing theater to 17th Century England, I am also learning about the censorship playwrights dealt with hundreds of years later. While trying to understand Shakespeare's complex and often outdated language, I will also struggle with the nonsensical lines of Beckett's characters in Waiting for Godot.

I'll be sure to keep you updated on my struggles and triumphs as the semester sails along. So far, Measure for Measure (by Shakespeare) and Major Barbara (by George Bernard Shaw) are the first on the chopping block. So far so good, but we've only just begun...

Thursday, January 13, 2011

"I Solemnly Swear I am Up to No Good"

New years always bring with them lists, goals, resolutions, and great springs of optimism. At least, that seems to be the case for most people. I for one stopped making strict resolutions years ago, but I still indulge in writing up long lists of things I'd like to do or change throughout the year. Sometimes I put a good dent in these lists before they end up buried under a pile of mail (and of course 'Keep the Coffeetable Tidy' is always on the list somewhere), to be unearthed later like flowers popping up through snow. There are a few things on my lists that I never forget about though, and those are my reading goals.

Each year I set a goal of how many books I'd like to read, as well as a few select books I'd really like to finally get through. This year I'm hoping to read three books a month, for a grand total of 36. I'm confident I can meet this goal (and I had better now that I've posted it out where all the world can see). Then again, I usually meet my quota of books. It is the selected reading I never seem to get to. But this year will be different. This year I am finally going to dig in and read the Russians. I've been meaning to for ages, and this is the year. I can feel it. Call it destiny. 2011 will be the year I finally finish Anna Karenina.

But what about you? What books have you been meaning to get to and keep putting off? Do you set goals for yourself in regards to your reading? A lot of us here at the store resolved to start Goodreads accounts and to keep up with them. I for one would like to write more book reviews to share with all of you. So share your goals with us, and lets make them happen. After all, it's only 2011 once.

- t