Reading and Lingering

When I was little, I was a binge reader. If I found a book I liked, I'd read everything of its sort I could find. That's why I spent a few months at age seven reading a 50-book collection of folktales. That's why I read something like 20 Jules Verne books the following year. The faux-science bored me to tears, but I pushed through. This tendency persisted into my teenage years. Every time I liked a book, I would go on to read more and more titles from that author. It was not always the best decision either. If someone could give me back the time high school Claudia spent reading that 5th and 6th Kundera novel, I'd invest it in...I don't know, but it would be something a lot less repetitive.

With all of these books - not just the tales, the Jules Verne, the Kundera, but most of what I've read in my life - I rarely, if ever, felt the need to reread. Like most fast readers, I would occasionally worry that I'm not reading well, that there is a proper way to read, which includes deep thinking about every sentence and naturally takes forever. But if there was, I simply didn't have it in me. I did think about what I read while I read it, but my thoughts were as fast-flowing as my reading and only a few of them lingered after the reading. Sometimes after finishing a book that had been thought provoking, I'd feel guilty for wanting to read another book immediately, so I imposed to myself a "mourning" period, in which to Really Think about the book I had just read. The longest time I mourned a book by thinking about it was probably a full day, most of which was comprised of watching TV. There was no turning me into a more grounded reader.

The last couple of years something changed. I now read fewer books, significantly fewer books, but spend a lot of time thinking about them and returning to them. It feels weird and it's, I'm afraid, not terribly fit for blogging. I'm pulled between reading new things and lingering almost obsessively over the stuff I already read. I still have things to say about Daniel Deronda. I haven't yet properly reviewed Ulysses, but I spent a lot of time thinking about it this summer and, more recently, circling an unfinished post about it. The other day, I discovered a quote I remembered liking in Wolf Hall was historically inaccurate. I feel like writing analyses of Eminent Victorians. And so on, the list grows.

I'm still trying to come to terms with this new way of reading. My reading speed is the same, it's just the lingering on a book after I'm done with it that's new. And since grass is always greener on the other side, especially after you jumped the fence, I wish I could go back to being a fast, untroubled reader.

Why am I telling you all this? As a partial excuse for the lack of blogging lately, but mostly as a warning that I might continue to talk about the same set of books for a long, long time. I have hopes that the Literary Others reading event will add some new books to my lingering pile next month. But if not, Ulysses, here I come!


  1. I tend to get obsessed with certain books too. There was a time in my life when all I read was Sherlock Holmes and I dared anyone to convince me there was something better out there (which there was, obviously). Recently it happened with Australian author Kate Morton.

  2. I have the same tendency lately. And that's why kept reducing my target in goodreads challenge, LOL! But I think I like it now, because I can take a lot of the book (especailly classics) than when I read it fast-pace.

    1. Oh yes, it's a nice feeling in a way. I do feel like I am taking away more stuff than before. I'm afraid I don't have the guts yet to actually cull down my ambitious readings lists. But if this continues, I may have to.