29 diciembre 2012

So, Reading Lists... Don't bother planning?

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When was the last time you planned a READING list?

             WHEN was the LAST TIME you actually… 

                       …FOLLOWED it?!
by D. Morgan.-
there's a moment of realisation in everyone's "holiday" period when, once the Christmas & New Year's Eve fever has worn out, a rather empty feeling makes us stop and think our vacation would be fruitless unless we turned to fiction for a little while, even if it be a very short while. If you're the type who's arching an eye-brow with "Let's be realistic here—who wants to read during their holiday?", just turn over a new leaf and stop reading. Dot.

For those whose savings have remained virtually unharmed despite peak-time expenses and inflation—not my humble case!—, the chance of casually heading for the nearest book fair or store and running for that awfully deceiving corner signalling "SALES" has come. WARNING: Be aware of friendly-looking sale-signs! Most of what you'll find while delving into books tagged "for sale" is either porn lit or bullshit—which, hopefully for a few, will come to read as pretty much the same thing.
Choosing what 2 read in the midst of a (summer?) holiday can be utterly stressful! Here: how 2 GO 4 WHAT U NEED without spending ur heart!
That being said, cheers to the lucky ones who meet with an (ex) best-seller, a classic or any tolerably good item in the sales bucket. (Anything that's worth your while will often not be there, but if the opposite happens, your book may become a 'real find', either because it is an out-of-print or simply a long-lost jewel. Heard of a friend just recently, in the middle of my writing this article, who's bumped into the best translation into Spanish of James Joyce's Ulyses. The discovery took place at a local book fair, where prices were also quite the find.) 

But, if you don't feel like taking the trouble of crossing the borders of time-consuming book fairs or making your way through thick crowds of shoppers, you can always turn to your own home library for a change. Who ever will admit to not having one? From what I hear, all my readers do, thank God. And now's best the time for coming face to face with your little home treasures, now's the time for cutting back on new books and leafing through the good old pages of our youth. Forget all about mingling with long-standing queuers at bookstores, and come to revisit your own books. You might casually seize that novel you've been putting off during your working period, or simply revisit your favourite ones. Even if what you're checking are not exactly your own books, you might still borrow one or two from your siblings' shelves, or your next-room neighbour's, or your closest friend's. Going through a relaxed, return-policy exchange with a trustworthy pal can be at all times enriching; then you can add another shared experience to your friendship list. 

*READING WHAT YOU KNOW, KNOWING WHAT YOU LIKE: Forget all about the snobbish recommendations you put up with at your last party. When you come across an old favourite at home, why not turn it into your first choice for your holiday? 

I know, it's a mixed blessing, going for what you already know. Some will say you're not widening your horizons but reading the same book all over again, and others will go for just the opposite thing, like when you take up a book you've read before it feels like a whole new experience, because time has passed both for you and your story. It can be a second chance for those books you used to loathe the mere sight of, or simply a pleasure-seeking adventure while reading your most precious story. For the latter purpose, I can think of numberless advantages of reading that one book which has *mark-twained* us once. To sum them up, reading a book you've already read will feel like:
  1. You can quit reading with the safe assurance that whenever you decide to come back to it, you won't need to refresh your memory by reading the previous page or skipping through the whole previous chapter. You can easily, confidently move on to what comes next.
  2. Switching channel and catching one of your favourite, perhaps old-fashioned film on TV: there will be scenes which your memory will have stored and you'll find yourself nodding knowingly at them, perhaps with a lack of surprise but with a great deal of amusement. But there will come those bits which will take you unawares, and those you'll enjoy too, precisely, because you had forgotten them.
  3. Making up with a long-lost mate. When a friend's true, no matter how little you see each other. Whenever you can sqeeze time for a cup of tea, or any other petty outing, you realise that in spite of all those years of long-held distance, deep inside the bond had never been broken.
  4. Returning home from a long journey. The "home sweet home" feeling supplied by the experience of reading a book you've read before won't be void of surprising turns, however. And perhaps the best advantage of all is that no one can come and spoil the end to you—no matter how faint a picture of it your mind holds, you can never forget the gist of a story you've enjoyed reading!

**READING ONLINE! For some people, reading on-line can be twice as broadening as picking manual books. E-texts will most of the times come with several links embedded within, which can be quite inspiring for those who have enough time for surfing the Web. But if you don't have all that time, you can simply skip the links, choosing to miss the XXL text behind the one you're reading. 
Since this article is aimed at fiction-readers mostly, I'd like to recommend a few sites which have aided me in past searches and still remain my favourite e-book resources
***THERE'S MORE THAN 1 BOOK I'D LIKE 2 RE-READ: What if you've bought books two, three or four months/years ago which you've still "haven't squeezed the time" for reading yet? Will you manage to read them all in a week, a month or two? 

No wonder, you're spoilt for choice. When it comes to prioritising, it's much more tempting to feel daunted by the huge amounts of things we want to undertake than wear the straight-forward and down-to-earth outfit. I've known people who will enrol on an intensive French course during their summer holiday while, at the same time, resuming their hectic gym routine, seeing their long-lost pals and reading, that among other petty schemes. After that, I doubt here is any minute to sit back and relax, and that's supposed to be a holiday...

Oh, right. Almost forgot, I can't blame them. The sort of people I'm quoting are nearly my type, one of a tirelessly growing breed, spurred on by the 21st-century hectic lifestyle of never-ending routine: hyperactive pseudo-intellectuals, spare-time spoilers? who, after becoming professionals in one field will only tick off and move on to conquer another. Where are we heading, what for? Only we know. Some, yes, will account for a mixed blessing, a clash of interests, an overlapping double (and even triple!) inborn talent for this and that, and also that. These are the sort of creatures whose sole wish for Christmas is a timeturner, and their one pipe dream has always been, as quoted, "I wish I were able to be at different places at the same time tomorrow" or "Dear Santa, turn me into a bird so that I can be early next time at X and Y." One can never trust these people when they say, "At six? Of course, I'll be ther on time."

The problem with lists is that unless you truly and honestly consider how much time you've got and plan accordingly—no more and no less—they can get frustratingly long and impossible to follow. For the few stubborn who'll insist on lists, my argument stays firm: don't bother making them; for those who could prove to have stuck to a reading list of over 5-10 books, I curtsey and start off a round of applause. But, honestly. Most of us will never get as many ticketed items as the ones we've blissfully borthered to list.

So, if you ask me, never mind lists. A reading plan can be counterproductive, particularly if you have little time and are the sort of reader who gets discouraged easily. Just as frustrating as not having a plan at all! Take up a risk sport, follow the one recipe you never dared try, join a Self Help Club, but don't bother trying a reading list. More often than not they result in failure. If you really want to read something, stick to one book, if you're a rather slow reader; two, if the books are 200-300 words and you're fast. Don't know which genre will suit your taste best? Never mind, give yourself a month to read a random book, see if you can read it in ten days, in twenty or can't finish it at all. Time will tell whether that's the sort of book for you or not. Of course, many would argue that timing depends on the book, on how gripping the plot gets and all. But habit makes the monk, and speed will eventually get standardised. Just like book sales◘ ◘  

2 comentarios:

  1. I agree with your final point. I do not devote time to making lists. When I want to take a chance on a book, I just go to my library and say: "Well, who's next?" And I see what I feel like reading at that moment: (re-read) a classic? something contemporary? a shallow best-seller? If there's nothing I can pick, I turn to the always effective Eenie Meenie. But not lists, thats just supermarket stuff.

    I saw some of the links, and found them really interesting - particulary Book-a-minute. Thanks a lot!!

  2. Book-a-minute is the last in hip. It's a big project, and really enjoyable. It's not aimed at those who just haven't read the classics they mimic, rather the opposite thing. If you've read Beowulf, e.g., you'll love the flash version of it! It's got the ingredients of a joke, but it's still literature... Aren't jokes, at some point, literature too?



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