I like to read and always have, I’m just bad at sticking with it. I’ll catch a groove, mow through a book or two and then get busy with other stuff and not read for a month or two. At my worst I’ve read only one book in an entire year which actually sickens me a little. Years ago in an attempt to stay with it and be one of those people who read a lot I downloaded Goodreads. I’ve found it to be particularly useful in the bookstore for scanning barcodes and keeping a list of books I want to read and easily being able to find them later. Then there’s something about entering what page I’m on in whatever book I’m reading at the time in the app and seeing that little progress bar move that is stupidly satisfying. As if holding the book itself and seeing the scrap of paper I’m using as a bookmark gradually move from front to back while simultaneously feeding my head isn’t enough. When I get near the end of any book, good or bad I have to force myself to stop and eat or feel Sherry’s annoyed glare while I read at the dinner table.
Then there’s the reading challenge part of the app where you can set your own goal as to how many books you plan to read in a year and compare yourself to all the people who read much more than you thus making you feel inferior and ignorant which is always a great motivator. In 2017 I made it through a whopping two of an attempted 12 books for a total of 752 pages. First was Beautiful You by Chuck Palahniuk which is probably my least favorite of his books that I’ve read and second was The Circle by Dave Eggers. Good book, painfully stupid movie. This year I’m attempting 24 books. Crazy I know but my friend Peter enlightened me and got me to thinking about the exercise of reading in a different way. 24 books seems daunting to me but 50 pages a day is totally doable. Ten pages here, 20 there, 50 pages a day seems like it should be no problem. That and with books being different lengths some will be quicker than others. I don’t know how many 50 pages a day will equal but it has to be at least 24, I hope. Maybe I’ll choose books based on weight moving forward (I won’t).
So far this year I’ve read 13 Reasons Why by Jay Ahser mostly because my daughter was all into the TV show and there was a letter sent home from her school because of it’s controversial nature. I made her read it too although I had to force myself to finish it and kind of hated it. Next I read Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury which I had read in high school in the mid 80s and found I didn’t really remember it much at all having picked it up and absorbed it again. It was like reading it for the first time and discovering it all over again. The design nerd in me was also drawn in by the book design and cover stock choice. I sometimes just hold the book and smell it. Then about halfway through my third book Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep by Philip K. Dick I started this new 50 pages a day approach to reading. Most people know this as the book that inspired the Blade Runner films of which I’ve seen the original movie a few times, the directors cut maybe twice and the new movie once but I’d never read the book. After watching the new movie I decided it was finally time to get around to reading the original concept and made an impulse buy when I saw it on an end-cap at Target when the second movie was released. Now having read it I don’t like the movie(s) any less as it’s all I’ve ever really known about the story but now that I’ve read it, I enjoy the story the book tells much more which isn’t really that unusual I suppose. I can’t think of any movie based on a book where I’ve come away thinking the movie was better than my own imagination. For example I don’t particularly like that I couldn’t imagine Rick Deckard not looking like Harrison Ford. I could go on and on based on what I know now but this post isn’t intended to be a book review or critical analysis of any kind.
So now I’m on to A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess which puts me in the same position. I’ve seen the film a number of times and absolutely love it but I’ve never read the book until now. Of course I can only imagine Alex looking like Malcom McDowell no matter how hard I try but I doubt it will detract from what I take away from the book.
My daughter doesn’t like to read while my boy can get into a book and whip through it pretty fast without complaint. He read the whole Maze Runner series in a hurry so he had the book in his head before he saw the last movie. I’d suggested he do that so he had his own version of the story in his imagination before it was prescribed to him via Hollywood magic. We first had the discussion about movies based on books and why you should read the book first if you can after I had quickly read The Martian by Andy Weir before he and I went to see the movie which as you would guess was somewhat divergent from the book. I explained to him the differences after the viewing and then he attempted to read it but he was like 9 years old at the time so it was a bit over his head and boring for him after having the visuals fed to him in the theatre.
Sherry had suggested to the girl that she read 30 pages a day a few months ago but I think she took it as 30 pages in one sitting and still made shit-sandwich face at the thought of actually reading a book. I’d been asking them to read 20 minutes a day but have now encouraged them to read 40 pages a day rather than read for a specified length of time explaining that they can break the length of time they read into something more manageable for their shortened attention spans and that seems to have helped. The girl is into her second book for the year and has discovered that she can actually find books she likes with a little help. The boy is into his 5th book, Ready Player One by Ernest Cline. I read it maybe a year ago and suggested he get the story in his head before we go bear witness to Steven Spielberg’s imagining of it on the big screen when it’s released at the end of the month. He just started reading it yesterday, he’s going to have to haul ass.