Saturday, January 16, 2016

Reading Again. Book #1

There are a lot of readers in my World of Warcraft guild. And quite a few articles have been printed in the last days of 2015 and the first days of 2016 about reading.

There's this article on how to read more books. The take away from the short list is that I can and should stop reading a book I don't enjoy. I can tell you exactly how many times I've done that. Twice. Period. I have slogged through stuff I really wish I hadn't because, well, I bought the blasted thing. It's wasted money otherwise.

Not all recommended books are going to be to my taste. I need to not feel pangs of guilt for disliking some author's writing. My lord. I can't stand Thomas Hardy or, dare I say it, Jane Austin. I suffered through those because my BA in English required it. Unless I'm taking a literature course, my reading is for me, and if Jane Smiley or Thomas Pynchon do not interest me, regardless of the pennies spent on their tomes, I need to let the book go. Perhaps I can leave it in the waiting room of the lab the next time I go see the vampires for my RA blood tests.

In this article,, I first encountered the "don't finish what you start" idea. I also encountered the comment that reading fiction teaches you to be a better person. Admittedly, I don't read a lot of fiction. Oh I have a lot of fiction on the shelves, but I don't read it. I don't know if science fiction is what they are driving at here. I'm thinking straight up pretending based on current times is what they mean. Maybe they lump the pretend worlds into the fiction category, but I'm leaning toward the category embracing the new books by Joyce Carol Oates and Danielle Steele, set on terra firma and not in the stars.

I think to the fiction I have read and it's mostly from my days matriculating at Viterbo. Perhaps I should haul out a list of Dickens. Somewhere in the basement, swims Moby Dick. I enjoyed reading that when it wasn't for class. Perhaps I would be more empathetic if I read more fiction, but my goal this year isn't a wide variety of book genres. My goal is simple. Read every Discworld book, in order.

Pratchett, who died March 12th of last year, wrote 41 Discworld books from the beginning, The Colour of Magic to the final The Shepherd's Crown. I've probably read a dozen of them. The downstairs bookshelves contain my collection.

I've long wanted to read them all. They are like old friends who you visit once in a very great while. When we got to discussing books in guild chat and on our Facebook page, a voice inside my head said, "Why are you hesitating reading all of them?" I could throw up flimsy excuses mainly centered on time, but, going back to the very first Vox post on reading, I have the next books lined up.  I think I have the first 8 books. I'm not waiting on an order. A paperback can always be carried somewhere. I can go back to the bigger purse for those times when I know I will have to sit and wait. I don't really have an excuse, other than lethargy and inaction.

Last weekend, I strolled up to my stash and picked out the first 5 Discworld books. I gave them bookmarks and stacked them on the ottoman in the living room, on top of a burgeoning stack of magazines calling, seductively, "Read us first before you start the books. You know you want to." I hesitated. But the siren call of Discworld was louder and I'm rearranging the ottoman so the books are more important than the magazines. I've decided that, as I finish a Discworld book, it goes onto the shelves in the office and I critically look at what I have stored there. I need to be surrounded by things I love and although I love books, those I really won't ever open again need to go into a give away box. Then, the next book in the series can be brought up from the basement or ordered from The Bookstore. This way, if I need something 5 books ahead, I have it.

The other part of the equation is that Pratchett is so easily quotable. If I like a book enough to review it, I want to have quotes at the ready. Because it can take me more than a few days to get to a review, my head has been filled with other things and, oh dear, where was that one quote. I'd end up rereading again. I found my small post its, the rectangular ones with a side stick. I can easily, as I'm reading, mark the passage I found interesting for comment later on. This has been wonderful.

I've started a list of quotes, too; book, page and quote. I had one a long time ago, but it's been lost. Pratchett was able to coin a phrase for a great many of life's situations. I want to be able to find the right quote for the right situation. Not sure how I'll cross-reference the quotes, but this will be a start. Just start, Deb, just start. There is the meme, "Every journey starts with one small step". Collect the quotes first. Then decide how you want to organize them.

Finally, I joined the web site, Good Reads. I don't like that it pushes Amazon as your source for books, but, beyond that, it's okay. I've added a few books I've read and I can see what some of my friends are reading right now and they will be able to see my progress through this goal. There was much hesitation about sharing this. It's kind of like a resolution. (Raises hand. Intones solemnly.) I do hereby resolve, in the year 2016, to read all Discworld books in order. What happens if life intrudes? Indeed, I have a craft project I need to start work on. It won't take very long but I need to collect the pieces and get it done. It has to be done by June. That's going to impinge on my reading time. Read a bit. Craft a bit. It will work as Discworld books can be read in 3-5 sittings of 90 minutes each. But I must give myself permission to get as far as I can and not sweat that I didn't finish this. So, let's not call it a resolution, doomed to failure, but a desire to try to accomplish this task.

I picked up the first volume and cracked it open on Tuesday. Finished it this morning.

You can read my mini-review here. (books. Deeper reviews of the other books will follow. This is to get started.

Why is Pratchett so beloved? From the Foreword, "You can't map a sense of humor." I think, in a nutshell, that sentence encapsulates why readers flocked to him. On the surface, a story about a has-been wizard, ("...he was, he would be the first to admit, a coward, an incompetent, and not even very good at being a failure..." [pages 173-174]), a tourist from a far-off land, and that man's walking luggage; roaming about a land which was a disc, carried by 4 elephants who stood on the back of a turtle swimming through space, would be anything more than head-scratchingly weird. But Pratchett tapped in the funny ("I've seen excitement and I've seen boredom. Boredom is best." [Page 176]) and the poignant. ("Fate can be one mean god at times." [Page 190])

Perhaps he didn't know the books would take off as they did. Perhaps it didn't matter. He would have written them to be shared around winter fires when the latest Tom Clancy didn't please. Whatever the case, I have 40 books to get through. I'll hope you'll check in to see how I'm doing.

Beverage:  hot cocoa


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