“The covers of this book are too far apart.”–Ambrose Bierce

Have you ever been really enjoying a book, on the one hand, and on the other wondering how much longer it was going to go on?  It’s not quite the same as boredom with the thing (if it were that, you’d probably just put it down), yet you still find your self counting the pages, getting impatient with the author for not “gripping” you as you deserve, or perhaps deserting it temporarily for some shorter read which promises instant gratification.

This feeling I’m describing can oppose or strangely go along with the contrary feeling you get when finishing such a book (maybe even a book published in volumes), that you are sad to see it finally go, and that it’s been a world for you to live in which is now taken away from you until you have a chance to read the book again.  This is especially true of long reads like A Dance to the Music of Time by the British author Anthony Powell (a book which spans a major part of the main character’s long life in the 20th century, and is composed of twelve, yes twelve, well-respected volumes)–read it and laugh, don’t weep, because it’s very often a witty book.

It took me a year or more, reading a short number of pages each night at bedtime, to read all twelve volumes.  I often turned from it in frustration, to read a few pages or chapters of some mystery or fantasy or science fiction novel which made more modest claims in the literary world, but I conversely felt safe because I knew I had a world just waiting for me to come back to it and take it up again.  Such reads, sometimes resented in the reading, have later turned out to be some of my favorite books to share and discuss with others in retrospect.  So the next time you’re looking for that special book to take to the beach, or to fill a dull moment, don’t just grab the shortest and flimsiest reading experience you can find, assuming that it doesn’t matter.  Why not try developing a long-lasting relationship with a good, long, serious or humorous (or both) read that will carry you well into autumn if you read a little of it now and then?  You may be surprised to discover just how rewarding an experience this can be!  shadowoperator

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Filed under What is literature for?

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