I’m a slow reader. It’s one of the things my mom and I agree on. She regularly tears through novels in mere days, while I sometimes nibble on them for months on end. I distantly remember different times though; as a young boy, I would read anything I could get my hands on. And it was never enough. I don’t think that I read less precisely back then; I was always one to feast on words, re-reading sentences that I found particularly elegant until I could hear their melody ringing in my head. Perhaps it’s just that my appetite was bigger. Like I said, I wasn’t very selective. Nowadays, a story has to do far more work to get me to pick up speed.
Some wouldn’t consider that a bad thing. At least it’s a reliable indicator of quality, right? I don’t think so. Even when I really enjoy a book, even when I read a (relatively) large chunk in one session, an entire week might pass before I pick it up again. It doesn’t feel like I’m upholding standards. It feels like I’ve lost part of my capacity for interest. Maybe that’s because some of the mystery of language is gone? Like, I already know how to read? But no, that can’t be it. No way I’ve lost my love of that. There’s still endless depths when it comes to language. I know there’s so much one can do with it that I haven’t seen done yet, and I swear I hunger to explore it.
And whatever the cause for my perceived change in capacity, whether it even has any sort of palpable cause – I believe I can turn it around. I suppose that’s why I keep buying books. There’s two full crates of books sitting next to me as I write this, in the small room above my friend’s place that I’ve been staying in this month. Said month, which is the first of my six-month sabbatical, ends tonight, and I’ve only just finished the book I was reading when it started; The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader. Which has like, what, 100 pages? 150? Looking back, it’s a wonder that I’ve even come this far in the series*, considering that I only started it this summer. I really really want to read more. And what sort of writer would I be if I didn’t?
So, to ratify my oath of reading, I’ll do what I always do when faced with… well, anything: I’ll make a list. A list of all the books I’ve read in 2021, and perhaps some that I remember from 2020. I’ll put it up over here and vow to update it whenever I finish another. It’ll look super pathetic at first, and then a little cliché because I bought all the books reddit told me to, but before long, it will bloom and flourish and I will finally return to glory. Ah, public shame, my trusty friend and motivator!
* I’m reading it in chronological order, not in order of publishing, making this book five – and me a monster to some people, I guess. To make it worse, I’d seen the first of the movies, read Lev Grossman’s Magicians trilogy, and had my mom – who of course re-read the series in a matter of a few weeks when I bought it – spoil most of the plot to me beforehand. I’m still enjoying it.