Friday, July 18, 2014

Epiphany #46: A Book A Day...

One of the luxuries of being in Florida, one of the strange habits I often develop, is reading an entire book each day.  Not every day, of course, but there was a streak there of three or four days going.  Now, this is not some brag, some showing off on my part.  I'm not a slow reader, but I'm not the fastest reader either.  Like I said, this is pure luxury.

It can't be a long book.  I'm not looking to spend all day in a tropical climate with sun and wind and waves not far away sitting in a chair.  No, the books I'm talking about tend to be 300 pages or less.

Yeah, I read a lot in Florida because, as I've mentioned before, there is an incredible public library system here.  So I may well have other books going in addition to this little one-a-day habit.  (Imagine, if you will, the person who will read a biography of Stephen Crane.  That person is me.  And that book is much slower going than the ones I'm talking about here.)

So far, here's what I've knocked off:

Sous Chef--24 hours in the life of a sous chef in an upscale New York restaurant.
The Headmaster's Wife--a mystery that starts with a elderly headmaster stripping naked in Central Park.
Monster's Chef--a novel about a down-on-his-lunch chef who is hired to work for a Michael Jackson-ish figure and the dark secrets of working in that compound
Dark Lies The Island--12 short stories from a highly-regarded contemporary Irish writer

The best part of reading a book a day is reading a book in one sitting.  I don't know if you have ever indulged in that practice.  Poe said that his short stories were meant to be read in a single sitting in order to achieve their "effect," and to this day, I think that observation has dictated the nature and length of most short stories.

It's a bit harder to achieve with a novel or a novella or a non-fiction book.  But if you're on vacation and if there is that certain down time in the middle of a vacation day when you come back to regroup from the activities of the morning and before the evening begins and if you have a large and comfortable leather chair that you can stretch across sideways and if you have the quietude where you can fall asleep for a little while if you get drowsy and then pick right back up again and, most of all, if a book gets its hooks in you to where you can't stop turning the pages, then, yes, a book can read in one sitting.

I remember the first time, as an adult, that I ever read a book in one sitting.  The book was Word Of Honor by Nelson DeMille.  It was early in my marriage and career and my wife was out of town and it was a Saturday morning and someone had handed this book to me and I started it in the morning and basically sat in a chair all day reading it.

The book was probably about 700 pages long, but was such an engrossing military courtroom thriller that I had to know what was going to happen.  I suppose, in a way, it was not much different from people today who binge on a television series like House Of Cards.  Sometimes fiction (sorry, non-fiction, but I don't think that you can pull this off), whether written or performed, can pull me so deeply into its world that I'm not interested, for a certain stretch of time, in re-entering my own.

So I will say to you indeed, that should you have the luxury of being able to enter a book so deeply that you can read it cover to cover, then by all means, do so.

Isn't that what vacations are for?  That and riding bicycles.

4 comments:

Billy said...

I watched the entire Season 3 of "Luther" last Saturday morning. That's the closest I can come to your accomplishment. And it's only four episodes, but it felt like it took an entire day.

Robert Berman said...

I too found "Word of Honor" a compelling read. I read of couple of others by him as well, but in my memory, that was the best.

Kath said...

Also need to watch at least one episode of Criminal Minds. Just sayin'.

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