Here’s the sad truth: I’ve spent the last three months laboriously trekking through A Game of Thrones. I don’t know why, but almost every time I start a book, I have to finish it, no matter how disinterested in it I’ve become. There are a few exceptions and I can list all of them on one hand. They are: The Story of God by Franco Ferrucci (100 pages left), The Monsters of Templeton by Lauren Groff (300 pages left), Visitation by Jenny Erpenbeck (70 pages left), and The Lord of the Rings Trilogy by J.R.R. Tolkein (7322 pages left).
It’s not that these books are necessarily bad (though I could make a case for Visitation), it’s that they’ve lost their appeal, often because they’re far too repetitious and/or long-winded. There are countless paragraphs in Thrones that could be cut because Martin decided to spend the duration of it describing superfluous details, such as wardrobe. While in the middle of The Two Towers, I remember reading a full page or more on the ornate carvings and history of a door. Often, these books are so heavy in the minute details, that I the story they’re meant to tell becomes lost, and I no longer have the desire to learn what happens.
I was about to explain my three month sojourn through Westeros, but before I could, Sarah said, We’ve met English teachers who say they don’t read. They say they don’t have time for it! But they’re English teachers! Reading should be part of their job!
I completely agree. But yet, I was just about to mention that I was too busy to get a lot of reading done. I’d finished reading a couple books earlier in the year, but my determination to finish Thrones along with grading essays, planning lessons, and writing, revising, and editing my own work, has left me little time to do much reading. Instead, when my brain is overworked and tired, I much prefer watching movies or wasting time on the internet. I swear that Facebook, Twitter, reddit, and StumbleUpon are the ultimate end to a once productive civilization.
I’m not a prolific reader to begin with, but last year I was a reading machine. I tore through works by Hemingway, Vonnegut, Torsten Krol, Cormac McCarthy, Paul Harding, and John Connolly. In total, I read sixteen books, which isn’t going to make headlines, but for me that’s an accomplishment. This year, I’m stuck on book number three. Sure, it’d be easy for me to get out of my slump by starting something new and interesting, but I’ve spent so much time reading and, for the most part, enjoying A Game of Thrones that I can’t quit now. I can’t say I read it if I don’t reach the last page.
I’d rather dredge through a book slowly rather than have to explain, I mean, I’ve read most of it, but I couldn’t get through the last hundred pages. In fact, it’s so hard for me to let go of an unfinished book, that the books I listed above I still consider to be in progress. I’m going to finish them, just at some later unspecified date. This is also why I have trouble raising my book count: I can’t start another until my current one is finished, even though I’ve been on the same book for over ninety days.
I always get a little apprehensive when people ask what books I like. Sure, I love literature, but I’m insecure about the prolificacy of my reading. I know people who can easily read thirty to fifty books in a year. For goodness sake, my wife can read that many, yet I’m the English major and I’m the one who should be going through books the way Charlie Sheen goes through cocaine.
But the good news is, I’ve got just seventy pages to go. Seventy pages, which are made of paper from the ground pulp of trees and then pressed and printed and bound into a book. I held this book as I sat in Starbucks wearing denim jeans that stopped just at the ankle and red cotton shirt. The shirt was given to me…
…see what I mean?