Okay, so this is what I had in mind for my long weekend reading. A little experiment. In theory it sounded good, as if I could finish several books at once with little pain or planning and even have time left over for other things--other books, needlework, maybe even a movie or two. I really do like to think big (even though this time around I really thought I had a good plan), but sometimes you have to downsize along the way.
Rather than just read completely at random, I decided to try and make a concerted effort at finishing several books (three already in progress and one very short one that was as yet not started). I made my list on Wednesday, counted it as a potential reading day--making it five days, which is where my plan first went awry. Well, that, and the fact that I am a slow reader. And I have also discovered that as much as I love the idea of long uninterrupted chunks of reading time--the mind is willing but the body is weak (or, to put it another way, I can no longer spend half the night reading like I once could--now I fall asleep almost as soon as the nightly news is finished).
So, I made my list, counted how many pages per book I would need to read over five days to finish it. It averaged out to about 50 pages per book. Surely I could manage that over a short vacation--a little less than 180 pages per day.
Well, wasn't I surprised to discover that I apparently can't manage that in a day. In reality it all comes down to the book. Some books just read slower than others. Some have big print and are all about plot meaning you race through the stories. Others are stories you really need to spend time reading slowly and absorbing. It wasn't good to start on Wednesday since it was a work day and I couldn't squeeze in that sort of reading in an evening--rather than having a whole long day to pace myself. That's okay--once I was free of work and other commitments I could catch up. I never did catch up. My first free day I read three of the four as planned, but then each subsequent day I managed one less book. Until yesterday I was just happy to finish one of them.
I finished one of my NYRB subscription books, Transit by Anna Seghers. It's an excellent read, but not a fast one. The print is tiny. This is a story where not much really happens but needs a thoughtful reader anyway. It is a story that provoked lots of underlining, dog earing, note taking and just general concentration on my part. It was the only book where I stayed on track and read dedicatedly. It was also the book I always reached for first so took up the bulk of my reading time. Well worth it, of course, but short shrift was then given to the rest. I'll be writing about this one, though it may not happen until the weekend.
Peter Lovesey's The Last Detective, which I have since (just) finished, is an easy and enjoyable read, and relatively fast. I just ran out of time. I like Peter Diamond. Part of the mystery concerned a couple of letters written by Jane Austen, which was fun to read about. It has a quasi-academic setting, and yes, I plan on writing about this one, too. And I plan on continuing on with the Peter Diamond mysteries.
And then there is Dashiell Hammett's The Continental Op. I have three stories left to read and this will hopefully be my 'Short Story Sunday' book but later this week (or maybe just on Sunday if time runs out). The stories are great. The settings wonderful. The writing and dialogue excellent. I even pulled out the other Hammett books I own before I even got halfway through the book and ordered two more that will be coming in the mail later this week, I hope. The Continental Op is sort of an enigma, a bit jaded. This is the man who was the "prototype" of countless "tough-guy" detectives. I feel like I've placed a piece into a puzzle with him, though I am still trying to figure him out.
And then there is Colette's Gigi and The Cat, which I was so looking forward to, and I will get to her, but I think I might be doing a little book shuffling now. I have pulled out my Claudine omnibus and will be perusing it next. Oh the dilemmas of reading choices, eh?
I am going to try this little experiment again this week. I've chosen four books, which I hope to spend all my reading time with (again, have counted pages and am hoping to ration them over the course of the week) in order to whittle down the pile a little more. But first I need to finish the stories in The Continental Op. Not sure I'll keep on with reading this way--the other books on my ongoing reads pile are beckoning to me. Can I continue to resist them?