Thursday, April 13, 2006

Reading "serious" books

Reading Middlemarch: Muse-ings I'm linking (above) to a lovely post on the excellent blog "Reading Middlemarch". The post, by Diana, is mostly about being a muse, stimulated by her reading a novel called "Memoirs of a Muse", and her thoughts on Dorothea in that connection. However, the main reason I wanted to link to Diana's post is that I do so identify with her second paragraph: "I am absolutely shocked to see how many of you have actually finished the entire book already. This has been an interesting and eye-opening experience for me; I can see that my attention span has dwindled from years of reading breezy, modern, fast-moving literature. In the words of Dorothea, "I am very slow. When I want to be busy with books, I am often playing truant among my thoughts." I often have to go back and reread an entire page when I come to the end of it and realize that I have no idea what I just read." Although I do agree with Diana's sentiments, I also find that as I get older my short-term memory (if not, thankfully, my attention span) is "not as good as it was". In my "zine" posting of last night, for example, when I lost half of it thanks to Blogger disconnecting, I had difficulty in remembering all the things I'd said -- and I know I didn't remember the entire thread of logic in the lost bit, so the posted version is not as satisfying (to me) as the lost version. This is one reason I tend to read more "bright and breezy" fiction these days than I used to. But these Middlemarch posts, and much of what I'm reading on the many excellent blogs about books, are making me think I should perhaps return to being more ambitious about reading "serious" literature -- even though the Grumpy Old Bookman would not have much truck with it. I know, however, that I will be like Diana: "As so many of you have said, there is much deep thinking represented here. I am contantly scribbling profound passages into a notebook, and still I get the feeling that in trying desperately to keep hold of the story, I'm passing over more of these passages than I'm catching." Yes, definitely a case of "notebook at the ready"!