At the end of this post, I will be no closer to a decision.
Whyyyy do I have such difficulty committing to the next-book-to-read? It’s the embarrassment of riches, isn’t it: too many choices, too much beguiling me. My pile is scandalous. Green Dolphin Street came in via interlibrary loan; I have three weeks (no, two and a half, now) before it must go back, no renewal possible, so it is the clear and obvious first choice, yes?
But the print is so tiny and my attention wanders, much as I long to fall in. This is a problem more and more, even with reading glasses. I’m utterly spoiled by the enlargeable fonts on my Kindle. Scott teases me about the billboard-sized letters I favor.
But oh, this pile of books beside me! Lovely, whispery, papery books! And then about fifty of ’em on my Kindle. Egad. I’m almost at the point of stabbing blindly at the touchscreen and pledging myself to whatever tome I land on.
Can you call them tomes when they’re made of digital sparkle?
This was meant to be my June booklist roundup. Obstreperous thing, it says No, I think I’ll be another post entirely, thanks.
Freshman year of college—tiny liberal arts school dominated by its conservatory theater program, in which I was enrolled as an acting major—a required course was “Focus on the Fine Arts,” an amorphous art appreciation concoction involving short rotations with art, music, theater, and dance professors. It culminated in a grand production written, set-designed, choreographed, composed, and performed by the entire hapless freshman class—including the nursing majors, the business majors, the future journalists and psychologists and historians. Our assignment was to write a modern adaptation of Faust. The thing was a hot mess, and we all knew it—what could we do? Everyone was assigned a role outside his or her specialty, the theory being that this would “stretch” us. It was decreed that the area in which I needed most stretching, literally and figuratively, was in dance. Our choreography was rather freeform, only my form wasn’t terribly free. It would take a generous definition to call my ameoba-like oozings “dancing,” but in fairness to my poor uncoordinated limbs, it must be said that it was another vast stretch to call our accompaniment “music.” Much of my group’s star dance number took place against a backdrop of voices (each of them presumably selected because singing was the area in which they needed most stretching, so you see the difficulty we were all up against) chanting—relentlessly, ceaselessly, tonelessly—Choi-ces, choi-ces… Two notes, low high, over and over. Choices. Choices. Those words, those notes, burrowed deep into my psyche and chew at my brain to this day. I rummage through the book pile, lifting one, flipping through another, and in the back of my mind, those voices are chanting. Choi-ces. Choi-ces. Is it any wonder I flail and contort, performing graceless mental gyrations in my efforts to settle upon one single solid choice? I’m an amoeba, oozing my way around the pile, enfolding them all, unswallowing one here and there, absorbing, pouring myself in six directions at once. Forget Faust, this is Hamlet I’m playing, stuck pondering the options, vulnerable to outside forces thrusting a choice upon me at last.
All of which is to say, I can’t decide what to read next.
A hyperdeveloped sense of justice compels me to add that I carried some memorable connections away from that class, ridiculous as its extremes were. It was there I first met Liszt and Klimt, and there I encountered more of Handel’s Messiah than the Hallelujah chorus. And, well, I did read Faust.
On the other hand, in our “adaptation” (a generously applied word), the devil’s name was Mimi Tofless. Mimi. I ask you.
Enough of this nonsense! Go leave a comment on yesterday’s post, if you haven’t already, to enter the Wisteria and Sunshine giveaway. Lesley Austin has much more sensible things to say than I.
Close your eyes and pick one. Then, decide that one wasn’t really what you wanted right now, and close your eyes and pick another. Repeat until either tired or satisfied.
On July 3, 2012 at 6:35 pm
“We are confronted with insurmountable opportunities.”
— Walt Kelly
On July 3, 2012 at 6:47 pm
Kris Bordessa says:
Your comment about the font size made me smile. I accidentally picked up a large print book at the library last week. At first I thought, “what am I, in preschool?” and I got similar comments from the kids on the beach who spotted the large type. But as I started reading it became evident that those bigger fonts are so much easier on these aging eyes.
On July 3, 2012 at 7:03 pm
Do the wild and unsensible thing. The book you have no hurry to read. The least unlikely. The biggest. The random one with the intoxicating cover.
And whatever you do, don’t pledge to anything. Duty reading is the dreariest kind.
On July 3, 2012 at 7:36 pm
Well, I read Faust in high school … No oozing required 😛
Pick a book, see if you make it through the first chapter, engrossed and relaxed: if not, chuck it for another one.
On July 4, 2012 at 8:32 am
Melissa Wiley says:
Alas, I fear that has been my downfall…the ability to read first chapters free on Kindle has turned me into a terrible sampler. 🙂 I bet I read twenty first chapters for every book I commit to! Which is not the worst thing in the world (and I often circle back to those books later), but the ease of sampling contributes to my postponing a decision.
Of course there are sometimes those first chapters that grab my by the shorthairs and won’t LET me turn away. That makes the choice easy (removes the decision from my power, somewhat). But many of my favorite books have a slow build and required two, three, four chapters to draw me in deep that first time…
On July 4, 2012 at 9:17 am
Edith Hope Fine says:
Relax, Lissa. I own Green Dolphin Street. Will take to Sat. mtg.!
Love Nevil Shute? Have those, too!
Have you read Mink River?
On July 4, 2012 at 10:36 am
Your college experience make’s me think of my son’s freshman writing class experience — terrible class. Colleges just keep trying to figure out what to do w/ freshmen, and can’t seem to find it. On the other hand his freshman seminar, in economics, was excellent. The Prof said his job was to come to class and stand back and let the discussion happen, and at the end he said it was the best class he had taught at that school. Nice when it works.
On July 4, 2012 at 4:55 pm
You know, I think sometimes that the *emotional* commitment to reading fabulous fiction, or fascinating nonfiction just isn’t there. And that’s okay. Sometimes our minds need a bit of a breather. That’s when I return to tried and true favorites (maybe from childhood). Just an easy comfy reread to slip into, like a cool drink of water. And then, refeshed and rested, I can once again delve into the new and weighty tomes.
On July 5, 2012 at 4:24 am