There was a time a few years ago when I would walk into a bookstore and my thought would be I’ve read it. I ventured to all my old familiar friends, and unless Stephen King had come out with a new book none of them had anything new to offer me. I’d read all there was of Hemingway, Fitzgerald, Faulkner, Steinbeck, DeLillo, and Ellis. I tried getting into Phillip Roth, John Irving, and John Updike but could never manage it, and I admit I’d never attempted any Norman Mailer. I was stuck in a rut of academic canon.
One day I called my father and expressed my lament that I had run out of books. He told me to try Ken Follett’s Pillars of the Earth I devoured that as quick as one can a thousand page novel and moved on to World Without End and the recently released Column of Fire. I had rediscovered the joy of reading and begun to broaden my horizons, but I still needed new authors to peruse.
At some point around this time I watched the Netflix Series Altered Carbon and decided to give that book a try. I will admit that that did not go as well. I found the writing to be rather childish. The Netflix Series matured up the story and was far better than the book. There was a particular sex scene that made me stop reading because it read as if it was written by a prepubescent 13 year old boy who was obsessed with the number 69. I just couldn’t anymore after that scene and put the book aside, but it was another Netflix Series Safe that really opened up my world.
I have always been a fan of mystery novels. I have read enough Agatha Christie to not be able to remember which books I have or have not read, I consider Sherlock Holmes to be the first super hero, Raymond Chandler and Dashell Hamett hold a special place in my heart, and I have even dabbled in the world of Robert B. Parker. The series Safe was written by Harlan Coben and I decided to check out his latest offering. Soon after finishing that book I read the latest Stephen King The Outsider and was confirmed in this decision when one of his characters professed to be a fan of Harlan Coben, and it was this that truly opened my world.
I learned here that when it comes to what books to read I should listen to the authors I enjoy. This is how I began reading Michael Connelly, Patrick Rothfuss, N.K. Jemisin, Brandon Sanderson, and others. I have also learned that when characters or the others in an afterward or foreword list their inspirations that you should listen. This has brought me to books like Nights at the Circus, The Day of the Locust, Dog Soldiers, and Mildred Pierce. The books and authors you currently enjoy are excellent about telling you what they enjoy and it is very likely that if you enjoy their work you will enjoy what they enjoy as well.
Now that I have discovered the branching paths within the books I am reading it is hard to deviate. Venturing off the path could lead to danger zones and I may discover a book I cannot stomach. I always feel a book should be given 50 to 100 pages, but that if it isn’t enjoyable at that point there is no need to trouble myself further. For 2020 I have set the goal to ready 52 books. That is one book a week and currently I am ahead of that pace. I have read five books for January and will finish with either six or seven depending on how the babies are. Yesterday it took my roughly an hour to read a single page as they were having a night of 10,000 angers.
While I am in no danger of veering too much into the danger zone of boredom a time wasting book or one that bogs my down could be costly to the overall goal. I also need a library card. I can’t see myself spending money to finally attempt to read Bleak House or Run Rabbit Run or to finally attempt to read the books of Anthony Trollope. Then there is the fact that the current tense political climate has me wanting to read both the Federalist Papers and Anti-Federalist Papers. We can also not forget my enjoyment of reading philosophy, religious, and folklore texts. Adding The Tale of Tales, The Ethics of Freedom, or The Upanishads to my reading list could have serious consequences if I’m paying $10 to $15 a book. I do think it best I get a library card as simply writing this paragraph has created in my the desire to dive into these texts.
Then there is my writing. I am nearly done with the third chapter/story of my next book. I have been nearly done with it for weeks. I have notes on how to finish it. I know its end, but I haven’t sat down and written it, and not because I am too busy or the babies need me or anything like that. I simply have done other things instead. Like writing this or after I finish writing this I will go downstairs and continue reading The Light Fantastic or eat breakfast. I do still have to eat. Man cannot survive on coffee alone.
There is a lot to be done in 2020, and if I wish to do it I need to get to it, but I must recall I am ahead of my goals and even if I were only on pace I have time for other things I need or want to do.