Wednesday, 10 March 2010

Reading the Right Amount

I have decided to read less. Not less, really, but slower, so, inevitably, this does mean fewer books. The impetus for my first Resolution since 1978 (when I gave up self-improvement) is a . . . book: The Ode Less Travelled by Stephen Fry.

If you don't know Stephen Fry, first of all you aren't English, but second of all he's an actor, writer, director, poet, comedian and probably other stuff.

I thought his book would help me learn to like poetry, but it turns out to be a book on how to write poetry. That's all right; you usually like things better if you know the rules.

Fry starts by insisting the you read s-l-o-w-l-y. This is a formidable obstacle to poetry reading as far as I am concerned. I don't have time to read slowly. I don't read fast, but I read as fast as I can. There are so many books in the world and I'm having trouble getting to them all.

Reading all the books that one sees puts great pressure on a person, like counting the number of books read per year -- which, you will remember I've stopped doing. Well, you'll remember if you used to read my book blog.

But Fry has given me the idea that I'm doing it wrong. What's the point of reading if you're missing stuff because you're in a rush to get to the next book?

So, read less.

This will be harder than not counting. Part of counting included reviewing and that was work. I can always give up work.

I may keep you posted.


  1. I've recently made a resolution regarding reading as well. I don't have to finish every book I start. It goes counter to my nature to leave any book or movie unfinished (no matter how pathetically horrible it is) I too have realized that there are far more books I want to read than there is time to read them.

  2. I made that one a few years ago. I think the discipline was good for me, but: So many books; so little time.

  3. I'm reading more slowly too - I like it better that way, but it's a whole new discipline...

    The. Perfect. Book. for reading slowly is Marilynne Robinson's "Gilead". The perfect book ever, in any case, but perfect for reading slowly because, well, it makes you read slowly. Quite magic.

    Have you read it?

    I also tried Not Finishing Every Book, but I got the guilts...

  4. I find when you read too fast you get wearied and don't take it in. better to relax and enjoy.