How to Live on 24 Hours a Day. His basic premise was that self-improvement will bring fulfillment to your life, but it was one of his side points about reading that really struck me.
I know people who take to reading as men take to drink. They fly
through the shires of literature on a motor-car, their sole object being
motion. They will tell you how many books they have read in a year. [But]
unless you give at least forty-five minutes to careful, fatiguing reflection
upon what you are reading, your ninety minutes of night are chiefly wasted.
This means that your pace will be slow. Never mind. Forget the goal; think only
of the surrounding country; and after a period, perhaps when you least expect
it, you will suddenly find yourself in a lovely town on a hill.
As I read this, I knew he was talking about me. But this is not who I was when I started blogging nine
years ago. Then I was reading a book a week. Although I am a fast reader, I read substantial books that required a certain amount of pondering. Books available to me in Brazil were limited and I carefully chose the ones that I would carry with me in my suitcase. Conscientious
choices resulted in pleasurable encounters with many of the western world's best authors.
A couple of years later the Kindle came out and suddenly I had a surplus of
options. Then I started joining reading challenges to help chip
away at my unending TBR lists. Last year my library began offering a gazillion digital
options for book downloads. I no longer read one book a week. I read 3 to 4.
This year I added 30 minutes a day of audio books every morning. And yet I've
noticed the law of diminishing returns: more books, less pleasure. This frenzy
has not brought the literary contentment that I used to sense on a regular
As I was reading Bennett's book, I kept saying to myself, "Next
year I'm going to read less books, read more slowly, and revisit old
favorites." Then it suddenly occurred to me that I don't have to wait till
next year. My tentative reading plans for the year (100 books at Goodreads) are a guideline, not a mandate. I can stop the
frenetic reading NOW. Whew!
But, I worried, what if that means I won't have as many books to blog about? So be it. On
second thought, I don't think that will be an issue. I'll read less junk
and have more time to devote to books that are worth my time (and hence,
yours). So I'm off to a slower pace and looking forward to savoring rather than wolfing down my books. I'll let you know how it goes.