Wednesday, 18 May 2011

The Waiting Room: On life and reading


I love reading, and thus I read a lot. I always have at least a couple back-up books lying around in case I finish the book I'm reading sooner than planned. And mostly I'm busy with at least two books at a time. One for bed; one on the bus; and maybe one at work.

I've read a lot of fantasy, and now that I've been busy rereading Robin Hobb, I've come to realise that when I read series, I remember most of the first book, and less of the following titles. My theory is that once I'm into a series, I'm so eager to get to the ending and find out what's going to happen, that I pay less attention to all the marvels and wonders along the way. (When reading Fool's Fate for the second time, which is the conclusion to both The Tawny Man trilogy and to the stories about Fitz as a whole, I hardly remembered any of the plot. I was that obsessed with finding out the fate of the beloved Fool when I read it the first time!)

Reading Shantaram was a different experience. The closer I got to the end, the slower I read. I dreaded that final page which would close off the initial awe of the story to me forever (unless I sometime in the future suffer oblivion's kiss).

My realisation of my reading habits made me think about my life as well. I'm a planner; always looking forward. It's almost as if I enjoy planning a party more than I enjoy being at the actual party. Or I'm more eager to embrace my future than to centre myself in my now. This is my story and I'm sticking to it (pun intended), I shouldn't live my life eager to read my final pages.

("With the story coming to its end, all one's last bad poetry finds release", In the Heart of the Country by J M Coetzee).

I'm in a place now where it would be easy, understandable even, if I focussed all my hopes and my attentions on the future, rather than the now. Despite being in the metaphorical waiting room at present (oh literal irony), I've decided that I refuse to put my life on hold. I must find meaning in my now, because it's pretty much all I've got ("I'm gagging on a diet of universals", In the Heart of the Country by J M Coetzee).

And what's better, really, than a nice cup of tea, a new book to read, an exciting gym class and people you love?


...Or am I like Magda in In the Heart of the Country, who's living a fictional life (obviously) based on literary conventions of what makes up a life ("This too happens to women")?

I often get ahead of myself in my walk (race?) of life. Consciously deciding to stop and enjoy helps me be thankful for all the wonderful things in my life. So I'm gonna let myself surge ahead when I read and I just have to know how the story will end.

The truly great ones will make me pause anyway.

2 comments:

Camilla said...

Kjempestilige! MÅ absolutt prøves:)

Sigrid said...

Erm, æ mente egentli til den andre posten, den som hete for booklovers.