"An infinite amount of time"

"The worst way to read, he said, is with the thought that you do not have enough time. The only way to read is in the knowledge that there is an infinite amount of time stretching ahead, and that if one wishes to taste only a few sentences per day one is free to do so."
~Gabriel Josipovici, Moo Pak

This is a quote from a book I haven't read, but I love, love, love what it says about reading.  For anyone whose ever been burdened by a toppling mountain of books TBR or starts looking at their shelf space as BABLE (books acquired beyond life expectancy) I think this sentiment is a nice one to take to heart.  As I pondered my shelves last night wondering what my next read should be I hesitated before delicately peeling Clash of Kings out of its dust jacket.  As I opened the weighty tome, inhaling the five year dormant book scent, I flipped to the end, paged through the index, and stared at the final page of story (no spoiler fears, it's a reread).  Three little numbers taunted me from the corner of the page - 728.  Seriously?  Seven hundred twenty eight pages???  Seven hundred twenty eight pages that I've already read - and I'm going to read them again?!?  All seven hundred twenty eight of them??!?

Yes.  Even when there are countless other books waiting for me.  Even when my lightweight-hold-in-one-hand Kindle is fully loaded with a plentiful selection of fiction, nonfiction, and short stories in a huge span of genres - I'm rereading Clash of Kings.  And I'm refusing to feel rushed or bogged down or any sense of deadline while I do so.  I'm not going to feel guilty that I should instead embark on something new to me.  I'm not going to look at the other books on my shelf - some of which were lovingly given to me as gifts and one which was even lent to me by a friend - and feel that I should read them first.  I want to read another George R.R. Martin.  I love his world and his characters and even though I know their story, there are nuances and details that have faded from my memory.  It's the book I want to read and it would be frivolous to rob myself of that enjoyment for any reason. 
"Frozen in Time" photo found here

Which brings me to the above quote and leaves me asking, why don't I usually look at books with the feeling of "an infinite amount of time"?  Why don't I feel that I can read as much or as little as I want?  I know I used to.  Back before I actually kept track of the books I read, I could wander the library and either come home with bags filled with choices or just a single novel in hand.  Now I'm much more direct - find the books I want, place a hold when necessary, pick them up, read them, return them, repeat.  And if I wasn't quite in the mood for something I borrowed, I would read whatever I had lying around, even if it was one that I had been through cover-to-cover multiple times.  I suppose things changed when I started to discover how many new books and new authors I wanted to read.  The more I branched out, the more I realized how many good books were out there that I had not read; the more that people began to tell me about great books that I should read; and the more I began to crave reading them all.  Once I started recording titles on an official "To Be Read" list, reading became something to get done rather than something to enjoy.

But no longer.  I read what I want.  I read when I want.  If that means I get through 110 books in a year, great.  If it's only 53 that's perfectly fine too.  There may be titles that linger TBR for years or more, while other titles have a span of only minutes in the queue.  The list itself is there only as a memory assistant, an adviser of sorts but never a tyrant.  Reading is my luxury.  It is my joy.

And for it, I do have "an infinite amount of time". 

8 Response to ""An infinite amount of time""

  1. Anita says:
    April 29, 2011 at 1:10 PM

    OMG, I am at this place right now, while I am still loving and enjoying each book I'm feeling overwhelmed. I've been given books, bought books etc and I want to read and review them all, some I said I would, and others I just want to. I'm almost frozen as to what to read when...ugh.
    You have probably made a huge choice...good for you!

  2. Enbrethiliel says:
    April 29, 2011 at 3:26 PM

    +JMJ+

    That's another great quote! And not just because it reflects my own experience that reading to meet a deadline kills the whole point of reading.

    Yes, in one sense, we'll never be able to read everything we want to get to, if we dawdle over books (or "worse," reread stuff we should already be "done" with) . . . but there is magic in the dawdling and in the rediscovery that comes with rereading. I like to say that I believe in reading "the right book at the right time"--and sometimes I also find that the right time can stretch on for an extra week, as I reread moving passages and just ruminate on them, instead of jumping to the next book on my list.

    (Heck, sometimes I think I shouldn't even have a a list!)

  3. Ellen Stewart (aka Ellie/El/e/Mrs. Seaman) says:
    April 29, 2011 at 4:55 PM

    I read for fun, but I like to get a book done in a day or two. I want to know how things end, and then I think of the characters beyond the book thinking of what's next...even though the book is done. Does that makes sense?

  4. Bailey (The Window Seat Reader) says:
    April 29, 2011 at 5:23 PM

    Best post ever! I really love the quote. And I love your new attitude. Reading absolutely should be a luxury and a joy!!!

    I linked to this post in my friday 5! :)

  5. Sarah says:
    April 30, 2011 at 3:50 PM

    Awesome post! I constantly feel the need to be quick about reading books... not so much hurrying through them, but I want to be able to read as much as possible. For some reason the thought of not having read all the books that I want to before I die is terrifying. And while I am trying to make re-reading a point this year, to remember why I love the books that I love... I don't know if I'll ever be able to escape that feeling of itching to read the next book.

  6. Jen the bibliophile says:
    May 2, 2011 at 3:34 PM

    Okay, so this topic is sensitive to me because I too feel the same. I have this growing pile of TBR's, but not because it's a shelf I have to work through, but review requests from authors to get through. It's become something that is more a job than the fun relaxing thing it used to be. So what was my reply? Patricia Briggs. HUH? That's right, I decided to REREAD every book I owned by Patricia Briggs. That included 5 total. I also proceeded to reread my 2 Gail Carriger books. It made me feel better. It brought me back to why I read. From there forward, I decided, I would read when I wanted and what I wanted. I warn anyone I review for that I have no idea when their review will post. It makes everything...easier. More fun. I like reading so much better now. Great post Lisa.

    Jen
    In the Closet With a Bibliophile

  7. lisa :) says:
    May 3, 2011 at 3:57 PM

    Thanks for the shared thoughts everyone!

    Anita - I'm glad others share the feeling and I suppose we can share the sentiment of "one book at a time"!

    Enbrethilial - You definitely hit the nail on the head with describing the "magic in the dawdling and in the rediscovery that comes with rereading"! Such a perfect way to put it and I would ditch my list altogether but I just don't trust my memory for all the great titles that are recommended to me!

    Ellen - It totally makes sense. All the best books I've read live on with me past their epilogues. :)

    Bailey - Thanks for the link up and so glad you liked the quote!

    Sarah - Isn't it crazy how our love of books can be what takes away the pleasure of enjoying them?

    Jen - I'm glad I'm not the only one embracing the what and when attitude!

    Happy (Re)Reading Everyone!

  8. Anonymous Says:
    April 9, 2013 at 1:15 PM

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