"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".