Sunday, December 19, 2010

Some days are for books

This weekend was the first in a long time that felt good for reading. True, I still haven't finished the collection of short stories I'd been reading fairly steadily the last week, but only because I don't yet have another book by the same author. I'm rather taken with the author - I'll finish only when I know I have where else to go to. Meanwhile, I read two fairly easy, enjoyable books over the weekend.

It's easy to dismiss easy reading. We often confuse "good" literature with "difficult" literature. It's not something so easily defined. It's not as if we say that any difficult book is excellent, but so many of the books we deem to be "classics" and "worth reading" are... difficult. Is it a backwards case? Do we comfort ourselves after reading difficult books, by saying that, "Well, it's a classic. It's an important read," or is simply that the more complex a book is, the better it is? Or none of the above? (probably the latter answer...)

I have nothing against hard books. True, it's easier to burn out when reading them, but there's a wonderful sense of reward when one finishes a long, complex book. I can't pretend I don't relish that feeling. And yet... sometimes a reader needs to relax. After months of struggling with reading (I've had little time or desire in the last two months to read very much, and as such I've read maybe 3 books), it's nice to get into a flow of reading.

Last weekend I began reading the lovely short story collection (I'll be writing more about it later, and will explain its anonymity) and reread a favorite book (that is still amazing - more on this later). I spent the week continuing to crawl through North and South, reading a few pages every evening. Finally, Friday and Saturday I sped through those two easy reads. Great works of art? Questionable. But they both helped clear my head and today I picked up the heft of Wolf Hall at the library. The librarian smiled as she handed it over and said, "This one needs to be back within the month. No renewals." Staring at the fat paperback as compared to my other (slim) choices I replied, "I guess I better start with it then..." We'll see how that plays out.


  1. Wolf Hall is definitely doable in a month but I think it will require a concentrated commitment. I found it to be a page-turner that was incredibly dense - so I was unable to read it quickly. But I also couldn't stop. I hope you'll enjoy it! It's worth the time and effort, I think.

  2. Definitely easy reading is a good thing and sometimes a necessity! After finishing Gravity's Rainbow, I think I need some easy things. I might just hunt down some comfort reads for the holidays. I'm curious what your book of short stories is!

  3. I agree, sometimes you really need an easy read. Sometimes a hard-or-complex-or-challenging-or-whatever-adjective-we-choose read just doesn't hit the spot, especially when there are too many other things going on (as I recently ranted about myself). I love a complex novel, and I love the classics, but I also love Robert Jordan and Dennis Lehane and other easily-digestible reads.

  4. I've heard so many good things about Wolf Hall. Maybe I'll get that read in 2011. What collection of short stories are you reading? I just began an anthology by Raymond Carver which I'm crazy about!

  5. "It's easy to dismiss easy reading. We often confuse "good" literature with "difficult" literature."-I have noticed lot of posts on Trollope lately-everybody loves him including me-he is the epitome of good literature that is not difficult!


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