I’m currently reading David Foster Wallace’s comically weighty novel “Infinite Jest’. Since the only thing more sanctimonious than a 25-year-old white guy reading Infinite Jest is a 25-year-old white guy writing/blogging about reading Infinite Jest, I’m going to divert this into an examination of my process of reading, post-haste (which only seems to be anything other than a narcissistic and intellectually navel-gazing activity by virtue of the other alternative, I think).
I take breaks when reading books. Often. Especially when it’s a challenging read. I put down Kundera’s massive essay ‘Testaments Betrayed’ for nearly three years (when that happens, one will absolutely be doing some re-reading -not necessarily recommended, but hey, it has worked for me, so…) Perhaps a more productive example would be my reading of Cormac McCarthy’s ‘The Crossing’. McCarthy has a very singular voice, and he employs dense, lyrical prose that reads very slowly. At just under 500 pages, my reading of The Crossing was well-served by my short detour into some shorter and easier-to-digest reads, like Marc Maron’s funny and quick ‘Attempting Normal’. It allowed me to come back to McCarthy a week or so later with new energy and a fresh hunger.
This may be a result of my nascent and moldable brain watching too many YouTube videos in 2008, or it may be my moderate dyslexia setting some hard limits on how much of a certain kind of input is capable of being processed at full capacity. I don’t know. I do know that I have the best retention and the most original thoughts about a piece of work when I’ve reading 4-8 different things all at once, juggling fiction with nonfiction, highbrow and low culture, with some lit mags and a bit of genre thrown in. This seems reasonable to me.