Thursday, December 30, 2010

Best of Reading

In college, I had two really hard professors in political science, and I revered both of them. One of them, George Thomas, taught me constitutional politics and always really challenged me. I remember him telling me that his favorite book of all time is The Brothers Karamazov by Dostoevsky, and that he would reread it over each holiday break. I have no idea why, almost 10 years later, that I would finally pick up that book (for the 3rd time) on my honeymoon and bring it home, and then decide to try to read it on my own (almost non-existent) holiday break. (I can barely pronounce Karamazov or Dostoevsky - but at least it seems en vogue to refer to the book as "The Brothers K.")

I started reading it, and I'm still reading it, and I will be reading it for a long time. I have finally gotten used to the Russian names and nicknames, but I still don't feel like I get lost in the book yet (which is the point of reading during holiday vacation, at least to me, but this may be why I'm not a constitutional politics professor). I am trying to read more classics, and I think I succeeded at that this year, but I am also trying to make sure I read a book a week, and that was not happening with TBK (even shorter and easier to say!).

What's a reader to do?

I picked up another book that I wanted to read during Christmas break, The Instructions by Adam Levine. Instead of being over 700 pages like TBK, it's over 1,000. And the writing is being compared to David Foster Wallace. Umm, it's also not an easy read, but I've at least found myself lost in the Apatakisic world.

My current reading material reminds me of the summer I spend reading Infinite Jest. It was WORK. And in the end, it was worth it. I've never read such accurate depictions of depression and addiction, and that really hit home. In the forward of the version I read, Dave Eggers talks about how sometimes a reader needs to work and put in time and effort:
"And yet the time spent in this book, in this world of language, is absolutely rewarded. When you exit these pages after that month of reading, you are a better person. It’s insane, but also hard to deny. Your brain is stronger because it’s been given a month-long workout, and more importantly, your heart is sturdier, for there has scarcely been written a more moving account of desperation, depression, addiction, generational stasis and yearning, or the obsession with human expectations, with artistic and athletic and intellectual possibility. The themes here are big, and the emotions (guarded as they are) are very real, and the cumulative effect of the book is, you could say, seismic. It would be very unlikely that you would find a reader who, after finishing the book, would shrug and say, 'Eh.'"

I guess my subconscious is agreeing that I need to do the same, hence TBK and the Instructions.

Grant is also struggling to get through a book right now, so we established a reading night. This may be the best part of marriage yet! Wednesday night is book night, which means I read a cool 100 pages yesterday, exercised my mind, got myself sufficiently sleepy, and had a really good night's sleep.

I wonder how well I'd sleep if I'd exercise physically, too? Eh, let's talk about that later - NEXT YEAR. (Get it?)