The comments on my mulling post on Thursday have been so interesting I just couldn’t leave comments in the comments. It seems there is a small majority who have no trouble reading complicated fiction in short chunks. You’ve all made me think more about my approach to reading and book selection. I must give a particular nod to Isabella who, in her comment, noted “All books get read one sentence at a time.” That is a statement I can’t argue with.
Even my Bookman thinks me a bit silly for saying I can’t read complex novels in small pieces. An inveterate bathroom reader, he has taken up the challenge of reading Proust. I was expecting him after one or two bathroom visits to return Swann’s Way to the bookshelf, declaring the long sentences impossible to enjoy or parse out while using the toilet. But no, he’s gone and proved me wrong and has declared Proust a “really good writer.” He is especially enjoying the metaphors. He is less than ten pages in and says he has no idea where it is going but he’s looking forward to finding out. I will have to keep an eye on him to see if, as he progresses through the book, he starts to spend more time in the bathroom in order to get one or two more sentences read.
I must see, therefore, if my thinking that I have to have a large span of uninterrupted time to read complex novels is a personal myth. I used to believe I could only read one book at a time. I set a personal record one summer a few years ago when I had ten books in progress at once.
I’m not certain what my selection will be to test myself with. I am tempted to take Guermantes Way on the train, but the fact that it is a fat hardcover has me casting about for another choice since I walk just shy of a mile to work from the train station and will have to carry the heavy thing in my bag. I have a few days to figure it out since my current read will probably take me through to Tuesday or Wednesday. I’ll be sure to post an update.