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Stuck (briefly)

I was doing really well with the whole Finish-Everything-I’ve-Begun challenge.  Really well!  Finished my Skew socks, then I finished reading Michael Pollan’s The Omnivore’s Dilemma (excellent, fascinating), then When Books Die (charming, interesting, clever and stimulating). Congratulating myself, I turned to the Reading Pile and saw that behemoth. Hoo boy.  That up there is Camille Paglia’s Sexual Personae, which is so far interesting and compelling and, well, slow. There’s a lot to take in, both in volume and in complexity. It’s a bracing 900-or-so pages of narrow margins and small font and dudes, it’s not going to happen. In fact, it was giving me reader’s block. I kept picking it up, reading a page or two, thinking about what Paglia had to say, and then putting it aside and doing something altogether un-reading-related. I couldn’t commit to Sexual Personae because I knew it really needed a whole hour (or half-hour, at least) of sitting and thinking with it; it’s a particular kind of reading and it is too slow and thought-intensive to pitch against a deadline of only a fortnight or so.

Meanwhile, I was accumulating books that I really, really want to read. Behold the tower behind the mammoth:

See, we have recently set up a book exchange at work, which is a fancy way of saying we’ve set aside a couple of shelves in the library for people to drop off books they’re done with for other readers to grab, free of charge. I can’t stop checking it and I keep scoring books: not just randomly-interesting books, either (say hello to Portrait in Sepia and The House of Blue Mangoes), but books that I have meant to buy for ages and haven’t gotten around to, just waiting on the shelf for me to give them a loving home — Catcher in the Rye, The Blind Assassin, Five Quarters of the Orange, Midnight’s Children. How can I say no to these needy orphans? Their innocent, appealing faces, their compelling plots and barely-touched spines.

In light of these two considerations (the weighty impediment of Sexual Personae and the noise of the jostling waiting-in-the-wings collection), I’m shifting the goalposts for my Big Pre-Move Challenge.  Not by a lot, just enough to exclude Sexual Personae from the obligations.  As a coworker pointed out, I have proportionally read so little of Sexual Personae that, really, it couldn’t be considered “started” at all, and is therefore not an in-progress read.  I like the way my coworker thinks. But I’ve started Five Quarters of the Orange in its stead.  Oh, and The Marriage of Cadmus and Harmony, since I left Five Quarters at work and had nothing to read at home (nothing, I tell you!).  And, uh, A Room of One’s Own.  Does it count that I finished reading Howl? Probably not. Good read, though.

Original List, finished books removed:

The Waves
The Omnivore’s Dilemma

Tempests After Shakespeare
Sexual Personae
When Books Die

Things I Learned From Knitting

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