Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Last Proper Summer Ending

Well this is the end to my last summer vacation ever.
But it's also the beginning of my last school year ever, and since I'm a glass-half-full kind of guy, I choose to think of it that way.

Last summer I gave a brief summary of the books I had read over the summer, of which there was only one. This summer I am pleased to say that I passed my personal record of books read for pleasure in a short timespan (in this case, Summer) to four and a third ... and some other random pages.
But that doesn't really accurately portray how much more I actually read, considering the first three books were massive novels which together made up The Millennium Trilogy. Each of those novels had above 600 pages or so (depending on the cover and edition) and were an absolutely massive undertaking for me to read.
Easily three of the best books I've ever read.
(image from here)

I had always thought that I was more of a writer than a reader; that I just didn't like reading. Well it turns out instead I had just never found much that I actually loved reading until now (I raced through the second book of the trilogy very quickly).
I followed up The Millennium Trilogy with the latest book by Chuck Palahniuk: Damned, which was an excellent change of pace from the seriousness and drama of the trilogy. It's about a fat thirteen-year-old girl who has died and gone to hell. It was a quick and easy read which I started and finished in a weekend (yet another personal milestone).
Then I moved on to  reading a book that was very important to me at one time, but after getting a third of the way through it I stopped (you can read more about that in my previous post).
Finally I moved on to Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, but it's not as interesting as it sounds and the novelty wears off quite quickly, and I've since abandoned reading that as well.
It can also be noted that I actually picked up and read the first few chapters of Fifty Shades of Grey somewhere in between all of that, but once all the "does he actually like me?" tension wore off and it turned into erotica I lost interest (though I admit it was quite good up to that point).

So where do I go from here? Four finished books and three unfinished seems like quite the ratio, but the fact of the matter is that I'm still figuring exactly what it is that I like to read, since I'm somewhat new to this. My goal is to next read the classic novel by George Orwell: 1984, which I look forward to very much as I've wanted to read it for quite some time now.

And of course on the side I continue to write. As those who follow me on Twitter saw, I achieved a milestone in my novel a few days ago (which relates to this old post), I've been fiddling with some flash fiction, and I've been making slow but steady steps towards publication of a certain something.

So my "last summer vacation" turned out to be a pretty good one, overall.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Knowing When To Stop Reading

Before I Begin:
I've gone back and added the label "[Megan and Danny Novel]" to (hopefully) all of the posts in which I blogged about my tentatively titled novel. Feel free to click on that tag to see all those posts, and perhaps get a better picture of what it's about overall. As usual you can select any of the other labels from the group of them displayed to the lower right of the page just above the list of followers of the blog (and you may notice a second new one if you look carefully).

Now Here We Go:
Last Monday I began reading a book that bears great significance on my origins as a writer for the first time. Unfortunately I found that I grew bored of the book very quickly, and put it down to resume later.
Awhile after resuming, I grew bored again and put it down, assuring myself that it will get much better soon enough and I only need to keep on trying.
This happened several more times, but it didn't take that long to begin questioning whether or not to continue reading the novel at all, and I found myself questioning at what point I would be able to best decide whether to continue reading or to forget it and start another.

I will not name the novel, however I assure you it was written by a very famous author and was a bestseller.
...also it had a lot of trees.
On one hand I have this burning passion to finally read the novel that accidentally inspired me to be a writer long before I'd read a single word of it.
On the other hand, it was incredibly dull and felt like a chore to get through.

A professor once told me that she decided if she was going to read a book based solely on the first sentence. If the first sentence didn't grab her complete attention and pull her in, she put the book back on the shelf and continued to browse. I was finding myself a fourth of the way through the novel and had absolutely no idea what I was going to do.
A friend of mine suggested I decide after reading a third of the book, and conveniently the first third of the book ended almost exactly at the end of the chapter I was reading. I took his advice and powered through the rest of the chapter.
Or at least that's what I intended to do. Somehow the book actually got more dull in the last six pages of the chapter and I ended up skimming through them annoyed. I then put the book down, removed the bookmark, and read the entire plot summary online.

Sometimes it can be very hard to figure out if it's worth reading a book once you've started it. In the back of your mind you may keep telling yourself that it's got to get better eventually, which may be true, but does that mean it's going to feel like any less of a chore? In this instance it was obvious to me especially after reading the plot summary that the book was definitely going to get much more interesting, but it was still obvious to me that there was more boring me about it than just the story itself.

In the end I'm glad I gave up, because now I can focus on reading something that interests me more.