Wednesday, December 10, 2008
I Can't Read Anymore
So, that's not entirely true. I'm still literate, but 2008 has been a bleak year for me in terms of readership. I have Facebook, Gmail, and Twitter to thank for my dwindling attention span. I don't know if you've noticed, but the internet is highly addictive. Now, I'm not one of those poor iPhone-owning saps who walks around checking their e-mail every five seconds, but when I'm at work, I am constantly plugged-in.
In more ways than one, the internet is an amazing tool. One can educate herself on just about anything under the sun: there's an endless array of information. We're reminded to take everything we read on Wikipedia with a grain of salt, but I can't help but read an entry as it's usually the first thing that appears when I want to do a search for, say, Rasputin. So who knows if all the knowledge I'm amassed on important topics like Gout can really be considered knowledge.
Ultimately, I'm obsessed with the connectivity of the internet. At any moment, I can keep tabs on all my friends and acquaintances. I can exchange ideas with people I barely know. Hell, I've even fostered friendships purely online. (Luckily, these have developed into real-life friendships as well). But all these clicks of my mouse and the comforting sound of keyboard has made me impossible to entertain. I can no longer read novels. If I'm not enraptured by the first page, I feel a wave of disgust come over me. Rageful, I want to throw the book out of a speeding train.
(Side note: Buffy the Vampire Slayer also gets an honorable mention for detering me from my literary purusits. I don't know if you remember, but I started watching the series back in June, and I finished the complete series---all seven seasons---last week. I don't regret watching the entire series. Buffy has become a very important part of my cultural topography . . . but seven seasons, at about thirteen episodes a season, in forty-five minute increments: let's see, that's about . . . um . . . I can't do the math. Let's just say it's a lot of time).
This year, I've done a better job of trying to be more social and see more of my friends, regardless of inclimate weather or lack of sleep. On top of that, I try to get my poor, poor butt to the gym at least three times a week. I also, as of the last eight months, have enjoyed the company of a very lovely, miraculous young man, also known as my boyfriend. Oh, and then there's my job, where I read mostly terrible manuscripts and am oftentimes discouraged with the future of literature as a whole. I'm a busy girl! I don't have time to read.
It's easy for me to forget what a voracious reader I used to be. That upon reading Mrs. Dalloway for the first time as a Junior in high school, I devoted my entire summer before my senior year to reading everything Virginia Woolf ever wrote. And I mean that: every diary entry, every letter, every novel, every work of nonfiction, all collected essays, etc etc etc. I basically read a book or more a day. In addition to my self-imposed Woolf symposium, I managed to read a contemporary novel here and there: namely, Middlesex, and The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Klay.
So what the hell happened?
The Internet happened.
My adult life happened.
New York happened.
In conclusion, I'd like to give a shout out to the ten books I began this year . . .
and never finished:
Anna Karenina, by Leo Tolstoy
The Brothers Karamazov, by Fyodor Dostoevsky
The Wings of the Dove, by Henry James
The Sleepwalkers, by Hermann Broch
The Book of Memories, by Peter Nadas
Sentimental Education, by Gustave Flaubert
The Confessions of Nat Turner, by William Styron
Loving, Living and Partygoing, by Henry Green
Netherland, by Joseph O'Neill
For the record! I did read:
Roberto Bolano's massive 2666,
Werner Herzog's brief but beautiful Of Walking in Ice,
One of the most terrifying novels I've ever read, Never Let Me Go,
The charming, whimsical Zuleika Dobson,
and, my favorite read of the year, the devestating and ultimate Sophie's Choice.
It's on, facebook. It is ON.