So Long Mono-reading, I’m going to miss you!

My reading experience during January was delightful. I read six books in their entirety after finishing off Proust’s In the Shadow of Young Girls in Flower, and was only a few pages short of finishing Rosa Liksom’s Compartment No. 6. At first, I put down my euphoria to a run of exceptionally good novels, but I soon realised that after a year of switching between multiple books, I’d returned to mono-reading.

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My holiday must have set the ball rolling, as there’s nothing more satisfying than one’s total immersion in a great novel during long lazy days in the sun. When I got home, I just carried on. As a result, I have a stack of books waiting to be reviewed, while David Copperfield and Infinite Jest collect dust, and Moby Dick, Don Quixote and The Guermantes Way look very unlikely to get started let alone finished any time soon. I’m surprised at how much of a difference mono-reading made to my reading pleasure, but it was really significant. That said, I need to balance my reading pleasure with my enjoyment of blogging, and that’s the tricky part.

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While I will often write straight up book reviews, I do find it frustrating to try and capture the essence of a novel in only a few paragraphs. I worry that my brevity merely skates across the surface, creating a shallow reflection of books of far greater depth and import. The posts I love writing the most are the ones where an idea has struck me while reading a passage – a phrase, even, and that’s been my starting point to meander off from. I’ll often happily write multiple posts about a book if I’ve found enough to write about in it. However, if I only mono-read, I might end up writing about a single book for weeks on end if it’s 50 million pages long and full of interesting ideas. No-one wants that to happen, however scintillating the book is! I have to face it, poly-reading (in moderation) is the only way.

What I will do from now on though, is allow myself the occasional mono-reading holiday – an entire month of single-focused reading with no swapping in of hefty tomes to break my concentration. It might not be perfect, but I think it’ll be a happy medium.

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