Sunday, June 28, 2009

Stalled Out

I'm having a problem lately. I think it has to do with over-committment to very large books. See, I started a group read of George Eliot's classic Middlemarch with the gang over at the Fill-in-the-Gaps Project, and then I also decided to finish A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson for my real-life book club, and to join Infinite Summer, an internet group committed to reading David Foster Wallace's Infinite Jest over the course of the summer. So where am I? Playing on the computer and not reading :)

I have missed the deadlines for Middlemarch already - everyone was supposed to be finished with it this past Monday, and I'm only in the 6th of 8 books. I like the book and I want to finish it, but I've been beating myself up a little bit that I got so far behind and didn't catch up in time for the big finale. It's on the back burner for a bit now, though, because I haven't missed the deadlines for the other two books yet, so I need to turn on the heat to get on schedule with those!

For our July meeting, my book club decided that we'd all read different books by the same author and then discuss the author as a whole. Bill Bryson won the vote for which author, and that was fine with me because I was already 1/3 of the way through A Short History of Nearly Everything and figured that might give me the motivation I needed to finish. And I have read a LOT more of it...but I'm still only halfway through at this point. It's just so friggin' long!! I read it for about three hours on a recent trans-Atlantic flight, and I felt like I got nowhere. I'm supposed to have that finished by a week from Tuesday, July 7.

And then there's Infinite Jest, which is a 1000+ page tome that, if you aren't familiar with it, has been lauded as a contemporary masterpiece, one of the greatest pieces of literature to come out of the current generation of writers, and further idealized because of the tragic suicide of the author, David Foster Wallace, last year. I've never read it, and it was on my Fill-in-the-Gaps list. A friend of mine told me about this organized internet movement to read it over the summer, so I figured I might as well join up. I haven't even cracked it yet. The deadline for the first 63 pages was this past Friday, and the next deadline is tomorrow, and I have not even started.

The moral of that story is that I'm a little burned out and overwhelmed. I took on too many hefty committments at one time, and now all I want to do is read comic books. I am going to devote a significant portion of today to reading these books, though, because I don't like reading to feel like a chore, something hanging over my head, and if I make some headway and get a little caught up, it will be better. I am going to tell you soon, though, about the comic I've been reading recently, Scalped, because it's fascinating. But that's a tale for another day. Off to read some gigantic books.


  1. You are not in school anymore. These books you have chosen to read are not work-related. You do not have to live your life according to deadlines. Read comic books. Don't beat yourself up about it. Infinite Jest isn't going anywhere. Neither is Middlemarch. Enjoy your life. Read what you want to read.

  2. yes! she's right. read what you want to read.

    but re: MIDDLEMARCH--you're just at where it picks up!! it's TOTALLY worth finishing--the ending is awesome. I had to read the last two books in one sitting.

    then imagine your sense of accomplishment!

  3. I know, I know. Now that I've started Infinite Jest, though, I'm very intrigued by it. And once I got past the atomic history part of A Short History... I'm much more interested and I'd love to finish it before my book club meeting on Tuesday (though I'm not sure I can do it - but I'm going to try!). And MR, I really like Middlemarch. I'll get back to it. I read a chapter the other night. But I think I have to get past my next book club meeting first.

    I'm reading some comics, too, so I am reading what I want - everything!