No Books

I have started some books this year, but I’ve not as of today finished a single one.

My normal reading hour, which is my lunch time every day during the week, has been greatly disrupted for the past few months just by the need to often spend my lunch helping my mom our in some way. But that’s no excuse, really.

I’ve been busy with a lot of skateboarding, and frankly, toward the end of the day I simply don’t have the mental energy left to read much of anything. I sure, I’ll surf the web a bit, but no real reading.

At any rate, I started a very interesting and somewhat short book about modern vs. old sleep habits. I found this book after realizing that I slept better in Germany, while camping, than I ever do at home. I actually felt rested, though I was on a cheap military cot, in a sleeping bag, in a tent, and it was cold. This caught my attention. I guess that fact that I feel tired as shit all the time wasn’t enough, but I had nothing with which to compare my normal feeling of sleep deprivation.

As an experiment, when my wife is going for a week in August, I’m going to try my best to turn off all screens of any kind after 9pm at home. No interwebs. No TV. Just maybe some reading (not on a Kindle) and music (not on a computer or iPod). I’m going to then turn off all the lights in the house at 10, and block all unnatural light from bedroom. and go to sleep.

This is going to be hard to pull off, because the asshole neighbors behind us keep a porchlight on for their fucking dog. Other people insist on keeping “security lights” blazing all night, though we live in lowest-crime neighborhood in town. Blah blah blah. My point is — there is a lot of natural light to shut out, and that makes it impossible to also WAKE from natural light.

So this may just not work. But it is a worthy experiment, and at worst I will get more sleep. So no harm in trying.

Well, back to reading. Though I love getting all tired in the evenings from skateboarding, I also love to read. I’m going to a contest in Philly in October, but I must admit I’m looking forward to winter. I’ve come to love the winter. Dark early. Cold days. Lay on the couch and read and read and read. I love that.

So maybe I can crank through some good books in the next five months and save the year. It would be nice if Pancho were still around to lay next to me while I read, but maybe this guy will try to fill his shoes.

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More thoughts on reading

I’m between books right now. That can be a scary place to be, as it requires a decision to be made. What’s next on the reading agenda. That’s right. I have an “agenda”. I just don’t  know what it is.

I was talking to a friend recently about what he is reading. He really likes post-apocalyptic science fiction, and by now he’s probably kind of a scholar in that area. He was wanted to branch out, and he really likes “hard” science fiction. I recommended Red Mars, by Kim Stanley Robinson. Great book about the colonization and efforts to terraform Mars. Complex, full of really cool stuff.

It’s part of a trilogy, actually. I loved Red Mars. I got about halfway through book two, Green Mars, and just sort of lost interest. They are pretty long books.

I have very little ability to stick with long works of fiction, and I am kind of just done with series of fiction. I’ll still read short works of fiction, but I just can’t sink that much time into reading stuff that isn’t “real” anymore (I’m not counting comics here). In the late 80s I read this very long series of novels called the Wild Cards novels, about superbeings coming into being on Earth due to an alien virus. In the early 90s I read a lot of books based on Dungeon’s and Dragons. I spent a lot of time reading that stuff. It was enjoyable at the time, but I can barely remember anything about them. I turn 50 this year so I don’t have lots of time left. I can’t spend my remaining reading time on shit like that.

Reading takes a lot of time. I think most people don’t really read much because of the time involved. They say that people don’t read so much anymore. I see “studies” on the interwebs that say a huge percentage of Americans never read a book after graduating from high school or college. A couple of observations on this…first, I find this hard to believe, given the insane number of books produced every year. Who is reading these books? Cats? Ghosts? I’m not sure I buy it, even though I hold the collective intellect of our country in very low regard (see Fast & Furious movie series, Glenn Beck, and TMZ). Second, there are just a lot more entertainment choices these days. People can get their escapism with the internet, cable TV, movies, sports, blah blah blah. The book has a lot more competition than it did years ago.

As I think about this, I don’t think I even really buy the notion that Americans read more in the past. I don’t believe it. I think people are pretty much the same as they’ve always been.

Ughhh…I’m losing my focus…

I was thinking the other day about the potential number of books I can read in the rest of my life. Realistically. Not in Bob’s Speed Reading Fantasy World.  I usually read about 15 books a year. I am trying to get 25 in this year. 25 good ones. I’m about to turn 50. Let’s assume a rosy outlook and say I’ll live to 75. I’d like to live longer than that, but who knows. Further, let’s assume that in the last year of life you feel like shit and don’t feel like reading at all. So that gives me 24 years of reading. Further, let’s assume I keep reading at about the same rate — 15 books a year. That is 360 books. That’s it. That’s all. That doesn’t seem like very many books. I’m an educated person. Good grief! What’s really sad is that according to my Goodreads.com account, in which I have counted every book I’ve ever read (that I can remember, and I think I remember most of them), I’ve read as of this very moment 232 books. Damn. That’s just insanely sad. So I’m looking at a lifetime total reading of less than 600 books read.

I gotta do better than that.

My friend Jim, who is roughly the same age as me, reads about 100 books a year. Sometimes less, sometimes more. 100 is about his average. Clearly he reads a lot faster than me, but he also puts a lot of time into it. Assuming he also has 24 years of reading left, that is 2400 books (in addition to the thousands he’s already read). That’s still not really that much.

I will stick with 15-25 per year.