Thursday, January 20, 2011

Thursday Thoughts...

Entering a novel is like going on a climb in the mountains: you have to learn the rhythm of respiration, acquire the pace; otherwise you stop right away.
Umberto Eco

One of the great things about being in a book group is that you end up reading books you might otherwise have left on the shelf.  Sometimes its all too easy to just get in the groove with an author or a style of writing or a genre even, and just buy your ticket and go along for the ride. You know how it moves, how it is paced and how you can expect to read it.

With many of the books I meet through book group, it takes me a while to work out how they will work. How is it paced? Is the writing style staccato-like; short stubby sentences that feel jerky or uncomfortable? Or are they long rambles that you read twice over just to make sense of it all? Is there so much description you nod off? Or are things pared down to the essence such that you read them quickly and then get stopped in your tracks as you acknowledge the perfection of it? Or does the richness of the language just add depth and understanding as the sentences get longer and you follow along enthusiastically?

This quote by Umberto Eco captures that sense of reading a novel being a bit like a dance where you have to learn the steps, respond to your partner, be guided here, take the lead listen to the rhythm. A dance as you climb in the mountains perhaps?


  1. A new quote for me - thanks. I like your words, too. Now I'm left wondering what you're reading at the moment!!

  2. Oh Annie - we're reading Anna Karenina!

  3. I really like the idea of reading as a partnership of sorts, between book and reader, that in the process of your reading it, the book is teaching you how to read it! That's so much richer an experience than just skimming a text and thinking "that was okay" and walking away unchanged...but Fiona, if you're reading Anna Karenina, no chance of that!

  4. i'm not good at reading groups. really not. i'm too darn ornery. my sister is, though!

  5. G/TT - sometimes I think I need to take the time to learn how to read a book; rather than assume I know how to do it all before I begin. And oh yes, Anna is teaching me!

    Velma- Somehow I think I understand! I quite enjoy having my perspective or view challenged or opened up a bit so they work for me; and I just love reading and talking about books so that's good too. I received the Annie Dillard books in the mail this week - but Anna K is consuming me for the time being.


I appreciate your thoughts and comments; thanks for taking the time.