I missed the Literary Blog Hop last week, because I'm an idiot and I don't check my Blogroll before I post. This month's prompt was so interesting, I had to answer anyway. The Hop's questions always range from cool to original to important and this month's is in the latter category. Better late than never, right? Here it is.
How do you find time to read, what's your reading style and where do you think reading literature should rank in society's priorities?
I read from 45 to 90 pages a day. I do three sittings a day, that go from 15 to 30 pages. In the morning before I go to work, in the subway going back to work and before going to bed. It became a routine. Takes me about 30 minutes every sitting. I almost never watch television. That's the thing I don't have time for. Even when I dual wield books (one on Kindle, one in paperback) I always focus on one at the time. At this rhythm, I can go through four to five hundred pages a week. I read more on a good day and less on a bad, busy day but the 45 to 90 pages a day is an average I've been good at keeping.
I'm not sure what "reading style" means, but I'm always looking for that transcendent read that will make the pages of the book fade out and pull me into another world. I stop here and there to take quotes for my reviews, but the better is the book, the harder it is. I studied literature for a long time (too long) and got pretty good at picking a text apart, but I came to prefer not going too deep. Literature is not an exact science and writers or readers that treat it like it is get on my nerves. There has to be an alchemy to it. Something unexplainable. An invisible glue, that holds all these sentences together. You can't break down an atmosphere, can you?
That leads us to the core of this month's prompt and what I think is a very pertinent question. Literature has been pushed aside and made into this hobby for the intellectually privileged. Over many years in a literature department, I've seen so many people define themselves by the book they read. I've seen girls cry because a teacher would speak negatively of their favorite authors, I've heard my co-students talk down on what other people read in the subway and I thought things shouldn't be like this. These are factors that dragged me away from academia. That sense of exclusivity. We didn't share any secret. We picked books apart to understand them through cultural discourse. Interesting, yes. But we didn't hold the secret to an ancient art.
The easy answer is to say reading has been cornered by cinema, video games and internet. I beg to differ. If I hopped on the pulp bandwagon, it's because it's a witness of a time where everybody read. It's a time where men in particular, were all reading on the bus, during their lunch hours, whenever they could. It's because they had a products targeted for them. There is still a "pulpy" market for women with Harlequin novels you can buy in supermarkets and drugstores, but the male equivalent is gone. Now, if you're a guy, you have to read a certain type of novels to find what you look for. Literary, crime, noir, horror, science-fiction...and while we're still a lot to read those, many guys are intimidated by the length of these books.
The power of fiction, to me is to open a reader's mind to new possibilities,to a new vision on a different array of subjects. It should be used as a way to spread ideas to the masses. Cinema is already being used as an ideological vector (ACT OF VALOR, anyone?). Why not literature? Human beings will always put life in stories to make them intelligible. Why not make the most of it?