it’s beginning to look a lot like something

I had to chip/melt a solid sheet of ice off the car yesterday before I could go to work. Winter seems to have started early this year, and is loathe to go anywhere anytime soon.
Other people post on their blogs what books they are reading, or have book blogs, or discuss other interesting book-related topics. But not me. Now, I supposedly love to read, and spent the vast majority of my childhood either reading or wishing I were reading.
Unfortunately, in my latter years, I seem to have a hard time finishing books. If a book is more than 350 pages long or so, there is very little chance I’ll ever finish it. Usually by the middle of a long book, I’ve forgotten what happened at the beginning and who half the characters are, and am completely at sea as to what it’s all about. I could start over again, but it’s too familiar to be entertaining, and feels like a chore and a waste of time, so I just give up.
I think my years in graduate school have contributed to my inability to finish books. In graduate school one never reads a book, there just isn’t time. An article, maybe, if it’s short and seems to contain enough information to make it worth your while. Also, most of them are far too boring to actually read. Instead, one frantically skims through the assigned readings at top speed, attempting to extract all significant nouns and concepts, scribbling brief notes which you then memorize for the exam and forget immediately afterwards.
This leads to a habit of reading quickly and shallow-ly, and forgetting immediately anything that you will not later be tested on. Reading like this takes a lot of the fun out of books read for enjoyment, and perhaps accounts for much of my literary amnesia.
Anyway, here are some of the books I’ve half-read recently:
The Return of the King, J.R.R. Tolkien. The first half was very good, even better than the movie. Though the dark cloud which blotted out the day in the book gives a rather sinister cast to the dim miasma we’ve had as weather around here recently. Someday I’ll finish this one–I’ve got to find out: is the Ring destroyed? Or does Sauron win in the end? I mean, I know what happens in the movie, but maybe the story was just happy-ed up for Hollywood like the cartoon Hunchback of Notre Dame and that one about the Romanovs.
Vanity Fair, William Makepeace Thackeray. Everybody loves Becky Sharp, it seems, but I don’t yet. Of course, I’m less than a quarter of the way through. The Victorians had plenty of time to read, apparently. Maybe I’ll just Netflix it. The title brings to mind another book I’ve never finished, The Pilgrim’s Progress, John Bunyan. I’ve read the Christian half a couple of times, but don’t think I’ve ever made it through Christiana, despite it having been intended as more accessible to weaker vessels such as myself.
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, J.K. Rowling. This one doesn’t really count since I’d read it before, and started it again right after seeing the movie so I could compare. I abandoned it for Vanity Fair, which I still have not given up on by the way.
There are more, but that’s enough for now. I’ll see you…(soon? on the flip side? later, alligator?) And have a nice (day? Christmas? trip, see you next fall?)
The world may never know…

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