I’ve found myself in a very strange place recently, a place I never thought I’d find myself. It began when I started to read The Kill by Émile Zola a couple of weeks ago.
Not being a very long novel, I anticipated it wouldn’t take me too long to get through it, as I also thought I would love it, just like I’ve loved every other Zola novel I have read. But pains me as it does to say it, I just haven’t been feeling it. Whilst there is 1 great scene contained within the first 100 pages, in general, it is an overly descriptive, light on story piece of writing. Maybe it is me and I just don’t appreciate it, but it hasn’t hooked me in any way.
When I am in that position that I realise I am struggling with a book, my reading world slows down. I first get the thought, ‘oh well, I’ll just speed through the rest of the book and be done with it’ and then realise I’ve read 7 pages in 40 minutes.
There is nothing to help me get through a book I am just not loving. I slogged on a couple of years ago reading The Idiot by Dostoyevsky, which took me 3 painful months. I kept going because the first quarter of the book had been some of the best writing I had ever read, but the rest just didn’t live up to the early promise.
The awful thought then comes, ‘do I give up on this book?’. Zola is the last author I’d ever want to give up on, as I really want to read the whole of the Rougon-Macquart cycle of novels, but how can I carry on, when I’m robbing myself of reading the hundreds of other great books out there?
In my head, I had decided to give up on it. I’ll just have to come back to it one day, when I am a better reader and just get through it, I thought. I decided to go back to the Greek classics and read Medea by Euripides. Now this hooked me straight away. Happy that I am reading a book I really like, I then out of nowhere read a few more pages of The Kill.
What?! Am I reading 2 books at once? I never contemplated I would be in this place. I’d heard some people read 2 or 3 books at a time, but I thought that was crazy. How can you love one book with all your heart, when you are seeing other books at the same time?
My plan has always been to read one book at a time. But now I realise 2 things: Firstly, reading 2 books should not be much different to watching 2 TV programmes (programs for my American readers) or more over the course of several months. Secondly, reading a book you are fully engaged with can help you get through a book you are determined to get through, but are struggling with.
It has been a slow couple of weeks for me on the reading front, but now hopefully with this new way of reading, I can make some progress again. I’ll let you know how it goes!
My aim is to blog once a week. This means I didn’t post as intended last week and I feel a little blogger guilt for that, which is silly I know. But I have found a small group of dedicated readers through this blog, who I love talking to about the classics, which was always the main point of creating this blog.
There may be weeks I don’t post, but in general, my plan is to be a regular blogger, for it is my creative output. Some of the blog posts, especially my ‘thoughts on’ posts do take a bit of time to write, but in those instances, I will try to fill the gap with shorter posts like this one. I should have 2 ‘thoughts on’ articles coming soon though, on The Kill and Medea.
It’s still a challenge to read and blog regularly, what with raising an 8 month old at the same time, but I believe that life can be a harmony, and everything you love will find its time.
Thank you so much for those who read this blog, your words and thoughts mean a lot to me, and I hope to continue writing posts that get people thinking and writing!