Saturday’s Comment on an Odd Reading Idea

Cinderella's slipper?
Cinderella’s slipper?

I recently read an article in the New Yorker magazine, by Christine Smallwood, about the book  “The Shelf: From LEQ to LES”  by Phyllis Rose.  Here’s an excerpt from the article:

“I thought of my adventure as Off-Road or Extreme Reading,” Phyllis Rose writes in “The Shelf: From LEQ to LES,” the latest stunt book, in which she reads through a more or less random shelf of library books. She compares her voyage to Ernest Shackleton’s explorations in the Antarctic. “However, I like to sleep under a quilt with my head on a goose down pillow,” she writes. “So I would read my way into the unknown—into the pathless wastes, into thin air, with no reviews, no best-seller lists, no college curricula, no National Book Awards or Pulitzer Prizes, no ads, no publicity, not even word of mouth to guide me.”

I haven’t read the book but I was thinking about the idea.

I wouldn’t do it.

Especially as the article says that Rose made herself finish the books, even if she didn’t like them.

I can see the adventure (though not on the scale of SHACKLETON’S  adventures! REALLY!) in randomly picking up a book and trying something I have never heard of. I’ve done that a few times in the library.

But I wouldn’t finish books if I felt the writing to be poor, the story ridiculous or just didn’t like them!

There are so many really good books out there that I haven’t read yet, why waste my time?

Would you?


2 thoughts on “Saturday’s Comment on an Odd Reading Idea”

  1. Hi Naomi,
    I haven’t heard of that idea before, and I’m not sure I’d do it, but I have forced myself to finish books as part of a challenge. I was much younger then, and don’t bother nowadays, but it does mean I can say I’ve finished such classics as James Joyce’s Ulysses (hated it!), Catch 22, Watership Down, Wuthering Heights… In the process of doing the challenge, I also fell in love with various authors: Charles Dickens, Jean M. M. Auel, Colleen McCullough…reading many books I’m pretty sure I never would have picked up otherwise. It really broadened my reading palette. The list I was working through was the BBC Big Read, published in 2003, and I finished it in about 2009 (I’d already read 25 when the list came out). I’d love to know what the list would look like if they did it again now!

    1. You have a good point, Sandy. I felt that when I was doing my degree in EFL and we had lit. courses. I never would have finished Heart of Darkness by Conrad otherwise and I never would have encountered Edward Albee. Good for you!

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