Chris Walsh (chris_walsh) wrote,
Chris Walsh

This *could* be a good habit...

How best to get into books? One word at a time, like writing them in the first place, but not all books open up easily. I'd tried China Mieville's Perdido Street Station once, several years ago; I didn't get past the opening italicized prologue. Probably I was starting the book too late one night; it probably just wasn't the right book to read then.

(It can still surprise me when it happens, when I can't find my way into a story. I often remember it when it does. All the way back in fifth or sixth grade I needed two tries to get into reading The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy; that first reading I just petered off barely into Chapter 5; and that was on top of having seen a bit of the Hitchhiker's miniseries a couple of years before and not quite getting it, so that's kind of like I needed three tries to get into an easy-to-read book that would have a huge effect on me. Honestly, had I wound up reading, say, Robert E. Heinlein's Starship Troopers back then instead, my life may have been MUCH different.

(And another surprising not-getting-into-it book? Elmore Leonard's Get Shorty. I got the paperback for a cross-country trip and somehow got stuck on Page 2.)

But I hate getting stuck on a book, or abandoning it. This hating-getting-stuck led to me taking a year on the difficult Katherine Dunn novel Geek Love, slowly whittling away at it. I can remember where I tailed off on books, and part of me wonders "Well? What happened then? WHAT HAPPENED THEN?" I wasn't interested enough at the time to finish reading, but I can sometimes remember where I'd stopped. Huh?

It helps that I got encouraged to read out loud.

Caitlin R. Kiernan included a note in her novel Threshold saying the book was best read aloud. I got that seed planted in my mind in 2002 and, come 2004 when her Murder of Angels came out, I spent the month of October of that year reading aloud the whole thing.

There's a variation on that which I'm starting to make a habit: read at least a book's opening section(s) out loud. Maybe I better feel the shape of the story by doing that; at least, it helps me get started.

This means, in this case, that I just read the first 19 pages of Perdido Street Station, meaning the prologue, Chapter 1 and part of Chapter 2, and, so far, that seems to have helped.

In other news, I like the sound of my own voice. As one should. I hope you do.

Here's to words tasting good on our tongues.
Tags: books

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