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Wednesday, January 5, 2011


read ahead for the challenge


if you have, well, maybe it will and maybe it won't.


Kids are selfish.  (Not a bad thing.)

All of us have at least some kid in us--some more than others.  (A good thing.)

This Wednesday--today--and more so than other Wednesdays, this post of "Wednesday's for Kids" is not intended exclusively for kids (inasmuch as kids are defined as people who are not grownups, though the distinction, here at least, is utterly pointless) but intended to motivate you to tap into your inner kid and be, via just one particular activity, selfish for one day.  (WARNING: this may be preternaturally difficult for the unnaturally selfless.)

Backing up a bit, and in the name of contrast, pretty much all of the reading on "Mr. Center's Wall" is slow.  Really slow--like less than a chapter-a-day slow.  If you've tuned into my Dubliners feature for instance, well, that's about five or six pages about every week-and-a-half.  So, slow.  And there's very specific advantages to going so slow.  It's like using a microscope.

But what about fast?  And not so much an increase of words-per-minute, but pages-per-day.

Stay with me:

So there are benefits to reading slow.  Duh.  To get what I want to get out of a story from Dubliners, I've got to read those same five or six pages (they're really short stories) five or six times--practically a scanning electron microscope.  But what if I read the whole book--and that's only something like 150 pages--in one day?

Have you ever read a book in one day?  In one sitting?

The most memorable reading experience I've ever had came when I was about ten years old.  My family came into a new edition of Alice in Wonderland.  I knew of the book.  I'd seen a couple different Alice movies.  But I'd never read the book.  The illustrations intrigued me.  The advertised weirdness interested me.  I set myself up on the couch and started reading.  It was Thanksgiving break.  Snowy outside.  Smelled nice and foody inside.  And I only left the couch to eat.  I was there for something like ten hours.  Everybody else doing puzzles, watching football, playing computer games.  Me reading.  And reading.  And reading.  It was amazing.  And not because I was ten and demonstrated a ten-hour attention span; amazing because I was interested, into it, excited--it was cool!

Since then, there have been a number of other books I've read in one sitting: Call it Courage, Ender's Game, and The Hobbit, to name a few of the other most-memorable.  However, and while all excellent, they are not necessarily the best books I've ever read.  But the experience of ditching, at least temporarily the microscope for the macroscope is fascinating.  The experiences--slow versus fast--are entirely different.

  1. Pick a day for utter and complete selfishness and mark the calendar (don't have a calendar? make a poster with the date, the book title, and your signature and hang it on your wall; take a picture and email it to me);
  2. erase all obligations, cancel all appointments, turn off all phones, touch not your computer (not even with your wee little eyeballs);
  3. pick a book you haven't read (making sure it's one you got on good authority and will not slowly poison you through the skin of your hands over the half-a-day (+) you'll be holding on to it);
  4. do all grocery shopping and food prep and caffeine procuring IN ADVANCE (plan well);
  5. read;
  6. report back here.
Actually, REPORT HERE NOW, if you don't mind.  Two things you may include (1 for those who will do it; 2 for those who won't): 1, what book will you be reading and when will you read it; 2, what book would you read if you were willing (and/or able) to take the challenge?


Already done it?  What'd you read?  


  1. Arg, I don't know if I have time for this. Can I take a rain-check for some day in the summer? Btw, how on Earth did you read "The Hobbit" in one sitting!?!?! Actually, I pretty much read "The Deathly Hallows" in one sitting, except for 5-6 hours of sleep between, so I guess I can see it. I've also done "Candide", "The Woggle-Bug Book", and "The Wind in the Willows" this way recently. I find that I miss more of the philosophical/literary tricks, but enjoy the story more. You're right. It's totally different reading.

  2. I did L'Inferno in one sitting and then The Odyssey later than same week in one sitting--both assignments for the same class. It was nuts. Unfortunately the assignment had the opposite effect I would have otherwise hoped for. They made me mad! Though L'Inferno interested me enough that not long after I went back and read it again. That was a pretty stupid book (stupid of the teacher) to read that fast. I'm sorry, but unless you're a true scholar of Italian history, you're just not going to "get" Any of the Divine Comedy in one sitting.

  3. Umm... no. Italian history as well as many other fields. That is absurd. I don't even know that it would be that advisable for "The Odyssey".

  4. No. I would not advise "The Odyssey" in a day. It's not a favorite of mine, though I'm glad I read it back then.

    The class we my "Humanities 101" class my freshman year. It was TERRIBLE! Correction: the teacher--the teacherS, really (two semesters were required for my generals, and there was a new teacher second semester) --was terrible. And considering the other works we read in that semester (I don't remember more than the fact that they were short and simple), there was NO REASON not to put either of those books at the end and write more time for the reading (among other things) of ONE OF THE GREATEST BOOKS OF ALL TIME into the syllabus. It was silly.


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