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Sunday, April 12, 2020

So Many Books, So Little Time

Title: So Many Books, So Little Time: A Year Of Passionate Reading
Author: Sara Nelson

Sara Nelson got hooked to books after finding it to be a cheaper alternative to movies, at a time when she'd have already seen the Movie Of The Week before it came out in the papers, and found it better than having to forcefully talk to a 'narrow circle of not-so-friendly friends' as she adapted to her life of living alone in New York. And, from then on, there was no turning back. As Sara pledges herself to a self-assigned project of reading at least two books a week throughout the year, which falls apart after the first week, she records the ups and downs of her reading that year in this brilliant book that is a treasure trove for bibliophiles. 

When I picked up this book to read today, it felt like a book that I wouldn't read in a single sitting, but would probably stretch to a couple of chapters at a time. How wrong I was! So Many Books, So Little Time is a highly engaging, brilliantly written, honest and passionate account of Nelson's reading journey that somehow manages to rekindle the same passion in the readers, too!

Any reader is always tempted to hoard books, some of which they may read the very day they buy, and others just decorating the shelf for years together before they lay their hand on it again. Every time you look at the book that you bought but managed not even to open, there is a slight guilt that would probably make you to put the book at a slightly higher shelf so it can conveniently miss your eyes as they scan the shelf for the next book. The author beautifully captures the feeling, and brings out anecdotes of the books she bought, when and why she bought them, and how she hasn't even opened them though she definitely means to on the 'right day'. Hoarding her favourite collections in the wooden shelves designed by her husband Leo, she talks about those books that she expended hundreds of late-night hours on. 

By Sara's highly relatable theory, there are two rules to successfully reading and enjoying a book: right time, and right place. I couldn't agree more with her. There are some books that you would never enjoy unless you read it at the right time and place. I know for a fact that my brother never got around to reading Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe beyond the first few chapters, though I always believed he would enjoy it and kept pushing him to try it again. Thinking back, it may be because it wasn't the right time and he probably started the book a tad bit earlier than he should have, but later the aversion and the mindset about it made sure he never picked it up again.

The book is unimaginably familiar in some parts where you get an unexplained, silly dislike towards those books that are over-hyped, and where the general talk of the book has been on the tone that places an obligation on you to state you loved it. Like Nelson puts it: 
"We're a funny, cliquish group, we book people, and sometimes we resist liking—or even resist opening—the very thing everybody tells us we're supposed to like."
The book stole my heart with the author's genuineness as she writes about how we always tend to judge people by the books they read, whether knowingly or unknowingly, and how if she ever wanted to read Daniel Steele she would do it in her home and not take it outside. This is something that is so relatable. Whatever kind of reader you are, there are some books that you devour in your home for guilty pleasure without having to damage your well-known reputation for reading Dickens or, even better, flaunting the Nietzsche you probably never read. When I shared this part of the book with my dad, we had a good laugh as he jogged back the memory to his schooldays when he went around carrying Much Ado About Nothing by Shakespeare not having ever read a word of it! Though I  never carried around a book to that would help some show-off, there have been several instances when I have made sure I don't carry a lot of them, after severely judging myself for reading them! Nope, still not going to let you know what they were! 

On that note, about sharing, most bibliophiles have a compulsive and irresistible urge to share all that they read about, and all the opinions that they framed on it. I have, through my entire school life, bombarded my parents with an excited, dramatic re-narration of almost every novel I read. Sara Nelson, very lovably and in a way that we all relate to, says how her husband and her son have always listened to her excited narration: "only occasionally telling her to knock it off when she nattered on about stuff they knew nothing about and about which they cared less." 

My life at school was mostly just reading. I hadn't watched a lot of movies, and TV shows were particularly alien to me. I had often told my college friends exactly the same thing as this paragraph that I found in the book, an icing on the cake for me when it came to how relatable the book was:
"But there's a lot I haven't done, a lot of places I haven't gone. To tell the truth, I've been lost in more than a couple of Conversations with people who tend to make references to new restaurants, important magazine articles, and popular TV shows; can you believe I've never seen Friends? Not that I'm complaining. I've lived the past year exactly how I've wanted to—between the covers of books and in the places in my head that those books have taken me. I've been agitated, ex-cited, enthralled, annoyed, frustrated, and sometimes a little bored." 
I am absolutely thankful for reading all the books that I have read, and also for reading So Many Books, So Little Time. Into the first ten pages, I scrambled back to get my diary and a pen. It was such a pleasurable, joyous read, that took me by surprise as I went chirpily from one chapter to another, duly jotting down the interesting titles in a legible scribble, and made a mental note of the ones I wanted to get on reading immediately!

I cannot cover all the things that this book made me happy about in this post. All I can say is, this is a book that you would love.

The frankness of Sara Nelson, as the self-described "readaholic", is  absolutely refreshing.

'When things go right, I read. When things go wrong, I read more!' Pick up this book to get a dose of that passion, and a satisfying list of suggestions!

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