Reading Against the Clock

   

You can read merely to pass the time, or you can read with an overt urgency, but eventually you will read against the clock.


Simon

 – Harold Bloom, How to Read, and Why (2000)

So reads the final entry in a fantastic new book I got from Simon, my Persephone Secret Santa. The book, Buried in Print by Julie Rugg is a collection of “literary extracts, quotations and bon mots concerning every aspect of bookish behavior.” It is the perfect volume for bibliophiles to dip into when a spare moment pops up. One is tempted to keep it in the littlest room in the house, but I have too much respect for books to do that.
And it is fitting that I should stumble across this particular quote given my recent fascination with what I might choose to read as I sat waiting for the world to end. Those of you who who did not assiduously read my review of The Hopkins Manuscript may have missed that discussion. (If you were sitting down to your final night on earth, you had said goodbye to everyone, you knew the earth was ending, which book would you pick up to read?)

And of course, for so many of us book bloggers, so much of what we do in some way has to do with reading against the clock. We join challenges, read-a-thons, read-alongs. We create lists of things to finish. We count the number of books we read in a certain time period. We join in reading weeks (e.g., Persephone, NYRB, Virago). We always seem to have our eye on the clock and we never seem to have enough time to read.

I would be remiss in not noting the actual Persephone that young Simon, dressed as Father Christmas and acting in the guise of my Persephone Secret Santa gave me: The Mystery of Mrs Blencarrow by Mrs Oliphant. I almost bought this one when I was in London in November so I was glad to get it. And also glad to have a shorter novel of Mrs Oliphant. I have been somewhat daunted by a very thick volume of hers, the title of which escapes me at the moment. And finally happy that I had both the Mrs Oliphant and Buried in Books in my nightstand so they fall within the TBR dare between now and April 1st. (See another time related reading goal!)

Thanks Simon. Your guided tour of Washington DC awaits.

13 thoughts on “Reading Against the Clock

  1. Frances January 9, 2011 / 2:56 pm

    The time restraints do seem unfair, and I find myself kind of pouty and rebellious about the whole thing lately. Reading and relishing The Children's Book at a slower pace right now than I have indulged in in ages. Like a child dragging her feet and delighting in her own dawdling. Nice post.

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  2. Teresa January 9, 2011 / 3:35 pm

    Wonderful quote, and I do feel that clock ticking sometimes! That's one reason I don't commit to a lot in the way of challenges, etc. I don't want additional pressure beyond the knowledge that I won't read all the good books out there before I die. That's what makes me pouty, to borrow Frances's word.

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  3. Willa January 9, 2011 / 4:24 pm

    I know the feeling of reading against the time – especially when I am tucked in bed, reading when I should be sleeping because I have an early start the next morning.. Happens often 🙂

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  4. LifetimeReader January 9, 2011 / 9:48 pm

    What I wouldn't do to set the clock back–maybe 25 years?–and start reading what I want to read now. Then I wouldn't have to feel so rushed… Great post.

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  5. Susan in TX January 9, 2011 / 9:59 pm

    Ooo, they look so lovely together in their shades of gray. I'm stifling the envy, though, and just being happy for you. 🙂 The Rugg book does sound wonderful. And yes, the whole idea of reading against the clock is one that is never far away. I find myself doing what Willa above said – reading when I should be sleeping. Glad your Santa stuff made it through all that bad weather in time for your TBR Dare. Have a great week!

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  6. Susan in TX January 9, 2011 / 9:59 pm

    Ooo, they look so lovely together in their shades of gray. I'm stifling the envy, though, and just being happy for you. 🙂 The Rugg book does sound wonderful. And yes, the whole idea of reading against the clock is one that is never far away. I find myself doing what Willa above said – reading when I should be sleeping. Glad your Santa stuff made it through all that bad weather in time for your TBR Dare. Have a great week!

    Like

  7. Rose City Reader January 9, 2011 / 11:37 pm

    I want Buried in Books and I want it now.

    I must go get my hands on a copy.

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  8. StuckInABook January 10, 2011 / 4:50 am

    Oh, it's me! Glad they finally arrived… and I'm going to have to get Buried in Books for myself now, aren't I?

    Reading against the clock – definitely. I note this because I have book group on Wednesday, and 200pp. to read before then…

    I'll take you up on that guided tour one day!

    Simon

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  9. Thomas at My Porch January 10, 2011 / 2:19 pm

    Frances: I often feel like I don't have enough time to read, but I almost never feel rushed. If I do, it means I am not enjoying the book.

    Teresa: Challenges can really mess up one's reading enjoyment.

    Willa: I mainly feel it at bed time. For me usually because I have spent the evening online or in front of the TV and then realize as I go to bed that I should have spent my time reading instead.

    Lifetime: I am not sure what I did with all my time 25 years ago. I certainly had a lot of it on my hands.

    Susan: When I first open the package I first thought the Rugg book was some new format for Persephone. I was excited and scared all at the same time.

    Rose City: It is a lot of fun.

    Simon: Thanks for the books. 🙂

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  10. Paperback Reader January 10, 2011 / 2:32 pm

    Tick tock, tick tock, tick tock… No time to comment, the clock is turning and I have to read!

    Like

  11. Emily Barton January 10, 2011 / 6:27 pm

    I love the quote. My great hope is that there really is an afterlife and that it consists of nothing but a huge comfy bed or couch or chair, piles and piles of books, and no such thing as time.

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  12. Nan January 10, 2011 / 10:31 pm

    The end of the world reading for me would be Wodehouse. :< )

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  13. Thomas at My Porch January 20, 2011 / 2:42 pm

    Claire: It does make me wonder why I spend so much time online when I should be reading.

    Emily: I hope your descritption is what retirement is like.

    Nan: That makes sense to me, although I would probably choose EF Bensen's Mapp and Lucia.

    Like

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