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Thread: Advice on reading effectively

  1. #1
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    Jun 2013

    Advice on reading effectively

    I have a dilemma. There are so many 'canon' books I've read significant chunks of without ever having actually finished. Here's a partial list: Cousin Bette, Madame Bovary, Swann's Way, Lost Illusions, Crime and Punishment, The Brothers K, The Idiot, Moby Dick, Anna Karenina, and so on and so forth, including even shorter works, such as The Trial. I have enjoyed reading a significant amount of the above, but I can't seem to just finish anything. And anytime I come up with a 'system' by which I feel I'll get a book read completely it fails.

    I'm currently reading Love in the Time of Cholera, and it's not TOO trying to read, but whenever I attempt to read any 'important' pre-WW II work of literature I feel like any strategy I use to actually finish it fails unless it's something that isn't too challenging to read like Therese Raquin, for instance. I'll say to myself no matter what I'll read 25-30 pages a day of said book and within a month will be done. It doesn't work. I'll read it aloud, since presumably it'll help me be more engaged with the text. It doesn't work, etc.. I managed to finish The Red and the Black, since I made a pledge that I wouldn't touch another book until I had it read completely, but the effort seemed forced at times, especially as I ploughed my way through the second-half of the book. It's like after 180-200 pages of some think tome by Stendhal or Balzac I'll "run out of juice" so to speak, even if I'm enjoying and appreciating the book.

    Now I won't lie. There's an element of wanting to have them read along with my genuinely wanting to read them. Either way, it's frustrating. I feel like I can't just "put my feet up and read" something like Madame Bovary or what-have-you, and I hate the idea of reading a *major* work of literature in such a way that reading 4-5 pages itself is like some monastic/meditative effort in which I'm communicating with the Gods.

    Granted, much of this frustration may have been compounded by my attempting to master reading in a second language, French of course as can probably be gleaned from my reading list.

    For the record, I don't find reading Moby Dick in English any easier than reading Madame Bovary or Balzac in the original French.
    Last edited by mande2013; 10-28-2018 at 01:14 PM.

  2. #2
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    Oct 2006
    You sound like a young person, probably female. Stop forcing yourself to read the supposed canon. Read what you like instead. And if that doesn't work take up gardening or cooking or something.

  3. #3
    Ecurb Ecurb's Avatar
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    Jan 2007
    Eugene, OR
    Quote Originally Posted by ennison View Post
    You sound like a young person, probably female.
    Huh? Yes, anyone posting on this forum is likely to be a "person". Few dogs, spiders (Charlotte?), or vampires participate, unfortunately. However, "female" persons are generally called "women" or "girls".

  4. #4
    Registered User tailor STATELY's Avatar
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    May 2009
    Gold Country
    I'm also trying to work on a second language by reading, and listening (at the same time), The Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ in French with at best fair results so far - although I have studied French in school in the past. As an English, well, American speaker/reader, I keep telling myself that French should be more intuitive than say Italian which is another language I'd like to work on in the same romantic family of languages. If you come up with a working system let us know by posting again

    Good luck in your endeavor.

    Ta ! (short for tarradiddle),
    tailor STATELY

    who am I but a stitch in time
    what if I were to bare my soul
    would you see me origami


  5. #5
    On the road, but not! Danik 2016's Avatar
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    Jan 2016
    Beyond nowhere
    I found some links for learning French that might interest:

    Just saved your wonderfull Finish translation on Word, tS, while that action is still possible. Bet you´re the sole Finish translator, who doesn´t speak Finish.
    "You can always find something better than death."
    Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm, The Bremen Town Musicians

  6. #6
    Liberate Babyguile's Avatar
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    Feb 2006
    Well then you're not a reader. Go and find another hobby. There's plenty more to choose from.
    'Anger's my meat; I sup upon myself,
    And so shall starve with feeding.'
    Volumnia in Coriolanus

  7. #7
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    Jul 2018
    If it feels like drudgery, try choosing the one you like the most and forcing yourself to finish it no matter what. You could even read as little as 10 pages or so per day. After the task is done, you'll probably gain more self-confidence. You'll maybe learn a thing or two from the book itself. Then, start another book. And so on and so forth.

    As for reading in French, make an attempt to read shorter works. I recommend "Le petit prince," but maybe it's too easy for you. Or you could read De Maupassant or Merimée. Reading short stories is less overwhelming than tackling a whole novel.

  8. #8
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    Jan 2017
    I agree. There's no reason for you to quit reading. It is already one of your hobbies. Relax and enjoy. Then your brain will do amazing things without a single ounce of effort.

  9. #9
    Relax and enjoy.

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