Posted by: Sally Ingraham | April 7, 2010

Reading For the Fun of It

too many booksI did some quick figuring just now. I am reading three books – The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoevsky, Sodom and Gomorrah by Marcel Proust, and Life A Users Manuel by Georges Perec. Between these three books here are 1,858 pages. I intend to finish all of these books by the end of April. I have read about 310 pages of them. That leaves 1,548 pages. I have exactly three weeks left to finish them. Am I feeling overwhelmed right now? Erm…

Let’s add to this the fact that I am working full time already (I usually only do that in the height of summer!), and I am once again moving house. How can I even imagine a reality where I can finish these books in time??

Well actually, I’m feeling very relaxed about this situation. National Library Week has come to my rescue this month!

Back in January, when I had tons of free time and I was volunteering for close to 8 hours a week at Jesup Memorial Library, I helped the librarians come up with some ideas for how to celebrate National Library Week (April 11th-17th). I suggested doing a Reading Marathon of course! I explained a little bit about how they work in my experience, and then crossed my fingers and hoped that The Board would approve something. I was imagining perhaps an event that lasted a business day – the regular hours of operation of the library. Or perhaps even a 24 hour period, with the library magically staying open all night.

I had to go back to work soon after, my opportunities to volunteer diminished severely, and I lost touch with the planning situation for National Library Week. I was astonished and thrilled when I went to Jesup most recently, to pick up The Brothers K, and saw a little stack of papers at the desk that were proclaiming, “Jesup Library Open for Reading 24 hours/day April 13-17“. It’s a wild and crazy reading marathon, and it starts at 10 a.m. on Tuesday and goes straight through until 5 p.m. on Saturday – the library will be open non-stop as long as they have someone there reading – a potential 103 hours! Extra comfy chairs will be brought into the periodical room, coffee will be provided, and tidy snacks are allowed. There are no prizes, no fundraising, no records at stake – just a chance to read a little extra, for the fun of it.

Totally amazing. I am stoked. I plan to be there as much as possible (as much of all night as I can, while still getting a little sleep so that I can work the next day!!), and I am positive now that I will bust through the remaining 1,548 pages of my reading stash with no problem. 🙂

As if that excitement is not enough, in addition, Jesup is doing a program on blogging during NLW, and I’ve been invited to answer questions about how I got involved (obsessed?) and especially how I found my way into the book blogging world. If I have the opportunity to name names, do any of you, my friends and fellow bloggers, mind being mentioned?

A final word on those three fat books of mine: Loving the Perec, laughing at the Dostoevsky, and actually having a little bit of trouble with Proust… – but essentially having a blast with my reading choices for April!


  1. Those are some heavy-hitters you’re reading. Good luck! And congrats on the reading marathon!!!

    • Thanks Eva! I imagine you read over 1,000 pages every month! 🙂

  2. Glad you’re loving the Perec, Sarah! I’m digging both it and the Proust, but reading Perec is a sheer joy and reading Proust is like trying to follow a “difficult” foreign film at times. Two totally different speeds are required!

    • Haha, exactly! I’m glad you’re enjoying the Proust though – I’m impressed that you’re jumping in at the 4th volume, and since it’s the lease engaging in my opinion so far, it can only get better for you when you have a chance to start at the beginning. 🙂

  3. I’m with you. Reading the Dostoevsky alongside a big Ford Madox Ford novel, alongside this and that, sometimes feels like a mistake. As mistakes go, a pleasurable one. But still.

    • But still, indeed! This morning I woke up and decided that it would be just fine if the reading of these tomes tumbled a little bit into May! No need to stress overmuch about an activity that is totally voluntary!

  4. What a great thing to instigate-a reading marathon in a library. Good for you. I haven’t tackled those particular books, though I’ve read some Dostoevsky and Proust. I love meaty books. Enjoy.

    • I feel so acomplished when I finish a huge book, don’t you? And I really hope lots of other people are as excited about the library reading marathon as I am! While I don’t mind reading by myself, it will be great if there’s a big group.

  5. Ahhhhhhhh that is the most awesome idea I’ve ever seen a public service engage in. Make sure the library stays open all the time by popping in lots.

    • I know, my mind is still reeling from the awesomeness of it! I plan to try to be there every night. I usually stay up until midnight anyway, even when I work early the next morning, so I’ll just shift my cozy chair to the library next week. And it will be great to escape the temptation of the damn TV! 🙂

  6. Having a blast is what it’s all about! I hope you continue to smile at Dostoeyvsky as you go through…what a wonderful, ambitious list you have going for April!

    • Phew, thanks for the support Bellezza. Having the Dostoevsky broken up into chunks with their own little deadlines is really helpful. I’ve gotten the furthest in that one so far!

  7. I love the way Jesup is celebrating Library Week! What a fun idea! I love the idea of being in a space where everyone is reading!

    And good luck with all those books – after this lot, you deserve some short, quick reads! 😀

    • Don’t worry, I plan to read only books that are under 200 p. in May!! Unless something particularly enticing comes my way of course. 🙂

  8. Congrats on being part of getting such a fun event on the calendar, Sarah!

    I am having a similar April to you – reading Germinal in the original at the same time as the Perec is a challenge, and breaking my brain a little bit albeit in a very pleasurable way.

    • “Breaking my brain a little” indeed! Good stuff. Muscle building!

  9. LOL! I wish…!

  10. Sarah, I have been off the compuer for days and feeling so burnt out! I’m only 20+ pages in Sodom and Gomorrah! Not that I don’t like it, because I am enjoying, but that I feel so stressed over the deadline so might not be able to finish it along with you all. Hope you get to finish those 1,000+ pages!

    I loved The Brothers Karamazov, by the way. THe craziness and roughness of it was so appealing to me in the way Dickens appeals to me. 😀

    • Claire, please don’t stress about S&G!! Of the books I’m reading that is the one that I am most likely to not finish in time. Maybe you and I can discuss it at the end of May? Or we could ask Frances to push the deadline for everyone I suppose. I know she has as large a reading load this month as I do. I am only 60 pages into S&G anyway, so I would definitely be interested in giving myself more time. Thoughts?

      I do think The Brothers Karamazov reminds me of Dickens. I want to say that Dickens is the better writer, but he’s also an English writer. I’ve read so little Russian literature that I’m not sure what is typical of Russian writers from that time period. 🙂

  11. […] Previously: Reading for the Fun of It […]

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