Monday, August 20, 2007

Savoring Books

From Merriam-Webster's website, I find that a definition for savor is:

2a :
to have experience of :TASTE b : to taste or smell with pleasure : RELISH c : to delight in : ENJOY

I've enjoyed reading for many years. Sometimes I read just to finish a book, though. "Well, it was a gift, I should read it." "It has been at the top of the bestseller's list for 2 months. I should read it." "So-and-so said that it was a must read. I should read it." That shouldn't be the reason to read. I'm trying to learn to put a book down when it isn't worth reading. I should have learned that before. Richard Grindal's Tartan Conspiracy comes to mind, as does Thomas Hoving's Masterpiece. Thomas Hoving has written some very nice books, but Masterpiece is not one of them.

Today I finished reading Malba Tahan's The Man Who Counted. What wonderful story telling. "Details are story-material," a friend recently said. There are fantastic details in this book. Not details like in Umberto Eco's The Name of the Rose (the description of the cathedral door was overkill), but details that flesh out the story. That make it a fun read. That make you want to savor it.

Malba Tahan's book is very readable. No, it isn't only a math book, but you get a lot of math in it. If you like number puzzles, then this is for you. You've heard some of them before. And others are fresh, even though they were written many years ago. The book is so readable, I might have been able to read it at one sitting, had I not been sick this past week and fallen asleep with it in my hands. I'm glad it took me the whole week. I was able to savor it.

Instead of reading the next few books that I've selected for myself I'm going to try to read chapters of old book 'friends.' I've started to read the chapter about Tom Bombadil from Tolkien's The Fellowship of the Ring. I want to read essays by Mark Twain. Not a whole book of them, just some. I want to read some short stories by O. Henry, particularly The Ransom of Red-Chief. My father-in-law loves it. I've heard him retell the story 3 or 4 times. But I've never read it. I want to read the poetry of John Donne. To enjoy it.

Right now, I'm going to be finishing Walter Wangerin, Jr.'s The Book of God. I just finished the part where King Solomon dies and then it goes into the Prophets. I reread the first few pages of the book tonight. Good details. Good storytelling. I'll be savoring that one for a while.


Jenn said...


I've been avoiding the computer this week! I will get The Cay out ASAP!

Donna said...

Wow - to read this entry the same day that the Chicago Tribune reports that only 1 out of 4 adults reads anything at all is pretty amazing. The whole metacognitive approach to what you have read and want to read is fabulous. You are an admirable model of life-long learning. And let me know how you make out with John Donne!