In all of the relaxation I insisted on for my family over the New Year's day weekend, I finished the first book on my Half-Read Book List, The Hobbit. I was amazed to read on the back cover that it was published initially in the 1930's. I thought the story was fantastic and love the way Tolkien walks you through the story, painting clear images to make you feel like you are there and developing characters that are fantastic but somehow very real. At the end, some characters died, which surprised me since I obviously never read it to the end after several starts. I imagined the dwarves that died would continue into The Lord of the Rings, and after seeing the movies was really saddened when they died - it sounds crazy to say, but they were definitely my favorite dwarves - I wanted them to be present in the next stories.
Finishing reading a novel has not been an easy thing for me since I had my first child fourteen years ago. Before I became a mommy and since I was twelve, I read at least a novel a week. I loved the classics even when I was twelve, spending a summer reading only Steinbeck and Salinger. Since I had my first child, children's books read out loud to my kids and an occasional short story were about all I could finish, and after a few years were all that I even attempted.
Before my last child was born, I started reading again since my older kids were independent enough to give me time to myself and for myself. Being a mother of an infant or toddler does not leave time for reading for me - it's rare if I can finish one chapter at a time. That's not the way I like to read. If I can't finish one chapter without interruption, there's no chance of finishing the whole book. To complete my book list, however, I will need to be satisfied with reading two paragraphs at a time and picking up at the next, which is the only way I got through The Hobbit. I have a magnetic book mark that I place at the start of the paragraph - otherwise, I would read the same page over and over again and eventually give up.
My husband, however, has somehow managed to read several novels all the way through in the last few months - one this weekend. I don't know when he's doing it, but am certain he must be the best speed reader in all the world. I seriously cannot comprehend when he finds time to read.
When I told my husband I was on the last chapter of The Hobbit last night, he was as happy as I was. He enthusiastically suggested that I read one of the "Culture novels" by Iain Banks, the one he mysteriously read over the weekend front to back while I wasn't looking. I declined and am sticking to my list. The next book is Their Eyes Were Watching God. I remember it being a fast read in college and when I started it last spring. Maybe I can finish it by the end of the month.