Man Booker Preparation

I’ve listened to a little Boulez today – last night’s Radio 3 broadcast of an Edinburgh International Festival recorded in August. Boulez used to seem incomprehensible. Now his language feels like a destination – an escape.

I’m hoping for the same with the Man Booker Shortlist. I wanted to feel enriched. I’m poised. Ready. Hungry.

I might be on leave, but for various reasons (let’s put it down to procrastination) I’ve let household chores and general pottering get in the way of getting some heavy-duty reading done. I might have an appetite for this, but I seem to be struggling to get started.

The heat didn’t help. I don’t think it’s possible to get into your reading groove if the air temperature is nudging 32 degrees. I’ve never successfully read on the beach, preferring instead sitting underneath a tree in the shade. There’s needs to be a cool breeze too. Late afternoon/early evening ideally.

That’s not a digression. One of the reasons for embarking on this was to understand what some of the blocks are to reading. Once you’ve identified those blocks and worked around them, how long does it take to read a book? How does reading fit in with the the rest of your day? How can you maintain stamina and maximise comprehension? And once you’ve answered all of those questions, is there any enjoyment left in reading the Man Booker List shortlist in under six weeks?

I want to see if there’s anything I can learn from reading intensively for six weeks that might provide some insights into how new audiences approach classical music. Are the distractions the same? Is there a similar level of impatience? How is it that books appear to remain a vital force? I don’t hear people bleating on about how there aren’t enough readers buying books. Is that because no-one’s worried about the state of reading?

At the same time as learning something about writing, I want to document how I respond to the reading process. I’ve spent most of my adult life thinking that I should be reading more but I’ve never felt I’ve had the time; never thought I was an effective reader either.

So, I’ve taken a very pragmatic approach to all of this. I’ve used my Kindle to work out how many pages I have to read in total and how long it will take me to complete the process.

According to my maths that’s a total of 3.5K pages in 38hrs and 14 mins.

I estimate I can read for 10hrs from today until I go back to work on Tuesday. After that it’s an hour and a half every day during the week and 8hrs at the weekend. I should have the whole lot done in two and a half weeks.

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