Coast Modern’s singles, Mitski’s Puberty 2, Hinds’s Leave Me Alone
Man Repeller by Leandra Medine
some home office inspiration over at Glitter Guide / this Flavorwire article on, arguably, the most important punctuation mark of all / incredible digitally-constructed portraits by artist Zhang Wei / Vanessa Friedman’s tribute to the late, great photographer Bill Cunningham / an interview I conducted for SOMA Magazine with Adrian Cheng, business mogul and founder of the high-end lifestyle brand K11
I’ve always thought of myself as a monogamous reader. I prefer to read one book at a time so that I can focus all of my attention on it. Recently, however, I’ve found myself in the middle of multiple novels. Uninvested in one, I pick up another, read a hundred or so pages, get bored, and the cycle continues. Whether this is due to the books’ content or to my own listlessness, I’m not sure. Whatever the reason, I’ve pondered permanently shelving some of them to search for more stimulating reads. This is a logical solution. It’s also one to which I’m deeply opposed.
I’m reminded of my senior year of high school, when I was perhaps fifty pages into One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest before I decided that I hated it. I hated the story. I hated the characters. I hated the pacing. It was required reading for a class, but I deemed it so dull that I chose to abandon it. On discussion day, my teacher asked everyone what they’d thought of the book. I proudly asserted that I had hated it so much that I hadn’t finished.
If my teacher’s look of dismay wasn’t bad enough, one of my classmates quickly asked how I could have a fully-formed opinion of the book if I hadn’t finished. My face reddened. Of course, he was right; because I hadn’t completed the book, I couldn’t contribute to the conversation, and didn’t. I didn’t even know how it ended (I hated it so much I didn’t even bother to Google a summary). I sat there, embarrassed by my prior defiance, and vowed that I would finish every book I ever started so that I could justify my thoughts and feelings about it.
I haven’t always kept this vow; unfortunately, there have been times in college when I hated a book so much that I didn’t finish it (sorry, Mansfield Park). When I read in my spare time, though, I try to power through. I want to consider all the bits and pieces of a work before passing judgment.
In the last few days of my undergraduate career, one of my professors talked about a similar feeling he’d had after graduating. He said that he’d felt obligated to finish books that he started, but a friend had reminded him that he wasn’t in college anymore. He could ignore the fear of being unprepared for an imminent class discussion that would never come.
Even though he was, in a way, giving me permission to break away from obligation, I knew that I would still come to the opposite conclusion. If I want to comment on a book, I feel I owe it to the author to consider the text as a whole, to give it my undivided attention, respect, and thoughtfulness. After turning the last page, I may still decide that the book is garbage, but at least I’ll be able to hate it for all the right reasons.
PS: I’m flexing my creative muscles and bringing my own digital collages (in this case, part real collage and part digital) to Monday Mood. Enjoy!