Each book in its time

If you had told me, twelve years ago, that I would now take a stroll Night circusI would definitely laugh. Maybe even smell it. It was one of those books that everyone was reading at the time, and now it seems to be one of those books that everyone has been reading. I’ve been carrying a copy around for so long that I don’t even have the faintest memory of where I got it from; Just this week, when I finally opened it up, I discovered it was signed by someone else.

Everything about this specific version of this book is a mystery to me, including why I haven’t read it yet. So I started, last night, and I was four or five chapters in before I looked up to realize it was time for bed.

How does this happen? How is it that sometimes a book that is clearly intended for the reader takes so long to find them?

There is no answer to this question, of course. Books come to us when they come, and it’s either their time or not. It is very difficult to show exactly the perfect moment to read a particular book, although it can often be done. You can choose the right book for a trip, for a vacation, for a long weekend from doing little else; You can decide that you’ll drink the same cocktails as a character, eat your way through their meals, or do any number of things to show the story world around you. You can build the perfect moment, but you have to have an idea of ​​what it is. And you should have the time and inclination to design them, rather than take the moment you get them.

Books are still sometimes late. or early. Or just get out. Me and a friend were talking about it recently Secret history, a book I still haven’t read, but I’ve been meaning to read it for at least a decade. She said that most people she knew who read the book for the first time hated it hated it. (Did you take this as a challenge? Just a little bit.) As for those who read it at a younger age, they are excited. Another friend told me more than once that you should read Secret history In winter. Perhaps this cold, dark, dreary start to the year is exactly my time — or exactly the time of the book.

What I’ve come to find is that every book has its own time exactly, but that time varies from reader to reader. And it’s not finite or singular, not in most cases, anyway – and it’s not necessary. (Sometimes reading against the grain, the wrong book at the wrong time, is just right in its own weird way.) sometimes The only time it’s fun to read a book is when everyone else is reading it, when the feelings are joyful and shared, when you’re part of something bigger. sometimes There are books that you read once, at a specific moment, and you can never read them again — the emotions attached to them are too big, too heavy, too messy, too often to re-read them again.

But mostly, I think, you can find the right moment for a book. This is why I keep a list of books I haven’t finished. It’s not a forever breakup (except when it is). It’s just a break. I tried to read Victor Laval’s book and replace At the wrong moment I suffer through 100 pages, admiring the prose but feeling I can’t open the door to the heart of the book, and I put it aside. It wasn’t my time with this book, not yet. I started re-reading Shadow and bones, thinking that this time I will finish the series, but was seduced by the promise of something new. But I might still come back to Rafka later.

Timing is everything and timing is nothing; You never know what will land in your lap, or cross your feed, at any given moment. It took me nearly a year to read Alexander Che’s book How to write an autobiographical novelNot because I didn’t like it, but because once I started it, I knew I wasn’t ready for it to end. I moved it from one general spreadsheet to another, and it kept going, slow and steady. When you’re a speed reader, someone who wants to read everything, right now, right away, that’s something you enjoy—a book that insists on slowing down, living in its time rather than yours.

I know that not everyone is constantly thinking about what they read when and how it fits into the grand scheme of their reading lives, or into the assortment of everything else they’ve read before. But these patterns are there, they are all the same; The ones we skip or linger on, the ones that come back, years later, looking shiny in a whole new way. I think of it because I write about books, but I also think of it because I’m a magpie, always distracted by something new and shiny, and because I’m a specialist in many ways. I grew up still reading a mountain of SFF, but I went through phases: emotionally devastating YA novels; definite nonfiction about rituals or neighborhoods; literary fiction on the “Women Find Out Fudge or Not” bent; And my comfort food kind of books, like fairy tales rewritten and retold. If I don’t care, I can slip into a tiny oubliette of some design or another. And I want to keep moving and expanding the circle. Every book has its own time, but only if you’re looking for it in the first place.

I’m trying this year –attempt!– To switch old and new. Writing about books means there is always something new to read. But there is always something old for me to grasp—there are always books whose moment I might have thought slipped away from me but have not, or books I had never seen. or books like Night circuswho sat in front of me waiting.

What is the right time to read it before? What time is now?

Molly Templeton lives and writes in Oregon, and spends as much time in the woods as possible. Sometimes you talk about books Twitter.

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