Social media helps us chronicle the passage of time so that, unless we journal or keep a detailed calendar, we might not have noticed the comings and goings of some things in our lives. Not that these things are insignificant, but often, chronicling the waxing and waning of certain events happens haphazardly if at all.
Specifically, I’m talking about when we start and finish a book. Years ago I signed up for GoodReads, an online book club of sorts where you can tell all your friends what books you’re reading which ones you want to read, and which ones you’ve finished. (And many of us, upon creating our profiles, front-loaded our profiles. Of course I read Uncle Tom’s Cabin. In fact, I’ll write a review about it [probably with the same level of analysis from when I read it the first time, seventeen years ago.])
Basically, GoodReads keeps track of when you pick up a book and when you finish it. Like this book I completed last month and can display actively for my book project:
Cuba: From Columbus to Castro and Beyond by Jamie Suchlicki. I started reading this bed book* May of 2011 and I just finished it May 2012. My proclivity towards literary snobbery forces me to note that of course I’ve read lots of other things in the meantime.
Don’t be silly.
I think 2012 has been a slow reading year.
Technically though, because I lost my copy of A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again by DFW (during a crazy New Year’s Eve trip with some great people) and had to read the remaining story via PDF, and therefore could not visually display it as the first book of 2012 I finished, I am displaying Cuba…in the second quarter of 2012. Yes.
Cuba almost killed me. Clearly. How many nights, with only 50 pages left, did I just read 2-3 pages even, determined to finish, thinking back to when I was first learning about the native inhabitants of Cuba…so long ago it seemed. It wasn’t that the book was boring at this point–Castro’s dictatorship. Contrarily**, it was a great insight into the motivations of Castro that I’d never read about before. This new knowledge allowed me to talk to my workout buddy about the status of Cuba’s foreign policy and tenuous global position (especially after the fall of the Soviet Union, I tell you what…the book is a bit outdated) and I could just feel the Cuban knowledge seep into my medium-term memory. Hey, some nights, for lots of reasons, you only read 2-3 pages of a book.
* Really long (but utterly fascinating) blog post I wrote about Bed Books.
**I find that word kinda annoying I think. Contrarily.