Imagine all the people / Reading all the words.

2251394363_eee6855058I’ve heard the story before. I know how it ends. Yet something — curiosity, desire to learn, duty — drew me to the recent biography of John Lennon, John Lennon, by Philip Norman.

I’d already ingested Bob Spitz’s manic, intense, addictive The Beatles. Norman, who’s written on the Beatles and the Stones, Elton John and Buddy Holly, here focuses on just one of the Fabs — and takes 800 pages to do it.

The dream is over. Friends, the glaciers retreated faster from the Great Lakes into the Arctic than I’m getting through this book. John and Paul don’t have their famous first meeting until page 100.  John’s mum, Julia, died on page 145. I’m now on page 171, and I’m getting desperate.

I’ve read many books that have taken time to warm up to. But I need a strategy here, an approach, a philosophy of reading. My attention is flagging. Help! Good reader, tell me what to do! For some reason — the subject, the fact that I bought it on sale — I’m loathe to abandon the book. (If Mr. Norman could keep at it, why can’t I?)

Have you read the book? What did you think of it?  Can you give me any advice how to approach it?

If you haven’t read it, what’s your completely uninformed opinion?

Thanks in advance.



Filed under books, reading

5 responses to “Imagine all the people / Reading all the words.

  1. I haven’t read the book, but in keeping with my custom of weighing in on subjects about which I know little or nothing, here are my thoughts:

    1. Don’t try to read an 800-page book in one sitting.

    2. Try to overcome the compulsion to read every word, the conviction that unless you do, you haven’t really “read” the book. As difficult as it may be at first, skim paragraphs and skip the ones that aren’t going to tell you anything you don’t already know. *

    3. Familiarity breeds contempt. Overexposure leads to loss of interest. Put the book away, somewhere out of sight. Eventually, in all probability, you will find yourself thinking about John Lennon again; you will seek out that book and pick up where you left off. If this could be done with spouses, the divorce rate would plummet.

    * When I was a kid, a teacher (!) gave me this advice: When you have a lot of material to read and there isn’t enough time, just read the first and last sentences of every paragraph. It’s an appealing idea. Don’t fall for it.

  2. Thanks for the suggestions. I suppose it wouldn’t work to read just the first paragraph, like with newspaper articles.

    • Probably not. But I’ll bet reading the first paragraph and the last paragraph of a book gives a person enough to fake having read the whole thing. “You know, he says at the end that . . . .”

  3. Back in February I read Spitz’s Beatles book. But rather than reading it cover to cover, I thumbed through it each time I picked it up to see what chapter might interest me at that time. I read the entire book but in nothing close to chronological or page sequence/order.

    Try that with this book. Jumped around it.

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