Thursday, October 07, 2010

Quality Time with George Washington

I plan to do some extra reading over the next two nights - finishing up Ron Chernow's massive and remarkable George Washington biography - but I wanted to stop by here first to deal with recent comments and to read a few new posts from my blog links.  The Washington biography is a challenge in more ways than one, but it has proven to be well worth the effort it requires of the reader.  This chunkster clocks in at 817 pages of text and an additional 52 pages of preface, footnotes and bibliography - and just lugging it around is a challenge since it weighs in at exactly three pounds (I checked it on my bathroom scale).

My natural pace for reading nonfiction, especially history and biography, is about 50% slower than the speed at which I read novels and short stories.  I've always been that way because I unconsciously try to absorb every fact included in nonfiction.  I find myself reading the same way I did in college and I really have to fight the inclination to grab one of those obnoxiously-colored highlighters and start flailing away at the pages.  Slowing down this way does keep my mind from wandering, a distinct advantage, but it takes me a long time to read an 817-page biography at this pace.  I estimate that I will have spent very close to 24 hours of actual reading time on George Washington.  Do I regret it?  Not for a second.  This, for me, is the definitive Washington biography and, after reading it, I know I will never look at the man the same.

Hey,I see that it's already time for the Dewey's October 24-hour read-a-thon.  An amazing 367 people have already signed up for this Saturday's event, a number that makes me smile despite my own reluctance to give it another shot.  I participated about two years ago and was a miserable flop at it, lasting only 12 or 13 hours before falling asleep and missing the rest of the fun.  The event begins at 7:00 a.m. on Saturday morning (Houston time) and runs until the same time on Sunday morning.  The read-a-thon is held twice a year now and it seems to get bigger and bigger each time out.  Dewey, I suspect, would be very surprised to learn that her brainchild is doing so well - and, rightfully, very proud that so many of her friends honor her memory this way.  Dewey was a special lady in the book blogging community and she is truly missed.  I have several obligations on Saturday morning but I do hope to stop by to see how things are going...and maybe even to get in some extra reading.

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