5 Books You Can’t (Or Won’t) Read In One Shot

A recent New Yorker article about Lydia Davis offered some insight into the world of short fiction. And, especially the common mistake of using the mixed metaphor. Great article too and believe Davis’s book of short stories might be too difficult to read page by page, one to 702. Davis seems to be a truly fascinating person and the excerpts of her stories were excellent.

To me, some books are like CDs that require skipping to get to the songs you enjoy. Others are more like vinyl records where trying to find the exact place to put the needle requires experience and dedication. Unless you’re an editor at a publishing house or a reader-purest, there are many books that are simply just not read straight through. Especially in a world where the internet has turned our attention spans into shattered glass, here are a few of my favorites not in any particular order.

1. The Bible

Even in CCD class, the instructor would always start with Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. We studied Genesis and Exodus, and to really put fear into our hearts, we read Revelation. In fact, I believe I read Revelation before the gospels. It’s like my friend who used to be obsessed with reading the last line of every book she started, just to get an idea of how the story would go. Although allegorical, Revelation is the great revealing of what our fate is on this Earth, which still scares me half to death. The best book of the Bible must be Job though because that’s when you know that even if you do the right thing, you might be in for more pain and suffering. I’m hazy on all the other books.

2. The Joy of Cooking

I’d see it on the kitchen counter growing up, next to other cook books and utensils. It was a relic from the 60s or earlier and always had bookmarks and stained pages. The binding was loosely bound then and I recently saw it, and the pages still somehow manage to stay together. Most of the time, chefs and sous-chefs, moms and dads and anyone else who like to cook will skip to the recipes that they most enjoy. It would probably make sense to read it straight through I’d think. That way you might have a better grasp of how certain dishes require similar ingredients. In theory.

3. 50 Shades of Grey

Not possible. I mean I’ve never read this book, but I imagine it would be difficult not to jump to the juicy parts in favor of flesh and fantasy over story and structure. In the same way, I read Gremlins 2: The New Batch when I was 11 for a book report, and always skipped to the horror scenes and pretty sure I didn’t have a clue as to what Billy and Katie were up to.

4. United States Army Field Manuals

I saw one of these manuals at Barnes & Noble the other month and I got really excited. For a nanosecond, I had the impulse that told me the bookseller had these against the Army’s will. But why were they in the clearance section? And then it dawned on me that of course these are public because people need to prepare before going into the military. Right? I flipped to the guns and explosive sections first, obviously, and from then on sitting in the corner of the shop, there was no way I could start from the beginning.

5. Test Prep Books

When I studied for the GRE and SAT, I would do some of the exercises but wouldn’t even touch the enrichment parts or read the background. I’m more studious now. It would be a lie to say that the most crucial element of these books is the problem set; it’s really all about the tests themselves. In fact, it’s normal to skip around on the tests as well. Most of this is done online now anyway. TC mark

featured image – Flickr / Jemimus

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