First World Reading Problems Vol. 2: The DEARsaster

on Tuesday, August 27, 2013
DEARsaster (n): Existential angst and anxiety caused by the surprise release of a new book by one of your favourite authors whilst in the middle of a long and/or dense book you are really enjoying.

So I'm taking my usual Monday mid-morning procrastination stroll through a local bookstore when KABLAM!!! I'm blindsided by the new Margaret Atwood novel MADDADDAM. I knew it was coming out sometime soon - September? Christmas? 2017? - but it never really occurred to me that she'd catch me so very unawares. It's as if the genetically modified pig on the cover flew it express onto the bookshelves just to screw with my perfectly ordered reading life. Now I can't say I was the greatest fan of the first two parts of her post-Apocalyptic trilogy (Oryx & Crake and The Year of the Flood), but c'mon... she is, to paraphrase Samuel L. Jackson, Margaret Friggin' Atwood, a true living legend whose body of incredibly varied work has landed her firmly on the Drop Everything And Read list. What's more, MADDADDAM is in hardcover! That's like book crack for me! True to form, I do the sensible thing any addict would do - despite having it on order from overseas, I pick it up here. Support the local book trade, yadda yadda yadda (Read: major delayed gratification fail).

One problem. I'm midway through a debut novel that I am thoroughly enjoying but that, despite only being 300 pages long, is taking me an inordinate amount of time to finish. Usually I'd polish something that length off in one to two days tops. La Vida Doble by Arturo Fontaine, however, is different. It demands to be savoured, which is precisely what I've been doing for the past week. I'm not going to give much away until I'm done and have some time to properly digest it, save only to say that it's one of the best novels of Chile's Dirty War that I've ever read (I seem to be saying that a lot lately).

So here's the dilemma, and the very essence of the DEARsaster: Do I put down a book I'm loving for an author I've sworn to drop everything to read?

I suppose there's an easy solution in trying to read the two simultaneously. I'm often reading two, three, even four books at once. In this case, however, I can't help but feel it would be an injustice to both if I tried (plus, I'm technically already reading the first volume of the Javier Marias trilogy and the collected short stories of Terry Pratchett). The absurdist in me can't help wanting to try the left-brain/right-brain challenge and literally read both at the same time; one in each hand, one eye on each book. Tempting. Or I could run around in circles as if this is the most ginormously catastrophic problem in the world right now. Clearly I have chosen option three.

As you can tell, I don't profess to have the answer but God knows I need one soon. My poor little legs have grown accustomed to my sedentary life. Please... please don't make me run anymore.


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