Reading great books is like running. (This alone is ironic, since it’s reading great books that so often keeps me from running.)
There are several stages. First: The Warm-up. For runners, this means checking your shoes, hydrating, stretching, setting up a playlist. For readers, this is where we get comfortable, grab a drink and snacks, meticulously arrange everything to avoid opening the book for as long as possible, then take a deep breath.
Next stage: The First Wind. This is the first period of the run where everything feels right. You breath deeply, take in the sights, and enjoy it all. This is when the readers are eager, minds open to the possibilities, looking carefully for the subtleties of the text.
Third stage: The Grind. You’ve been running for a while now (if you’re me, about 5 minutes). Your muscles ache, your lungs are dry, and you can’t seem to move forward easily anymore. You just want to walk. As a reader, your eyes can’t seem to focus, you’re reading the same parts over and over again you’re reading the same parts over and over again, and they’re not making any more sense. You just want to stop.
Fourth stage: The Second Wind. Once you push through the grind, you’ll soon be running strong again. You are determined; the thought of how healthy this is for you keeps you going. You’re reading faster again, and only slowing occasionally. You’re nearly there.
Last: The Final Lap. The end is in sight. Only one more block. Only twenty more pages. Fifteen. Ten. Five. Two. One. You reach the end with a final burst of exultant speed. You gratefully slow to a walk and breath deeply. You shut the book with a satisfying thump. You did it.