It is a long time since I read a whole book, from start to finish, in one day. The last time I did it was in Palawan, last May. Since then while I have read four technical books, I have not finished a work of fiction. I am still reading "Welcome to Nightvale" and Quicksilver.
They are both great books, so far. Still, for whatever reason I have not been able to "dig in" and get through either of them. In fact I have been reading Quicksilver on and off for about three years by this point.
This morning I picked up the copy of "Ready Player One" that I bought last weekend. I have heard many people speak well of the book. That, and I wanted to have read it before the forthcoming Spielberg film version. I thought to myself "I will just read the first fifty pages...", and then I started to read.
By half-past four in the afternoon, I had devoured and enjoyed the first half of the book. Then it was time to go out with the kids for their promised treat.
Even though I was enjoying the book, I was able, happy even, to put it out of my mind and enjoy the time with my family. While I stood under the shower I did wonder if I would be thinking about it the whole time we were out. In an odd turn of events that did not happen. In a weird turn of events, I was able to log out of "Ready Player One" and focus on the real life right in front of me.
We came home, got the kids to bed, as ever. We watched The Apprentice - something that my wife and I have done together, despite my half-hearted complaining, since before we married. We laughed and joked with one another about the hapless idiots on the show and Lord Sugar's awful puns. Once again despite the marathon reading session from before, I was completely in that moment.
When she turned in for the night and I looked across at the book. I thought to myself, "perhaps a couple of chapters?". Now here I am, at ten to two in the morning, blogging about finishing the book.
I would not describe "Ready Player One" as anything less than a great novel. I am certain that there will be many people who would disagree with me, but I do not care. I have a literature degree, I have read "the classics". I have read obscure novels that people pretend to have read. I have read Shakespeare and Milton and Chaucer. I am comfortable that I possess the relevant knowledge, scholarship and experience to hand out "great novel" if I see fit. For one thing it does not affect anyone else's opinion on the matter. I no longer care a great deal for the opinion of people who would be unpleasant about disagreeing with me. I suppose we will see.
I would like to say that I have a complicated and nuanced analysis of the book to back up my claim. It has got a lot more to do with the awe I am in that Mr. Cline managed to write his first novel so well that I read it in a day. Novels exist to do three things. To tell a story. To engage their reader. To allow the author to convey something that goes beyond the narrative. Ernest Cline, I take my hat off to you, Sir; check, check and check.
I am filled with admiration, but also excitement. The inspiration I feel is intoxicating. The renewed desire I have to find a way to have several more hours in each day is greater than ever. Once more, amongst the list of things I wish to spend my time doing, I know that I need to spend more time reading.