How are you finding it? I’ve always found it a bit dull.
I’ve read it before and I loved it (I haven’t actually started it yet). Now, Frankenstein is my horror slog-fest. I could not get through it.
Dracula himself isn’t a very complex character. At best, he’s a plot device.
I don’t mind Frankenstein but it’s not something I’d rush to read again.
Random fact: the castle that most likely gave Stoker inspiration for the story is in my neck of the woods.
I’ve got a nice edition of Dracula somewhere with Jae Lee illustrations. They suit the story well.
I liked both Dracula and Frankenstein but it’s been years since I last read either of them. I remember both as being fairly atmospheric but also fairly simple reads.
Right with you. Much prefer the soon-to-be-finished-by-Kelley-Jones Berni Wrightson adaptation. But wow! Stodgy! Dracula, OTOH, I love, It’s rather three stories, the Dracula’s Guest prologue, Harker at the castle, and the main story. There’s lots of very subtle Catholic references (remember England was Anglican), mostly with Van Helsing.
When Van Helsing gets a “dispensation”, it’s a huge huge deal.
What I like most is Dracula is mostly a story of love and friendship, and how hard it is to stand when the world throws its worst at you.
And I now have a tremendous craving for garlic bread and paprika chicken.
There was a HC a few years ago with Becky Cloonan illustrations too:
You can fix this.
I’ve had a similar problem and i was really worried and quite upset about it so I made a really hard effort and I’m so glad I did because my attention span at work has also improved and I’m back to picking up complex tasks and concepts quickly and I can focus a lot better.
I stopped using twitter and cut back my internet to bare usage, just when I want to check stuff out.
I’ve gradually reduced time spent on my phone and I now force myself to focus my attention entirely on what I’m watching, I will never stop reading a comic to pick up my phone unless I need to look up a word or something, same with a book.
But most of all I found meditating has improved my focus and attention span, it took months but it was a gradual improvement and I’m a lot better now.
My mind is always going 100 mph and my focus wavers a lot.
I’m now deliberately focusing on tasks like paying attention when I’m cooking, thinking about my body when I’m exercising and if people talk to me, especially my kids I try and really listen to what they are saying and make sure I respond, because I was really bad for not really being present and i realised I was basically being a rude bastard and also not giving my kids the attention they want and need and that really upset me when it dawned on me.
So it’s definitely fixable.
However I still feel there’s a long way to go and I’m still working on it, but I Just wanted to say that if it’s bothering you then fret not you can reverse the damage.
Another reason to hate Tweeter. I’m with you, Chris. I manage my input as well as I can. If I don’t get a couple of hours of music, I get edgy. Things like that.
I’ve always been mindful of what I’m doing and perceiving. Meditation, psych school, life - all have reinforced and sharpened that.
One point. Are we acting or RE- acting? Are we in motion, or responding to the motion of another? Are we the Object At Rest or the Object In Motion? I find that a good was to assess my usage of lifespan.
Thanks, Chris! All the problems you’ve described are exactly what I’ve been noticing in myself. You give me hope.
I’ve tried meditation in the past and always got too frustrated to stick with it, but I’ve been thinking about giving it another go. My wife does it and it helps her a lot.
The mediation thing has helped me enormously and I have a friend who is now like a completely different person after doing it every day for a year. He’s even shed things like social anxiety and stuff that I never even realised he had a problem with until I noticed the other stuff then it all kind of pieced together and I realised that if we were ever going out he’d always make sure you were in the pub first before leaving to go there, so he wouldn’t have to go in alone and order a drink at the bar things like that - he surprised me a few weeks ago by being 15 mins early sitting with a pint when I walked in and looking relaxed and happy. It made me so happy for him to see that change.
I found the mediation to be something that I had to be really strict with in terms of fitting it in.
I’ve been using an app for a year and a half called Headspace, you may have heard of it.
And I just do 10 mins a day to make it easy to fit in to my life.
I waver from it from time to time so it’s just a case of getting back on track when I do and I feel a lot of the exercise la have helped with the focus and attention span.
It’s a subscription app, and it was actually recommended to me by my doctor when I was having some anxiety problems, but I think there are others out there now that will be free or cheaper.
I’m happy to talk further about this some other time if it helps. I’m sure you’ll find something that helps, good luck and let us know how you get on.
I had thought I was past reading books with the way things have gone the last few years have gone, can be hard to find the time. It’s not that I haven’t read a handful of series, I have but nowhere near wht I was doing say, a decade ago. If you do find the time will you be able to pick it up again without having forgot what was going on? All issues to factor in.
Yet, recently, as evidenced by the reviews, I’ve been hooked on John Gwynne’s fantasy work and am now on the last book of the series, having ploughed through about 2000 prior pages across three books. In the process I’ve been reminded of why I enjoy serial fiction so much, introduction, character development, the pieces layering atop each other in an ever more complex pattern. (A large part of why I like the Malazan books is it has this sense of a story that the full scope of which is always just out of reach. The comics equivalent is the Mignolverse)
If you’re going to get back into reading, don’t have the PS4 or TV on, it’ll draw the eye away. Don’t have the mobile active or a computer screen. Don’t think you have to do a marathon session - quality and enjoyment over quantity and feeling it’s a chore. If the latter feeling arises, however, it could be that the book’s crap or badly paced - a book that you go through quick, without realising you’re doing so and then don’t want to hit the end of - that’s the mark of a good one
You guys are making so much sense, and it sounds like we’ve been struggling with a lot of the same issues.
Headspace sounds great. I think some of my friends use it, or something similar. 2017 was sort of the “Year of David Lynch” for me, with Twin Peaks encouraging me to rewatch most of his work and read his interviews and writing, and he’s a big proponent of Transcendental Meditation and meditation in general. It’s something I’ve been thinking about and a meditation app sounds like just what I need.
And Ben, what you say about reading feeling like a chore–that is so spot on. I often feel like I have to read a given book or comic, often because it’s been really well received or is considered a classic. I need to be better about letting myself drop stuff that’s not grabbing me without feeling guilty. Sometimes slogging through a dull segment is worth it but a lot of times I just do it because my brain’s wired to be a completist. I end up missing out on time I could be reading something that pulls me into its world and reminds me of why reading was my first love.
I’d definitely give meditation a try, Will. Try simple attention or mindfulness meditation, like focusing on breath or body parts,
or objectless meditation, like is used in zen.
It definitely works in keeping the mind from drifting. It sort of gives you an insight in what your “distractions” are and gives you power over them, meaning you’re not led astray all the time. It could be worth it getting a real teacher rather than trying to teach it to yourself over the internet. Zen and Theravada teachers are usually quite down to earth. Tibetan can have a more religious flavour, but can also offer excellent meditation guidance.
On youtube, Ajahn Brahm offers excellent advice:
But again internet can be part of the problem and there is no substitute for a real life teacher.
Ben’s advice here seems pretty spot on. I’ve found a similar path to getting back into reading books more and it was for me three steps.
I started drinking less. Maybe it’s similar to the meditation advice but drinking less has cleared my mind a bit and I’m no longer falling into bed and half-reading a comic at night.
I make sure to read from a book before looking at a screen every morning. This has made life somewhat more pleasurable. I read about 10 pages in the morning before touching a phone, tablet, iPad. In addition to starting off the day with something enriching instead of angry takes on shit news, it puts my head in a calm, thoughtful place and also knocks off 70-100 pages of a book a week.
This is what Ben suggested and is key: I stopped reading stuff that doesn’t interest me. I figured out that most of what I like is nonfiction about pop culture and the arts, or fiction from like 1940-1970, and that’s what I read. It’s a little weird and there are exceptions, but it’s what I love and if you’re reading what you love then that goes a long way. I’ve given up feeling obligated to read stuff that I don’t genuinely want to (with the one exception of gifts).
I finished The Sellout, which was great.
Have now started on This Book Is Full of Spiders, which was next on the to-read pile.
(I do read less than I used to, but that’s just because there’s too many other things vying for my attention - I am trying to get back to finding more time.)
The Faithful and the Fallen: Book 4: Wrath
And so it was.
There were numerous very satisfying fates for the rogues gallery Gwynne had established in this book, from the highest of them to the lowest. Everyone got theirs. Although, in some cases, not without taking a few other characters with them, which might be Gwynne’s biggest win here - balancing out the newer, grimmer aspects of the fantasy genre with the older, more traditional ones to create a new fusion of both. Unlike say, Malazan and Erikson / Esselmont, who’s work I enjoy but I resist emotionally investing in characters, Gwynne hooked me time and again and kept me so, regardless of how many characters he offed, quite the trick.
The entire series demonstrated it, but here the idea of good and evil not simply being one of perspective, no matter how muddled matters may become, once more came to the fore. Nathair being a case in point, he just can’t let go of his ego, despite knowing it has damned him, despite knowing he chose this, still he refuses to really recognise where he has ended up. Jael’s story was quite, quite delicious in its resolution, but got topped by Lykos’ fate - both truly merited their ends. Nor does it stop there - Gwynne understands that if villains get to carve a bloody swath through a world for the sake of story, so too must there be bloody retribution permitted to the heroes - and they really do get to do that here.
In that respect, Gwynne deserved the Gemmell newcomer award he got for the first book of this series, Malice, and the nominations he got for the subsequent books, for Gemmell wasn’t shy on doling retribution out in his books either.
I’ll be looking forward to reading his next series, once the last book is out. Reading all four books of this quartet was superb fun, waiting a year between each? Wouldn’t have been! So I’ll wait - I’ve plenty of other series to read and might actually get to them now after this success.
I’m at the halfway point of two books right now: my commuting book is Paul Bowles’ The Sheltering Sky, while my bedside book is Grim Death and Bill the Electrocuted Criminal by Mike Mignola and Tom Sniegoski.