I’m a fast reader. On nights when I just want to relax, there’s nothing better than curling up with a good book, and it’s not impossible for me to get through two or three. Speed is definitely not something I intentionally aim for, but there’s a rhythm that develops while I’m flipping pages or tapping a screen. And if it’s a book that I’m totally engrossed in? Then it’s a race to the ending.
And yet there’s one book that I still haven’t finished after five years.
One Long Read
Though their influence has somewhat lessened in recent years, at one point, the Chief Theatre Critic for The New York Times often had the ability to make or break a Broadway show. It’s partially why Frank Rich, who served in the post from 1980 to 1993, earned the nickname “the Butcher of Broadway” from British media. His gushing praise of works like Tony Kusher’s epic Angels in America helped propel it into a successful run, but his scathing disdain for the musical adaptation of the Stephen King’s Carrie dropped it into obscurity with cult status.
Compelling theatre criticism is an art form in its own right, and Rich’s reviews and analyses represent over a decade’s worth of absorbing Broadway archives. His 1983 review of the laughably atrocious Moose Murders provides an immeasurably important preservation of an otherwise forgotten show with such lines as, “I won’t soon forget the spectacle of watching the mummified Sidney rise from his wheelchair to kick an intruder, unaccountably dressed in a moose costume, in the groin.” Fortunately, a full collection of articles from his thirteen year reign were compiled in Hot Seat. It’s a fascinating compendium that chronicles the trajectory of Broadway during a major time of flux by simply providing the contemporary thoughts of someone writing about it every week.
So now I have to seemingly contradict all these good words for Rich by admitting I bought his book around five years ago and still haven’t finished it. That’s not to suggest his work is a slog when presented together— not in the slightest. Somehow, every review provides a new nugget of theatre information while showcasing his crisp, effortless prose. But they are reviews, and it’s easy to read one and put it down for a few weeks — or months even — without worrying about where I left off. When I do pick it back up, It’s like a quick reading palate cleanser. And at over 1,000 pages, I’ve been able to turn to it again and again.
What about you? What’s the longest it’s taken you to finish a book?
Fortunately for all involved, I’m a lot better about reading my review obligations in a timely manner. That’s especially good considering Bookouture has been publishing so many tempting titles lately. They’ve quickly risen as one of my favorite publishers, so it’s no surprise that they account for four of my five approvals this week.
You might notice a theme in what I snagged from NetGalley:
- The Arrangement by Robyn Harding
- Good Little Liars by Sarah Clutton
- The Night Caller by J.M. Hewitt
- Perfect Stranger by Jake Cross
- Silent Night by Geraldine Hogan
Reading About Books
If you’re not reading a book, the next best thing is reading about books. Here’s a selection of bookish news and essays I enjoyed this week:
- Broadway.com has an exclusive sneak peek at A is for Audra, a new picture book about some of Broadway’s leading ladies.
- Author Katherine Rundell explores five children’s books that adults should read.
What’s going on with your reading this week? And what’s the longest it’s ever taken you to read a book? Have you ever put off finishing a book for whatever reason? Feel free to talk about it in the comments below!
That’s that— the State of the Stacks.