One of the uncharacteristic features of my life for the last three weeks or so has been my inability to settle down to serious reading of a particular book. I've been reading Alasdair MacIntyre's After Virtue for quite some time yet I'm only round the halfway mark. Certainly it isn't a work that should be rushed, its various arguments being tightly, if cogently, argued and each step of the way demanding a certain reframing of perspectives. But still, despite the fascination of the ideas involved I've found it suspiciously easy to put down, as if part of me just doesn't want to make the effort to match up to its demands.
Then I thought I'd find myself swept away by Milan Kundera's The Unbearable Lightness of Being, only to fail to manage take-off despite reading the opening chapters a couple of times now. I know I'll read it soon, but not immediately, just not being able to find the energy to get going on it. After that failure I thought I'd have no problem with Richard Flanagan's The Narrow Road to the Deep North, which some kind soul gave me for my birthday. I was wrong. I ran out of steam about thirty pages in, despite enjoying what I'd read.
I'm not entirely sure what's going on here. I'm busy in terms of the Toad, work, but then I always am, so that isn't any kind of explanation. It feels curiously like a kind of burn-out.
Or, rather, it did until I picked up a paperback edition of James Shapiro's 1606, Shakespeare and the Year of Lear. I've been waiting for this to make itself available for months, and now it's finally in my sweaty palms - having found it in the inestimable Kinokuniya just now - nothing but nothing is going to get in the way of my reading this immediately. Maybe twice, just for the hell of it. Appetite restored, and how.