As happens sometimes, a moment settled and hovered and remained for much more than a moment. And sound stopped and movement stopped for much, much more than a moment.
Of Mice and Men, by John Steinbeck
Before we start this post, let’s just say that this isn’t exactly a review of Of Mice and Men.
I did read the book. I read half of it on my flight to Toronto and the second half on my flight back home. It was short. I was sleep deprived and had that unique sweaty, disoriented, easily irritated persona that I only adopt during air travel. So while I enjoyed the book while I was reading it, when I sat down to write this post today, not much came to mind.
I recalled the story, the names of the characters (sort of), and my own love of Steinbeck’s descriptive style. But I didn’t have any sort of deep insights that I wanted to share on this blog. But that led me to another train of thought.
I have an uncle who loves to read. He has a job that allows him to travel frequently, and one time while visiting us, he mentioned that he had a goal to read 100 books that year. “But it’s hard,” I remember him saying. “So I’ve started reading books of poems. Much faster.”
I remember being troubled by this. While it’s great to aim to read 100 books a year (if you can actually accomplish that, I’d be seriously impressed), I feel like setting a numeric goal defeats the purpose of reading. It reminds me of when I was in elementary school and we were rewarded for reading quickly. What does it mean to read quickly if you haven’t properly absorbed the information?
That brings me back to Of Mice and Men. I’ve always been an achievement oriented person, more invested in the result than the process. I’ve read 20 books so far this year, and while I remember the rest vividly, Of Mice and Men remains cloudy in my head, even though it was the last one that I finished. Rather than speeding through books so I can achieve some sort of goal for the number of books read, it’s important to remind myself to read slowly, extract meaning, and to not be afraid to reread passages and whole books to attain greater understanding.
That being said, Of Mice and Men (what I remember of it) is an excellent read. I only started reading Steinbeck this year, with East of Eden, and I fell in love with his characters and style. East of Eden is an epic story that occurs over generations, while Of Mice and Men takes place over a few days and involves only a handful of characters. For this reason, it didn’t impact me as deeply as East of Eden did, but there was still plenty for me to mull over on my flight.
YES OR NO?: YES. I’d recommend Of Mice and Men if you’re looking for a quick but thought-provoking read. And of course, I’d recommend rereading – just because it’s a short read doesn’t mean it’s a simple one.