Daily Archives: March 1, 2012

Clarissa on the treadmill with a Kindle

Everybody has bookcases in the basement, right?

I really haven’t been exercising enough for the last few months. It’s almost become comfortable to be sedentary – it’s certainly become routine.

This week, I’m stretching my comfort zone to include an hour a day on our basement treadmill. (Like everything else in the house, of course it’s surrounded by books.) We bought the treadmill five or six years ago because the weather around here is just too variable to make walking outside something you can do every day. My husband uses it pretty much every day; I’m not that reliable.

One problem with the treadmill – even though I never have to deal with icy sidewalks or humid 98 degree afternoons or loose unfriendly dogs when I use it – is that it can be pretty boring. Reading is a good diversion, but near the beginning or end of a book (or anywhere at all, if the book is thick enough) it’s hard to prop it securely in the book holder without mangling the pages. Yay e-readers!

So I’m taking the Kindle on the treadmill to its ultimate level of absurdity. I’m reading Clarissa, also known as The Longest Novel In English, For The Love Of God Mr. Richardson Please Stop Writing.

And I’d say that reading Clarissa slowly while doing something else at the same time is working out well. I’m only up to the sixth letter (Clarissa is made up entirely of letters whizzing back and forth among a smallish group of rich English people in the first half of the eighteenth century, and how the characters managed to avoid being crippled with writer’s cramp I’ll never know) – anyhow, I’m not very far into the story, but I’m already noticing that Our Heroine Clarissa may be less than reliable.

It seems that her brother and sister are jealous because their grandfather left his whole fortune to Clarissa, the baby of the family. They shouldn’t resent it – he only did it because she is such a wonderful person; she tells us so. Okay. But as I read along and Clarissa scribbled away about irritable brother James and sulky sister Bella scheming to make sure they inherited all of their assorted uncles’ fortunes, I had to wonder just how much time Saint Clarissa spent deliberately sucking up to Grandfather before he wrote his will.

And we haven’t even come to the letters from Lovelace the Villain yet.

So, to return to the main point, I’m stepping out of my comfort zone by getting more exercise, and by solving a nagging problem of how to read while walking, and by tackling a notoriously huge novel.

At this rate, by the end of the year I’ll be so far beyond my usual comfort zone that I’ll either be utterly uncomfortable all the time, or I’ll be comfortable doing anything at all.