Working Out With Hefty Proustian Epics

It's time to get in shape for the summer reading season. NPR's Scott Simon talks to writer Sally Franson to hear how readers can do a pre-beach workout while sitting still.

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SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

It's only days past Memorial Day, and the prospect of appearing on the beach has got some people getting their swimsuits in a twist. We're joined now by Sally Franson who blogs at the Writer's Block website. Sally, thanks for being with us again.

SALLY FRANSON: It's so nice to be back, Scott.

SIMON: So you've developed a workout for the bookish?

FRANSON: I have, you know, it's swimsuit season and it's also summer book season - time to do reading on the beach. And normally, reading and exercising don't mix until now.

SIMON: Well - tell us about the regimen.

FRANSON: So the regimen is basically - I had a stack of books that I wanted to read this summer, and I thought, how can we develop something around this? So the first one is - Ruth Reichl came out with her first novel called "Delicious," and it's all about food. And, of course, when you're trying to get a beach body, you can't eat food. But I thought that if you put the book on your lap...

SIMON: (Laughter). Yes.

FRANSON: ...And did sit-ups, you would have incentive to read the book and to finish the sit-up because every time you heaved yourself up words, you would get a few more pages read.

SIMON: This is making sense so far. Now you have special plans for some hefty Proustian epics, I gather.

FRANSON: Yes, So Karl Ove Knausgaard has this 3,600 page epic called "My Struggle." That's a lot of pages.

SIMON: It's a struggle to lift on the beach.

FRANSON: Exactly, exactly. So I was like, OK, this is the perfect book for bicep curls. Like, you put volume two in one hand and volume three in another hand - you know, you just start lifting them up and down. And, you'll get stronger the more that you do them and he'll be publishing more volumes. So you can just add and increase your resistance.

SIMON: Do you - I can't believe I'm asking this question, but here we go - do you need the services of a trainer or a librarian?

FRANSON: I think both. I mean, I think my generation - Gen-Y - we're about making new careers. So I think trainer/librarian is the hot new career.

SIMON: (Laughter). Literary beach trainer.

FRANSON: Exactly.

SIMON: Look, an utterly serious question, which is to say not at all...

FRANSON: (Laughter).

SIMON: Isn't some of this undone by iPads and Kindles?

FRANSON: But is there anything better than holding a real hardcover book in your hand - especially for lovers of books and writers. It's our responsibility to be buying them in hard copy. And when you walk around with something like "My Struggle," it makes you look like a serious person. No one knows what you're reading on your iPad, it could be, you know, "Fifty Shades Of Grey."

SIMON: I see what you mean. You walk around with a Proustian, people go, oh.

FRANSON: Exactly, it's not about being serious, it's about looking serious.

SIMON: Beach season there in Minneapolis lasts roughly from 2 to 4 in the afternoon on July 29?

FRANSON: Exactly. It's a - so we really need to commit to getting ready for those two hours of nice weather.

SIMON: Sally Franson, writer and composition teacher in Minneapolis. Thanks so much. Good summer. Talk you soon.

FRANSON: Thanks, Scott.

SIMON: This is NPR News.

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