I read. My urge to read is physical, like a hunger pang or a good sneeze.
When it comes to books, I mostly read literary fiction. For many years I enjoyed keeping up with critically acclaimed new fiction in the midst of reading “classics”. Lately I’m much more interested in discovering or rereading old books. My reading choices are the most purely free in my life: I don’t have any responsibility to anybody else and can follow impulses; all that I lack is the 9 extra heads that would enable me to read 10 books in one long lazy Sunday instead of just 1 of the 10 books in my to-read-next pile.
It bothers me a little bit that I’m not reading many new books. It bothers me less than that, after decades of proactively–obsessively–following the music scene, and promising myself I’d NEVER become one of those people who at a certain age stops listening to anything they didn’t know and like, I got unplugged from music. It was a combination of the rise of the iPod, the demise of the print music press, psychotropic issues, a new yen for the spoken word. There was too much music too easily available, and some how the whole thing just got away from me.
But the thing with new books versus old books, is a strong sense I have that old books are somehow better. Okay, before you splutter: better for me. There’s so many existing books I want to read before I die, and I just want to be with them, to live with them. Trying debut fiction these days so often feels like internet dating: something I have no energy for–that might give you back something great, but the sunk costs are just too high, because I have all these old books to read for the first time, and all these other old books that I crave to reread.
This picture shows some of the my best-loved books. Most of them I’ve read more than once. Only two of the authors shown are still alive. Colm Tóibín is probably my favorite living writer, with the caveat that though she doesn’t seem to be writing anymore, Alice Munro is still with us.
Almost enough for first post. The impetus for starting to blog about my reading life is that more and more my introspection about myself–I’m very introspective–traces through the books of my life (and the music, and maybe some other bits of pop culture that might turn up in these posts, we’ll see).