just within arm's reach of my desk
Most bloggers are keen readers -- and as such, will ruefully acknowledge that blogging time tends to eat into the reading time that would otherwise be devoted to novels, poetry, newspapers, etc. Of course, the blogging paradox (just one of many, really) is that blogs are always acquainting us with hitherto-unknown reading material . . . even as they erode the spare minutes that might be used to read all of this wonderful stuff.
One of my favorite "Texas" novels, Moving On by Larry McMurtry, opens with the main character sitting in a old Ford, reading Catch-22 and eating a Hershey bar. These words always stick in my mind: Sometimes she ate casually and read avidly -- other times she read casually and ate avidly.
I've come to think of blog-reading and novel-reading in just this same way. Sometimes blogging is my meat and drink, and novel-reading is just a bedtime snack; at other times, that order of importance reverses itself.
In the past week, I've been feasting on novels -- and been too preoccupied, too satiated, to venture much into the blog-world. In a 24 hour period lasting from Monday afternoon (when I bought the book at Waterstone's in Reading) to Tuesday lunch-time (when I ignored both phone and doorbell in order to finish it), I was gorging myself on the un-put-downable Hearts and Minds by Amanda Craig. I had exactly the kind of reading experience described by theorists as "unconscious delight." As I child, I experienced the reading trance all the time: the world outside of my book would cease to exist, and I would be in the book. I also think of it as flashlight-under-the-covers reading . . . because just like my childish avid reader self, I could not go to sleep (bedtime or not) until I had completely consumed the story.
I only experience this avidity, this total book greed, a few times a year now . . . and I often wonder how much of it is the book, and how much the need to be lost in reading? Pondering this question made me remember a reading meme that Peggy, of Johnstone Journal, tagged me for a couple of months ago.
Out of all the thousands of books we read, why do certain ones cast a spell? I couldn't begin to answer that question, no more than I could read a strand of DNA, and yet I am certain that there are magical words and worlds that have formed the person that I am.
Frances Hodgson Burnett's books
Laura Ingalls Wilder's "Little House" books
Maud Hart Lovelace's "Betsy Tacy" books
Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
The Pursuit of Love by Nancy Mitford
Jane Austen's oeuvre
The Egg and I by Betty MacDonald
Laurie Colwin's novels and short stories
Anne Fadiman's essays
The Accidental Tourist by Anne Tyler
Gifts from the Sea by Anne Morrow Lindbergh
Journals by May Sarton
Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott
Adult novels that I read at an impressionable age:
Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
Couples by John Updike
The Alexandria Quartet by Laurence Durrell
All The King's Men by Robert Penn Warren
Catch-22 by Joseph Heller
The Unbearable Lightness of Being by Milan Kundera
anything that I found hidden under my mother's bed
Unforgettable literary heroines:
Tess of the D'Urbervilles
Memorable books I've read this year:
The Road by Cormac McCarthy
Disgrace by J.M. Coetzee
A Fortunate Child by Elizabeth Wix
The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls
The Post-Birthday World by Lionel Shriver
I've made up categories to suit myself, but if you would like to see the original meme, read this. Play along, if you please . . .