Friday, May 12, 2006

What am I reading? Everything.

Recently, I was at a fundraising event and was presented with an anonymous trivia card to fill out, requesting that I list my favorite authors and favorite books, and toss the cards in a bucket. Then we were to draw a card randomly and -- while mingling and making what used to be called small talk -- try to peg who wrote which card. I was appalled. Sure, it's fun to find out a friend or new acquaintance likes the same things you do. But maybe I'm a bit strange, because I think what I read and why I like it is kind of personal.

I read because I love to and because I want to know and because I love words and how they are put together and I even love the ink and grit of the newspaper and the smoothness of the magazine pages and the smell of books (yes, they do have a smell) and I love the way I feel while I am reading and how I feel right afterward and even sometimes for a long time after, and because frankly, if I did not read I'm not sure I could carry on for much more than a few days and still feel like the adult human being known as me.

I am both particular and indiscriminate in my choice of reading materials. It has to be interesting, I have to relate to it on some level, and it has to touch me somehow. That's about it. It does not have to be "literary," although I love many books which are. It does not have to be written by a favorite author or a prominent author or any author that anyone else may think is important or brilliant or a worthwhile investment of time. Fact is, some of the best uses of wasted time in my life have been reading stuff I might ordinarily not have thought to read, just because I stumbled across the book or magazine or newspaper or website or blog.

The "great books" and legendary writers have never held any particular allure, or at least any more so than books that have turned out to be great to me; although there are some "great books" I love for reasons I often even do not understand -- just as I love many quirky, offbeat, under-the-radar current-day writers, as well as a few (horrors!) popular genre authors who make me laugh out loud or feel something or simply (and wonderfully) because they make me nod and inwardly smile and think, "yes, that's real and strange and true and messed-up, just like life." So you will find Shakespeare on the same shelf as Piccoult and Wolff next to Quindlen and Malamud and Bryson...right next to Dr. Seuss's "Oh, the Places You Will Go."

Because that's what reading is all about -- going places and, at least in my case, not being too concerned about what anyone has to say about my mode of transport.

And what are you reading these days? (Or is that too personal?)


Mary Tsao said...

Hi -- thanks for commenting on my blog! I'm in the middle of re-reading Freakonomics for my book club. (Although I'm still trying to get through last month's selection Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver.)

I find that most of what I'm reading these days is mom-centric nonfiction.

Frank Baron said...

It's not too personal.

I mostly read fantasy these days and recently enjoyed Victoria Strauss' "The Awakened City."

I must confess though that reading has taken a back seat because baseball's back, overlapping with the NBA and NHL playoffs.

I'll be straining my eyes at print instead of the boob tube in about a month. :)

Rene said...

Since I read romance, I don't usually mention what I read. The comments are too obnoxious from various acquaintances. I don't really care what they think, I just don't want to hear it. I prefer romance and historical fiction. I read a lot of non-fiction. Right now I'm reading a romance set in 1755 New York. It isn't very good and rife with inaccuracies, but I paid for it, so darn it, I'm going to finish it. I'm also reading a book on Tarot cards.

Rene said...
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Kira said...

I'm reading a book of Bradbury's short stories and the "Ya Ya Sisterhood."