In addition to the Mac, I got a tetralogy of books (but all in one volume): The Alexandria Quartet by Lawrence Durrell. (M, describing it to someone on the phone, called it a tetrapak!) When last I read this series I was at university. While I did study English Lit, I didn't read it as part of my course load. I was drawn to it, no doubt, having read something of a similar vintage (1950s masquerading as 1930s). It had been decades since I'd thought of it last, but a couple of weeks ago I had a riveting, boozy, intellectual Friday-night-dinner conversation about it with Steen. Really, for an hour, I felt like I was a member of the Algonquin Round Table.
It's not often that I use my EngLit-speak these days. Moreover, it's not often that I read an actual book. Which is odd mainly in that, for 30 plus years, I read a minimum of a book a week. I read everything - crap fiction, good fiction, change your life fiction, biographies, poetry, prose, short stories. Even, occasionally, non fiction (egad!). I was a book addict. Teachers admonished me for reading in class. You couldn't have a conversation with me wherein I wasn't throwing around some semiotic terminology, or comparing a friend's personal experience with that of one of my "characters". It really pissed some people off.
Fortunately for them, I found blogs and now I never read anything but (and the occasional print magazine).
Strangely, I do not miss books at all. One might argue that I've read enough of them to last a lifetime - thousands of books. I immersed myself in innumerable plots to live the lives of others, to avoid myself, to suffer the sufferings of those whose lives I would never otherwise encounter. It soothed my loneliness, my anxiety. Books filled me with hope and longing; they dragged me down with despair. But it was the despair of someone else.
Of course, no amount of books is enough for one lifetime...
I have an interesting quality - one which I don't see in many others, one which has served me well my whole life long. I go where my imagination takes me and I really do not overthink it. In all the years I read, I felt a chasm between myself and my creativity. The day I started writing (and in this case I'm referring to my blog) was the day I no longer felt the need to engross myself in the creative constructs of others. It was the day I found a voice to speak of my own life. And from that voice, my life developed.
Of course I still read constantly. Reading is a huge component of my profession. I also read more than 150 blogs a day - blogs that are intelligent, humourous, beautiful and artistic to observe. The democratization of self-expression thrills me. I do not feel that books surpass blogs. I feel they are part of the same creative continuum.
Which is why I'm pulling out some paper (like, a thousand pages?!) and getting with the written-word, old-style. Weird that this is the book to pull me back. I'm on the first novel - Justine, only about 50 pages in, and I'm reminded of the atmosphere - the heat and intensity of Egypt in the 1930s. So far, on this read, I'm amazed by the floridness of the text (it's practically purple, but smart!) and I'm on the lookout for cultural prejudice. One of the fascinating features of this text is that it doesn't sidebar sex. Passion isn't qualified by literary conventions - well, it is, of course, but they're more modern (dare I say, honest?) than the majority of fodder from that day and age. So far, we've had pre-marital sex, straight talk from the mistresses of wealthy Arabs, and child prostitution. And it's not wrapped up in a symbolic bow.
I'm curious to know - smartie-pants readers who, no doubt, have read this carefully and more recently than I have - what's the thing that jumps out at you? And let's say you haven't read it, what book have you read most recently that have changed your perspective on things? Do you read blogs instead of print? What's your story?