Sometimes I miss the years when I read and thought about one book at a time. Reading felt substantial, so much more rounded, and I seemed to be much more involved… Or was it truly so? I was prepared to dismiss this feeling as a classic case of golden age illusion, but that would be far too simple a thing to do. There certainly was school – homework, exams, projects – as well as everything else that goes with being a teenager, a young adult, but, in my free time, when I had a book of my choice in my hands it was always just the two of us.
Nowadays I am bombarded, daily, (even if it is, to a great extent, my own choice) with information on so many intriguing sounding titles (The Hedgehog, the Fox and the Magister’s Pox; The Year of Reading Dangerously; A Book of Silence; The Forest in Folklore and Mythology; Surely You’re Joking Mr. Feynman; H is for Hawk – some of the recent ones). Keeping them from intruding my mind while reading a chosen book (On Rereading) is not hard. It’s what happens when I put it down. It is then the reading becomes stained: what is in those books? maybe I should have picked Feynman first? oh, that Book of Silence quote was so good! maybe forests would prove to be more suiting a theme at the moment, and so on.. This problem was non-existent fifteen, twenty years ago. I had one, no – I wanted one book at a time is a more accurate statement.. and there was not even a hint of guilt regarding the amount of time spent with a given book.
Now, not only does this constant exposure to information create pressure in terms of time and choices, but (and this is a particularly annoying problem) it makes processing a book (letting it settle, thinking about it, forming a considerable opinion) quite difficult. I feel almost bullied to grab a new book as soon as I shut the covers of a previous one (for how on Earth should one get to all those titles with so little time!). I am fighting this feeling on a regular basis because, in spite of all the sensible, logical arguments against its presence, it’s always there…
On a slightly non-related note – a wish-to-reread list of books I’ve read this year:
- Carson McCullers – The Heart is a Lonely Hunter
- Willa Cather
- Death Comes for the Archbishop
- O Pioneers!
- The Professor’s House
- Mark Slouka – Lost Lake
- Muriel Spark – The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie
- Angela Thirkell
- The Brandons
- August Folly
- Before Lunch
- A.S. Byatt – Ragnarok
- Tove Jansson
- Moominpappa at Sea
- Tales from Moominvalley
- Moominvalley in November
- Moominland Midwinter