Sunday, August 17, 2014

All love and war

One of my pre vacation blog projects was to gather a concise library of books for my 18 days of vacation, catalog them (in a blog post), and then report back at the end on what I read. I was thinking of the project as a small, concise snapshot of my reading, a census, one that I so rarely have the opportunity to take amidst the absolute mad tumult of my reading life that I live among when I am closely tied to all the endless available wordlery of the library.

Not long ago I read about someone who calculated how many books they could, or would, be likely to read in a lifetime. I think the main point of this was that if one is so strictly limited by this number, this finite number, wouldn't one want to think very carefully about what one reads? There is a kind of obvious, virtuous sense in this, but it doesn't take long for my heart to start rejecting it. For all its magic and misery the whole of literature is neither that great nor that horrible. It is life. It is beyond any calculus. And even if it were calculable for some pure and diligent readers, my war has always been with just that. I am a youngest son, an acolyte of the trickster gods. I refuse calculation and sneak in to grab prime numbers from the jaws of accounting. I steal pieces of books, their secrets, their unguarded treasures. I follow the lessons of the old ladies at the side of the road. I know that good reading, the reading that makes you better, is about love.

Well, love and war. You have to fight to understand, to pull forth, to let go. You have to fight for love.

And a little stealing works for me too. If I can steal the heart of a book in 25 pages I will do it.

All these things are readily apparent to me as I spend a few days with my vacation reading.

And also it is clear that one blog post may not be adequate to report on all these books of my vacation. Each book fills me with blog posts. No, not book reviews, rather visions, cheats, tricks, opinions, love, and war.

I had 13 books lined up. I don't think I will write a post for each book, but I will for some, because they are talking to me, and I want to talk back.

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