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Reading

In Reading on June 27, 2011 at 12:03 am

Boston Athenaeum

Whatever the afterlife holds, I hope reading is included.

I am not sure when reading became an essential part of my life.  It’s like a wonderful part-time job — something I have to do — but also want very much to do.

A therapist once told me that I didn’t need to meditate because reading performed that function.

My reading habit had a slow start, but through the years, it gradually grew, as did my curiosity.

There was some fiction in college but not much.  I had read some novels on my own – mostly Waugh, E.L. Doctorow, Salinger, Baldwin, and Capote. I’ve always liked the theater and read lots of plays.  My graduate school reading was in political science and public policy and I’ve taken a few graduate courses in history but no fiction courses.

When I turned 40, I realized I hadn’t read a lot of the books I had planned to.  So, I decided to read Crime and Punishment.  It remains the most psychologically and politically complex novel I’ve experienced and I loved it.

In the past year, I’ve read Moby Dick, Billy Budd, Madame Bovary, Cousin Bette (Balzac), and The Merchant of Venice, among others.  I am about a third of the way through Ulysses and have just begun Boswell’s Life of Johnson.  I mention these titles to show what I had failed to read before now. My reading list could be a high school syllabus.

Reading is unlike other endeavors.  Take distance running; you feel pretty good after a marathon because among other things, you know how few humans can do it.  It’s a punctuation point.  You’ve done it and most people are not ready to do it again any time soon.  But when you read, all you feel is how much more there is to read and how you’ve just begun.  Reading does not respect time — there’s no beginning or end – just more reading.  Sounds like heaven.

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  1. True that ~~ I have yet to read *Life of Johnson,* still in the life-pipeline. Still sounding like heaven.

    • Hey Erik,
      My new media teacher forwarded this quote about reading:
      “Some read for enlightenment. Some for pleasure. But, sooner or later, we all realize that we are reading against the clock.” Harold Bloom

      Mark

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