November 13th, 2007


So I’ve been polling semi-seriously on this readers reading readers thing, and I’ve found a good number of books about the act of reading–not surprising, writers are told to write what we know, and that’s what we know. So we have characters reading Great Expectations in Mr. Pip and characters reading (I believe, I haven’t read it myself) the seven complete novels of Jane Austen in The Jane Austen Book Club, while the characters are reading everything and nothing in Italo Calvino’s brilliant (I believe; I have read it and loved it, but my friend J once threw it across a room) If On a Winter’s Night a Traveller.

But but but…would I sound ungrateful to the nice and well-read people whoe helped with this list if I said these are none quite what I meant. This is reading as *plot*, which is wonderful, but I wanted reading as *character*–what and how characters read developing who they are. I only got a couple of those: Anna cutting the pages of her French novel in Anna Karenin and, my favourite of the whole game, the March girls reading and interpreting Pilgrim’s Progress in Little Women. Isn’t that a lovely one? Not only because *Little Women* is one of my most favouritest childhood books, but also because it’s a small little anecdote in a novel that’s about million other things. It’s just a fun (and yes, semi-moralistic, but all of a piece) incident that shows how the sisters work together, how they imagine, how they believe and think things in their world work. I think my point is that books are, yes, sometimes monumental and life-altering and the single burning ember of our consciousnesses…but mainly not. Mainly books are part of the fabric of our lives and our selves, the gentle background hum that, along with food and friendship and warm socks, make our days.

An illusion to me now

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So Much Love by Rebecca Rosenblum

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