Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Finding Words in Reading

A Reading Diary: 
A Passionate Reader's Reflections 
on a Year of Books 

“Maybe this is why we read, and why in moments of darkness we return to books: to find words for what we already know.”  - Alberto Manguel

Life and literature are seldom closer than in the writings of Alberto Manguel. In this personal book he relates his experience of reading over the course of one year. It is a compendium of notes , reflections, and impressions of both reading and travel, his life and friendships as illuminated by his reading. This "Diary" can be read as a memoir or used as a reference guide to one's own reading. The texts are all worthwhile; I found some old favorites, new authors and classic texts all within Manguel's reading annual. This little book, slightly more than two hundred pages, has Rabelaisian qualities confined in a little space. There are lists, wide-ranging comments, thoughts, statements, beliefs, pronouncements, and a veritable litany of the delights of living the reading life.
The subtitle of the book, "A Passionate Reader's Reflections on a Year of Books", captures the essence of the text. For Manguel is a "passionate reader" in every sense of that phrase and his reflections are illuminating. I would welcome further annuals like this, and find myself challenged to make my own. For like the author, I consider myself a "passionate reader".

The Reading List:
The Invention of Morel by Adofo Bioy Casares
The Island of Dr. Moreau by H. G. Wells
Kim by Rudyard Kipling
Memoirs from Beyond the Grave by Chateaubriand
The Sign of Four by Arthur Conan Doyle
Elective Affinities by Goethe
The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame
Don Quixote by Cervantes
The Tartar Steppe by Dino Buzzati
The Pillow Book by Sei Shonagon
Surfacing by Margaret Atwood
The Posthumous Memoirs of Bras Cubas by Machado de Asis

1 comment:

Parrish Lantern said...

The ideal Reader is The Writer just before the words come together on the page.
Ideal Readers do not reconstruct a story: they re-create it.
The ideal Reader is the translator, able to follow to dissect the text, peel back the skin, slice down the marrow, follow each artery and each vein, and then set on its feet a whole new sentient being. The ideal Reader is not a taxidermist.
Ideal Readers do not follow a story; they partake of it.
The ideal Reader never exhausts the books geography.
The marquis de Sade: “I only write for those capable of understanding me, and these will read me with no danger”---- The Marquis de Sade is wrong: The Ideal Reader is always in danger.
Reading a book from centuries ago, The ideal Reader feels immortal.
Pinochet who banned Don Quixote because he thought it advocated civil disobedience, was that books Ideal Reader.
The Ideal Reader is capable of falling in love with one of the book’s characters. A Manguel