Saturday, November 13, 2010

Looking for Things to Read that Are Not the Things I Have to Read

Yes, I have lots of reading in the months ahead, and lots of writing related to that reading. (I belong to the "Dorothy Parker school" of writing; well, to some extent -- I hate the writing part, but I'm also increasingly ambivalent about "having written." As you can imagine, I find it all a nightmare and I complain throughout the process, finding new kinds of pain every step of the way. It's an important part of my life and its, hm, meaning.)

Because I have a lot of reading to fear, I'm trying to build an imaginary buffer of non-required reading. I don't know how much of it I will actually read, but I find comfort in knowing about books that I could read without a pencil in hand. For me, this means mostly new books, from the last ten years or so. And, usually, books by women.

Now, the latter is not a requirement but rather a flexible rule that has emerged in the course of my reading life. It's not an ideological stance (I don't think), though it has probably partly grown out of my weariness with everybody reading mostly men most of the time. When you check out people's responses to yet another bookish facebook meme, you'll find that, statistically, that tends to be the case. And I do manage to worry some people with my reading preferences -- there are friends and acquaintances who imagine I'm pretending like it's the 1970s and sticking to a "niche." But, hey, if gender is so irrelevant and we're so post-feminist, why should my reading belong to a niche rather than be the result of perfectly random choices -- the very same ones that result in all male book lists, only with slightly different results.

... and I see I've drifted away from what I actually wanted to say.

During a google search for I can't recall what, I stumbled across this piece, by Rachel Cusk. I then looked up Cusk on The Guardian and now I want to find out more about her writing. Anyone?

And in the real world, I'm supposed to be revising an essay and beginning to read some of the many things in my area. Instead, I'm staring at the yet unread copy of Zadie Smith's On Beauty on the table in front of me(I must be the last person who hasn't read it).

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