anyway, i was thinking about my reading style this morning, because i just finished nicole krauss's brilliant novel, the history of love, and today i realized i don't yet know what i really think of it. sometimes it takes a few days for a story to really sink in, so perhaps that is why i feel adrift in the sea of meaning. i have noticed lately that when i finish a book, the feeling i normally have is not, "what a fulfilling reading experience that was!" no no... my reaction is more along the lines of, "oh good, another book to add to my 'read' pile." the result is that a lot of times i feel i need to reread things. i already want to reread the history of love, partly because it is a beautiful story and partly because i want to fully grasp its greatness.
and so, upon reflection, how-to-read tip #1 is: when you are reading a book you enjoy, savor it. let the language get into your head and follow it wherever it goes. i guess patience plays a big role here... in which case i should add that if you read like me, and need a few days to digest what you've just taken in, that's just fine. and always take the opportunity to talk to people about what they've been reading, because that's often a very helpful way to sort out your own sense of a story.
of course, another thing i struggle with is finding the right words with which to express how i felt about a story. eloquence is a quality that i cherish and do not quite yet have. (to that end, i am reading poetry books... which i highly recommend.) but we'll come back to this another day. for now, i'll leave you with a few books that, after a few days' worth of mulling over, i loved and still think about.
- the anthologist by nicholson baker: a novel full of beautiful phrases and poetry, narrated by a poet whose mind wanders and reveals his endearing takes on romance, poetic meter, and his neighbors. one of my all-time favorite books.
- a transatlantic love affair by simone de beauvoir: the letters between de beauvoir and nelson algren, the chicago author, during their 10+ -year love affair across the ocean.
- special topics in calamity physics by marisha pessl: elegantly written, a twisted story made up of characters who are more intricately linked than they could have imagined, yet are not necessarily who they seem to be.