Two years ago I started this blog without any expectations about what it would turn into. I didn’t even have confidence in my ability to continue updating it. I’m grateful that people have read it and appreciated what I have to say about books. Conversing about books and reading what other people say about their own reading has only fuelled my obsession for reading more. And it is an obsession. Although I read more than most people, I sometimes feel quite down about all the books I don’t have time to read. Recently someone very wise said to me that I feel this way because I want to be on the inside when there is no inside. It seems to be an inevitable state of being for me and many other readers who tend to be more introverted to perpetually feel on the outside of things.
In writing this blog, I’m continuously trying to investigate the state of loneliness. It’s a kind of loneliness that can’t be assuaged by engaging with other people. Feelings of being an outsider, disconnected from the rest of the world, lost in one’s own thoughts. They are a state of mind which can only be settled by connecting with humanity through good literature. I really appreciate the distinction Joyce Carol Oates makes in her recent excellent memoir “The Lost Landscape” that “Loneliness weakens. Aloneness empowers. Aloneness makes of us something so much more than we are in the midst of others whose claim is that they know us.” It’s a sentiment echoed in quotes by May Sarton and Marianne Moore that I’ve put in the sidebar of this blog. Because only in this state of solitude can we live unencumbered by the judgements and projections of other people. That’s not to say I want to live like a hermit on a mountain (as appealing as this sounds from time to time). But I want to find strength in my self when I am alone and faced with a book that allows an entire world to unfurl inside my head.
So my fanaticism for reading more and more hasn’t waned. It’s been fascinating reading books for the Green Carnation Prize recently as it’s made me pick up types of books and genres I wouldn’t normally gravitate towards. This encourages me to not be so methodical in my reading in the future, to let my hand grab books out of sheer curiosity as I used to when I was a teenager wandering through used bookstores. There is a perpetual sense of excitement about where a book might take me when I have no preconceived notions about the author or the subject matter or what anyone thinks of it. But I still love hearing recommendations. Some of the best books I’ve read in the past two years have come from being nudged to read something by readers of this blog or by bookish people on social media.
So what are you reading and what do you think I should read next?