My love of reading comes from being massively voyeuristic.
I’ve always been one to find the lives of others much more interesting than my own. I’ve even been close to getting clobbered on several occasions for taking the art of people-watching too far.
When I read a good book I get my fix of standing omnipotently watching over other people’s lives.
I wish I knew how to quit you; voyeurism.
Our world these days revolves around social media and the two objectives of this are: 1. to entertain, and 2. to distract from reality.
Don’t get me wrong, I am partial to a cheeky Instagram swipe now and then, but give me Kafka any day over Kardashians.
I’m not expecting to convert every one of you into a chamomile-drinking, bed-sock-wearing reader. But if at least one person after reading this article reaches for the printed word rather than spending another hour of their life scrolling through their phone then I’ll be laughing all the way to the bookstore.
I wasn’t always a reader.
Around eight years ago when was in Europe I had to forgo my Gluhwein and Bratwurst due to a horrid flu which kept me holed up in a hotel for the holidays.
I annihilated The Remains Of The Day, (think Downtown Abbey, but the literary version) by Kazuo Ishiguro. What got me hooked and eventually led me to read many other books of his, was Ishiguro’s ability to portray what the characters tell themselves rather than what actually happened. (I later learned in a creative writing course that this is known as an unreliable narrator).
In layman’s terms this means that he writes in thought, in a very humanistic way. Ishiguro went on to become a legitimate legend by bagging himself the Nobel prize for Literature in October 2017.
There are many good reasons to read.
The first of which is that there are so many gaps in the day that reading can be squeezed into. Given that the average person checks their phone 89 times per day, some of that time could be better spent reading a few chapters.
I was once told that the best way to read is little and often. I commit to reading one chapter per day and often find that if the book is a winner, I look up from my sofa only to find that I’m sitting in near dark, with a cup of cold tea and a hangry cat.
I also find that a book is great company in any given situation. For example, when dining solo at a restaurant and enjoying a book, you could almost be mistaken for being in deep conversation with a friend. And, therefore, you avoid unsolicited company or looks of pity from people who aren’t familiar with the pleasure of solitude.
Another reason to read is that intellectualism is the new black. Think Katerina in 10 Things I Hate About You. She reads Sylvia Plath’s The Bell Jar during the film, a book which has been known in pop culture to symbolise introvertedness, melancholy and being an outcast. This partially sums up her character in the film.
However, it’s Katerina’s eloquence and quick wit that ultimately *spoiler alert* win over Patrick Verona, who is played by Heath Ledger. What’s not to love about having a convo with someone who knows their Dostoyevsky from their Dante?
Being a true Melbournian, I can honestly say that there is no better fashion accessory than a pantone orange Penguin classics reprint under your arm to break up an ensemble of head to toe black.
Recently, I was fortunate enough to be gifted Just Kids By Patti Smith. I’m generally a reader of fiction rather than biographies however how glad am I that I veered off course to read this book?
The prose was so beautiful that the story could easily have been literary fiction. The lucidity in which Patti told the story of her and Robert Mapplethorpe had me unable to put the book down, Patti recalls long conversations between them, the ‘East of Eden’ dress she was wearing the first day she sighted Janis Joplin and facial gestures from over thirty years ago, as though it were yesterday.
The loyalty that Patti & Robert felt for each other and their art was astounding. You get the feeling that without their fated meeting, neither of their lives would have been the same. Patti grounded Robert and gave him stability in a way that no one else in his life could and Robert pushed Patti forward in her artistic ability. I would go so far as to say that this one is my favourite read so far of 2018.
Once you develop a love of books, you begin to grow a list of all the books you want to read as well as the ones to re-read, because those have stayed with you from the first time you read them. Eventually, you realise that even if you spend the rest of your life reading them there’d still be too many.
Life goals though.
My Top Five Novels:
- Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov
- Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier
- Stoner by John Edward Williams
- The Sense Of An Ending by Julian Barnes
- Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka
Thoughts by Mel