In fact, I will probably never make it through the whole list, but there are so many books I want to read right now, I can't help but bring along more on vacation than I will certainly end up finishing... I can just see myself choosing to leave ONE behind and deciding once I arrive that it's precisely that one that I want to read. Granted, this pile is a bit ambitious, to say the least. I'm still wondering how I'm going to fit these all in my suitcase -- after all, I was hoping to travel light, especially since I'm going to be in a beach setting and really don't need to bring all that much with me anyway. I may have to narrow this down... I want to be able to choose between a good selection of books in both English and French, depending on my mood, and I've been putting together these titles for a while now, for various reasons. I like to have a nice balance of light, fluffy reading along with heavier, meatier stuff for when I feel like I can settle in and spend a good three or four hours reading non-stop. Which is obvious from the photo above, as I've managed to combine both Nick Hornby and Murakami in the same mix... Suspense and romance are also both good to have on hand en vacances, at least if you ask me!
(And I'm actually still in the middle of Katherine Pancol's Les Yeux jaunes des crocodiles, which is quite good -- I hope to finish this by Friday, two days into my vacation...)
Thanks to Lauren for loaning me Sarah Waters' The Night Watch, as well as inspiring me to continue reading Nancy Huston. And thanks also to Meredith for the inspiration to write this post! She shared her summer reading selection with us months ago...
Most of the English titles in the photo above I managed to either buy used or to borrow, whereas I'm embarrassed to say that I bought all the French books. And some of these have been sitting on my shelves, patiently waiting to be read, for months, namely Duong Thu Huong's Myosotis.
Which will I read first? That's a good question... Again, it all depends on how the mood hits me. But I have a feeling it will be something lighter, so A Long Way Down may make its way back up to the top of the pile... Then again, it's not the book I've been the most impatient to read, so it may very well have to wait. Decisions, decisions...
I've been reading more and more for pleasure in recent years, probably as my own ideal form of escapism, and I can't seem to get enough these days. In a sense, I almost miss reading for my studies, having to analyze a text and discuss it in a classroom setting. This experience often brought out so much more for me, in spite of the stress I might have experienced in writing my own essays and analyses. I vividly remember studying Kate Chopin's The Awakening in a sociology class my senior year of college and wanting to discuss its themes for hours on end, feeling like I could peel away the layers of its depth and never reach the bottom of its literary potential.
My mind has opened up to more and more types of literature over the years, out of pure curiosity or perhaps even a subconscious yearning to broaden myself, my mind and my interests. Before moving to France, I used to read countless books about French culture and novels set in France or French-speaking countries, so when I picked up a book in a shop and it spoke to me somehow in this vein, I would more than likely bring it home with me, as was the case with Claire Messud's The Last Life. More recently, I've become fascinated with Japanese culture, and modern Japanese authors, most especially Haruki Murakami and Yoko Ogawa.
Interestingly enough, though, I've always remained faithful to my love of novels rather than essays or non-fiction. Perhaps it's just this constant need for escapism that resurfaces at every turn, or a recognition of myself or some of my own neuroses and quirks in the characters. I imagine this is a universal trait, that we all yearn for this somehow, and we all look for ourselves in one form or another in our reading.
But the funny thing is that certain stages of my life took me away from the pleasures of plunging into a good book, and I've only found my way back again in the last four years or so. And what a rediscovery! In that absence, I didn't realize all the wonder and stimulation I was missing.
Even today I surprise myself with my constantly evolving passion for reading -- obviously I'm not alone, but it's as if I can't read fast enough some days, trying to soak up so much in such a short time. Then again, I often like to sit back and take my time, savor the pages, like I so often did with Milan Kundera. As I dig my way through one novel, I'm already thinking about what I will read next, anticipating the exhilaration of discovering new characters and new worlds. (Perhaps my boyfriend has solved this dilemma by reading several books at the same time, even in different languages, each one peeking out of a jacket pocket, but I can't seem to do this -- to split my attention that way -- as it distracts me from the story at hand. I need to focus on one imaginary world at a time.)
I do feel quite strongly that the appeal of certain books, or certain kinds of books, is very singular and unique, and that one's interests in books is very subjective. A book that a mass of people might enjoy sometimes just doesn't do anything for me, and I can't necessarly get into it or grasp why it is so popular. Whereas some other subjects or styles pull me in every time, but may not appeal to others at all. And that's okay! I've made peace with this fact, knowing it's all a part of who I am, and my own search for identity.
But like so many others, I'm sometimes overwhelmed by all the wonderful books there are to be read, and I know my thirst will continue unquenched for years to come. I just hope I'll never lose this passion for the written word, because it's one of the things that keeps me going from one day to the next.