Friday, December 4, 2009

Reflection on the present

This blog was started to give me a springboard which will hopefully reinvigorate my interest in literature as both a reader and a writer. I started my "Fictional Autobiography" to see if recalling the past might help me rediscover the joyful aspect of reading that has been lost. In following this process I am wondering what most specifically led to the loss of enjoyment I used to get from a book.

At one time I enjoyed popular fiction and I’ve tended to blame my University studies for spoiling my enjoyment of some of those books. Exposure to more literary works has made me more critical and discerning about the kind of books that I want to spend time with. But then, so many of the literary works don’t spark that desire to keep reading page after page, chapter after chapter. If a book is going to maintain my interest for a few hundred pages, it needs much more than clever sentence structure and poetic imagery. While I can relish a well constructed paragraph with exquisite and vivid language, that paragraph has to lead me on to the next paragraph and the one after that. Unfortunately, the craftsmanship of the author can get in the way and I find myself stuck in place, admiring the beauty of that individual part forgetting that there is supposed to be a greater story to which that individual part is leading.

Initial evidence seems to indicate that I’ve lost my love for books, that I have changed and no longer have that strong desire to spend time in someone else’s stories. My inability to persevere with a book is therefore due to something different within me. Throughout life we all find that our tastes and interests change – and maybe that is what has happened, and it’s not a matter of trying to rediscover or renew a past love, but perhaps its time to move on; recognise the truth and start to pursue other interests that do maintain my attention.

But if that is the case, why am I continually drawn to books? Why do I spend so much time in bookshops? Why am I so interested in what others are reading? When I visit the home of a new friend, why do I head for their bookshelves to see what kind of books they put on display (I should not assume they read them)? Why do I keep buying books that through experience I know will probably remain unread? Why do I still hope to find that book which will take me by surprise and be one that I don’t want to put down?
I don’t want my reading experience to be an act of endurance, with the main pleasure being a sense of achievement attained by the fact that I actually finished the book. I want one of those books that I don’t want to finish, where reaching the last page leaves me wanting more.

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