Six impossible things before breakfast.

A library science student's perspective on life, the universe, and everything.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Reading in 2011

Today I read through a collaborative article in the Wall Street Journal called "Twelve Months of Reading," a collection of reading recommendations from 50 authors, journalists, and various politicians and other personalities.

I was struck by something that Adam Zagajewski, a poet and the author of the book Unseen Hand, had to say on the subject of favorite reading material. He wrote: "I'm one of those readers who love old and sometimes half-forgotten books and who do a lot of rereading, one of those who shun best sellers and can't understand their fellow travelers opening shiny volumes that they bought 10 minutes earlier in an airport bookstore."

I think it's unfortunate to choose one's reading material with such an exclusionary mindset. I'm definitely "one of those readers" who cherish their favorite novels and reread the classics sometimes even on a yearly basis. But I still like to keep an eye on the bestseller list, and sometimes you can find real treasures on the popular racks. Several of the books I've enjoyed most this year have been highly praised and widely publicized novels (at least in online circles). A couple of my favorite new reads from the year are Ernest Cline's Ready Player One and Ransom Rigg's Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children. Authors that I enjoyed rereading include Jane Austen, Terry Pratchett, and Kurt Vonnegut. I think it is important to be open to reading every and anything, because you never know in what unlikely place, whether it be a dusty shelf in an independent bookshop or the center of a shopping mall, you might find your new favorite book.

In the Wall Street Journal article, Zagajewski recommends: "a slim collection of poems written by John Burnside, a Scottish poet: Black Cat Bone. Mr. Burnside creates a world in which dreams and realities mix up, and yet we recognize in his verses our thoughts, aspirations and reveries." I will be sure to put it on my list for reading in 2012.

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