Why I started The Reading Life-
This is my very first ever blog post, from July 2009-I am re-posting this(slightly edited from the original) so that people who began reading my blog in 2012 can see a bit of my reading life background and so longer term readers can see how my blog has evolved. When I first began my blog a very experienced blogger told me in time if I kept it up my blog would somehow take on a life of its own. My blog has taken some big side trips through Japanese Literature, The Irish Short Story, Indian and Katherine Mansfield but the anchor of my blog will always be about the literary treatment the lives of people who love reading and live, at least in part, a reading centered life.
I have been a constant reader all my life. Many things have changed in my life over the years, some good some bad but reading has been a constant. I do not think there has been a time since I learned to read that I have not had at least one book in progress. I traveled around the world alone for years. I worked in a variety of jobs with, to echo Chekhov, a varying degree of success but none of them ever meant near as much to me as my reading. One of the purposes of my blog is to try to share with those I can what reading means to me. I expect a lot of the books I read and I try to give them my best efforts in return. Decades ago I was a very bookish young person made to feel odd by his love of reading. If just a few people who feel as alone as I once did in my love of read can see they are not alone then I will be glad I started my blog.
In 1973 I read Gravity's Rainbow and I became convinced that I would never read another contemporary novel I liked as much. I stopped reading new fiction at that point and began to read history, literary and biographies, and the great poets. I read many philosophical works from the western canon and some of the wisdom books of Asian. I also pursued my interest in 18th century history and culture to a world wide perspective. Twenty five years went by and I read little or no contemporary fiction.
I embarked on some large scale reading projects. I read all the novels of Charles Dickens, the complete Boswell Journals, the Diary of Samuel Pepy's, most of the Russian classics, and a good bit of Samuel Johnson. Thirty five years went by and almost the only non classic literature I read were subsequent books by Thomas Pynchon. Somehow about a three years ago I got a news alert suggesting Roberto Bolano's Savage Detectives was a great book about people lives were centered on reading, people that don't quite fit into life in an easy way. I read the book and I loved it. I then read 2666 and two other shorter works by Roberto Bolano. I had already began to follow a number of blogs on topics that interested me. I subscribed to a growing number of book blogs. I learned from them to find 21st Century novels I would probably like. So far two of those 21st century books read in 2009 are among my very favorite books, The Elegance of Hedgehogs and The Book Thief. Both of these books dealt with how what I have come to call in my mind "The Reading Life" shapes a person and more largely the world we see. So I decided to make the focus of my blog books that show people whose life is centered around reading. This has been a powerful theme in novels from Don Quixote, to Madame Bovary right up to the Elegance of Hedgehogs and The Book Thief.