I sympathise with the second paragraph here on 52 books. I am moving and changing other things too but mostly moving, all but three of my books are in boxes or bags and I have forgotten how to read. Or I am learning new methods and strategies but I feel as though while there was a time where I could read that time has passed. I tried reading from an arbitrary list and it almost worked, I almost made it through, but three months and two weeks in I had to stop and I haven’t been able to start again.
I wrote when I bought Paul Auster, The Book Of Illusions, that I didn’t like Paul Auster enough to buy another book of his, which was true. But I left it out on my desk and kept looking at it and decided not to wait for the summer after all. I read John le Carre, Single and Single (which was hardly there at all; ultimately a very small story), and decided to follow up with more narrative; to quote the inside cover, “The novel is a gleaming storytelling machine.”
And then, I was in Mount Pleasant for the day and ended up at the bookstore and I bought Paul Auster, Oracle Night. One friend said that she had been just about to buy the very same copy the week before. “I remember hearing about Paul Auster. Maybe from you?” Yeah, probably. And I don’t even know if I like Paul Auster; I don’t even know what he’s doing. But another friend, that night, looked at Oracle Night and was angry! And then I was defending Paul Auster: I may not know what he’s doing but I love it, I really do and I love how it made me feel for the strange week I dragged this book out for. She’d just read Paul Auster, The Brooklyn Follies and hated it or maybe just didn’t understand it but wasn’t compelled enough to figure it out. I didn’t understand The Book Of Illusions but I loved it.
The original receipt is still in my copy of The Book Of Illusions: $17.12 at Book Warehouse (at 632 W. Broadway) in November 2003. I used it to mark of a passage on pg 227 that I especially liked: “I liked being here, and I liked sitting down at the long wooden table next to Alma and feeling her touch my arm in the same spot where Hector had touched me only a moment before. Two different gestures, two different memories – one on top of the other. My skin had become a palimpsest of fleeting sensations, and each layer bore the imprint of who I was.”
I read in four-month periods, and this last period is marked off on each end, respectively, by The Book Of Illusions and Martin Amis, The Information.