I think we ought to read only the kind of books that wound and stab us. If the book we are reading doesn’t wake us up with a blow on the head, what are we reading it for? … we need the books that affect us like a disaster, that grieve us deeply, like the death of someone we loved more than ourselves, like being banished into forests far from everyone, like a suicide. A book must be the axe for the frozen sea inside us.
— Franz Kafka
I don’t know where I stumbled across this quote, and I only assume it is correctly attributable to Kafka, but regardless, I am totally in accord with it. I am pretty much a snob when it comes to literature and the arts. My mom enjoyed good literature; and living in walking distance to a public library, I was off to a good start pretty early in life. I do remember arguing with my dad about films, which he felt should be for entertainment and not be too serious, whereas I have always tended to only like films about people or situations that could be called crazy or desperate.
It’s almost time to spend a week at the beach with family and I am loading up my Kindle (first time I won’t be dragging along a dozen or more books in my luggage), always curious about what others are reading. My son loves oddballs like Milan Kundera and Vonnegut; my brother reads Grisham and other strongly plotted thrillers; my niece has followed the Potter series, and even got me to agree to read the initial offering (which I did only because I adore her). I often bring books to the beach for everyone, trying to guess at what they might love (or at least be willing to read).
I did inquire of my grandsons what they are reading and I got this reply from the 12-year-old :
the name of the book is jeremy fink and the meaning of life
c u soon
and this from the 9-year-old:
frindle and the fabled fourth graders of aesop elementary
Need I say: priceless.