7/31/11: summer reading

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

bye
love u

Need I say: priceless.

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2 Responses to 7/31/11: summer reading

  1. Priceless indeed! On a similar beach vacation with family, I read 2 half books & helped my sister run lines, so I got snippets of August: Osage County, a play by Tracy Letts.

    • I regret missing performances of A:OC in both New York and Seattle, so it’s still on my to-see list. I always find the concept of “summer reading” to be sort of unfortunate, since it institutionalizes the idea of “light reading” rather than “serious reading”. Of maybe I’m just too damn serious.

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