Reading Like a Human

canstockphoto8858462Every few months or so, some list comes out of books that are must-reads for men or women or other sentient life forms. It makes me angry, but then that is part of my normal state of being. I grew up spoon-fed from a porridge bowl of “classics” written by men with a dollop of writing by women (usually containing more than a dash of Austen). The porridge was very white.

I’ve become a voracious, indiscriminate reader. I don’t read genres or genders or even bodies of work by single authors. I like ideas, stories, and turns of phrase more than I like stylistic, experimental I-don’t-have-to-use-punctuation nonsense. I like learning about people who have lives entirely different than my own. But one of the things I find frustrating are my own prejudices. My reading choices are blighted by internalized misogyny and American exceptionalism and European myopia.

I’ve been choking down Joyce, Dostoyevsky, Conrad and host of other “classic”writers and it finally hit me again this morning, while wading through my latest reading effort, Infinite Jest. I’m tired of the literary classic circle jerk. The constant chattering about the same ten books or writers. The same books showing up over and over again on these you’re-a-dumbass-if-you-don’t-read-this lists. Statistically it is impossible, with the millions of books out there, that these writers are the end-all, be-all.

canstockphoto20699261I’ve always made a conscientious effort to read outside my life experience, but lately it’s become a hunger. I read biology texts and war epics. I read sci-fi and history and domestic drama. Over the last year, I’ve been focusing on reading international authors and have set a goal to read two books from each of the 196 countries (I’m counting Taiwan). I don’t know how long it will take me, but after reading Weep Not, Child by Kenyan writer Ngugi wa Thiong’o and Basti by Pakistani writer Intizar Husain, my anger has gone up a notch. 

Why have I limited myself? Why have I read Faulkner and Dickens and Mailer and failed to read Doris Lessing or Grace Ogot or Ismael Kadare? In a world teeming with good stories and good writing, maybe it’s easier to take the word of a reviewer or a college professor. Maybe with our limited time, we reach for that which has been dog-eared and lauded in the hopes of guaranteed pleasure.

Reading, like most things we humans do, is personal. Why, when and how we do it impacts what we choose to read. For me, it comes down to needing my world, my little white American middle class lady suburban world, to be bigger. I read less for escapism and more for different perspectives and experiences. I read for the lyricism of words and the gift of storytelling. I read to expand my imagination.

As a writer, I read literary giants (fee-fi-fo-fum) to understand literary allusion, to gain some writing insight, and to know what is happening in the literary world. But the giants have been overshadowing a growing cadre of diverse writers. Despite all the doom and gloom about publishing and the state of literary attention spans, I think it’s an exciting time to be a reader and a writer. The world is ours for the reading.

What have you read lately that has been outside of your experience?

 Great Resources for Expanding Your Reading:

A Year of Reading the World – Writer Ann Morgan wrote a blog and met her reading goal in 2012, but has a fantastic and useful list.

World Literature Today – A nonprofit literary publication out of the University of Oklahoma with some useful lists as well.

73 Comments on “Reading Like a Human

  1. My reading experience has been somewhat erratic. I skipped the middle grade and young adult sections when I was 12 and spent about eight years in the sci-fi adult section before back-peddling into young adult dystopia and fantasy. I still read a little of each of those, but I’m trying to read more contemporary or historical adult fiction to fill in some of the things I missed.

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    • You bring up an interesting point about “missing” things. I think this has been one of my downfalls as a reader. My reading lists contain a lot of “shoulds”. It reminds me too of this affliction of “Fear of Missing Out” in the information age.

      Still, for me, reading is one of the main ways I learn about the world, hence the necessity to read indiscriminately, both fiction and nonfiction. Thanks for sharing your experience!

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  2. I’m not a writer so I suppose it doesn’t matter what I read, I can read whatever takes my fancy. The classics? I had enough of that at school to last me a life time. Shakespeare, Pride and Prejudice, Joan of Ark!!. Boring. We were supposed to read “To Kill a Mocking Bird”. I never did read it and I don’t imagine I ever will. Like you say reading is a matter of personal choice and I really don’t see the point in reading something that bores you senseless just out of literary snobbery.
    Completely out of my normal choice of genre and one that I thoroughly enjoyed was The Bone Church by Victoria Dougherty. Most of the way through I didn’t understand the book probably due to my atrocious lack of historical knowledge but there was something compelling about it which kept me reading, loved it.

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    • I would disagree that not being a writer negates the importance of what you read. For me, I learn so much from reading – I follow the bread crumbs of what interests me. It’s a personal thing, I know, but the pursuit of knowledge is part of the joy of reading for me.

      “To Kill a Mockingbird” is one of my favorite books – less from a literary perspective and more from the storytelling angle.

      Thanks for mentioning a book you enjoyed. That one has been recommended to me as well. So many books, so little time!

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  3. Somewhat accidentally, I’ve read Catch-22, Fahrenheit 451 and now, 1984 in a period of a month or so, all written in the shadow of WWII and with echoes of anti-intellectual tyrants, some obvious foreshadowing to present day anti-intellectual tyrants, weird stuff that happens with technology. What I like about reading those classics is it seems the writers have a real ability to see ahead by drawing on very real circumstances. That there’s a real timelessness we can find in our writing. I don’t know I’d say that about Infinite Jest. The title is apt, the writing is an amusement park but at times, with only seat for one, if you know what I mean. And then, I just read a short story by an American writer I met in Stuttgart earlier this week, whose self-published book I bought, and it was just as real in many ways as those others, to your point. I couldn’t finish my reread of IJ last year with Ross, had to put it down. Made the mistake of reading a friend’s doctorate paper on it, which was heavy on Keirkegaard and Kant references, and kind of lost my mind with all that, and being unemployed, and starting to imagine my dog was reading my mind.

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    • In regards to Jest, it might be one of those survivalist course books where people praise the hell out of it because they made it through. Who knows? I’m going to keep going, because I do like some of the wordplay and ADD aspects, but it does feel like work.

      I have so many mixed feelings about literary works. It feels like over the course of a couple hundred years, the list should be longer, more current and more diverse.

      The anti-intellectualism you point out is aggravating. Intellectuals often don’t help themselves with their overtones of arrogance, but defensiveness about one’s ignorance is just as irritating and slightly more damning.

      The three books you mentioned are favorites of mine. Satire and tongue-in-cheek writing, as well as sharp social and political commentary really grab me.

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      • IT was by turns exhausting and exhilarating. A year later, though, and it has stuck with me. I can’t say that about all the books I read last year.

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        • There’s no doubt that books we have to really dig into stick with us longer than reads that don’t challenge us. And if there are many layers, it may not occur to us until time passes what this bit or that bit meant.

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    • Interesting. I’ve been doing some re-reading of old favorites, like Catch-22, which I just checked out at the library today. I’d forgotten how laugh-out-loud funny it is. In the past couple of years, I’ve also re-read the two others you mention. Now I want to re-read Brave New World. Have also recently re-read Slaughterhouse Five.

      It occurs to me most classical fiction is depressing, with few exceptions, like Candide. Modern fiction, Life of Pi, is way outside my life experience, like nothing I’ve ever read. I liked Empire Falls. Wild Swans is autobiography at its best, about growing up in China during Mao Zedong’s time, by Jung Chang.

      I don’t have a television or a family, and I’m retired from the clock-time world, so I have lots of time to read. I’m a perpetual student of life. There’s time to read everything you want, if you live long enough, and time to read some things twice.

      It seems books find me, often by other people’s recommendations. I haven’t read Infinite Jest. Should I?

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      • Hi — well, on the question about Infinite Jest I want to respect the fact Michelle here is reading it and I don’t want to hog her space with my hot air, but I’ll say I’m glad I read it, even though I struggled trying to reread it several years later. I’ll just compare it to Ulysses by James Joyce in that I wouldn’t recommend the book unless perhaps you’re a fan of the writing process, to experience some books that really push the limits, perhaps lead others in different, new directions. And perhaps a question I was pondering on this this morning: how much can reading feel like real work, to where that’s OK vs. too much? IJ tries to do some things, and does succeed, that are marvellous in and of themselves. I have another friend who insists it’s an example of what happens when a writer gets so much clout, whether deserved or not, that they operate at a level above or beyond editing, and perhaps shouldn’t. I give props to Michelle for having a go at it, though. – Bill

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      • I appreciate Bill weighing in on this one and I agree with him. You have to have a dogged interest in writing and the process to get through some of these books. I have to take regular breaks from Jest, just to let my mind rest a bit.

        The depressing nature of these novels is something I’ve thought about a lot. I’m glad you brought that up, because as a reader I am not fond of the dark, heavy depressing nonstop onslaught of misery.

        The best books to me are really a reflection of the human experience – with the funny and the sad all coming and going. There’s something about dark novels that give the impression of depth of meaning to a lot of reviewers and award panels and I don’t understand it.

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        • Agreed. I’ve started a personal list of refreshingly human books that have staying power. Two of my all-time favorites are “Cheaper by the Dozen,” a family classic, and “My Family and Other Animals,” by Gerald Durrell, Lawrence Durrell’s brother. Both are autobiographical, family-oriented, and hilarious.

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  4. I read Middlesex last month by Jeffrey Eugenides. For a book about hermaphroditism, incest and the Greek-American experience, it was quite delightful.

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      • You’re welcome. I really think you’ll love her reviews. I have always been a reader and love having books around me but thanks to Claire there soon won’t be room in my apartment for me :). Happy reading!

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  5. Thank you, Michelle! For this blog, and also for counting Taiwan as a country. My parents grew up, there–our family fled there with the KMT in 1949. I never considered it not a country!
    I just started listening to Sonia Sotomayor’s My Beloved World. She reads the introduction and the foreword, and then Rita Moreno (HEEEEEYYY YOUUUUU GUUUUUYYS!!!) reads the chapters.
    IT. IS. AMAZING. Her story, first of all, and the stories of her parents, aunts, uncles, grandparents–heroic. And her writing, OH MY GOD, her WRITING!! The diction, the syntax, the vocabulary–every word placed just right, with the perfect mixture of humor, solemness, and professionalism. OH, it just makes me admire her more. I will offer it to my kids, I think they will really enjoy listening, too.
    So many books, so much to connect with! WOOOOOOO HOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!! 😀

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    • Thanks, Catherine, for sharing your story and perspective about Taiwan. One of the things that reading authors from other countries is making me do, is learn more about each country, which makes the experience more fulfilling. Taiwan has a long and complicated history and that really adds to the richness of its stories.

      I have Sonia Sotomayor’s book on my list as well (it’s an incredibly long list). I don’t listen to audiobooks as much as I used to, but it sounds like this one might be worth getting a hold of. Love your enthusiasm about it!

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  6. “I read less for escapism and more for different perspectives and experiences.”

    That’s how I got into reading as a girl. I lived in a small city and I knew there was more to the world, so I started reading any novel I could find. Naturally I majored in English in college where the word “genre” was bandied about like a badminton shuttlecock. Today I read whatever sparks my interest– and refuse to finish a book that I don’t like. It’s a form of rebellion after being forced to read so many classics in college.

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    • One of my friends suggested I was a literary snob for finding reading solely for entertainment or reading only one genre puzzling. I like to be entertained as well, but I feel compelled to balance it with learning something, too. I don’t like to read two books of the same genre in a row and tend to alternate between fiction and nonfiction.

      Depending on the book, if the writing is poor or the characters poorly drawn, I’ll move onto the next one without finishing it. There’s just too much of quality to be read to compulsively finish books I don’t like.

      Thanks for sharing your reading experience!

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  7. Thanks for the new book ideas. Like you I tend to stick to the same type of books, I love reading anything I can get my hands on.Haven’t been much into the biographies or non-fiction maybe I’ll branch out….

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    • I’m not usually a big fan of biographies, either, but I’ll read them about writers. I do read a lot of nonfiction on a wide variety of subjects. Sometimes it will just be something I ran across at the library or a used book store – those are often the best finds!

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      • I enjoy reading the paper every day but than find I need a fiction book to sink into to forget about the world around me for awhile lol. However was just handed a great book called, ‘Buddha Brain’ so topics of interest reads for sure, just need to be in the mood. Free books are always great!

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  8. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on reading – I think as I have gotten older I have expanded my sphere of reading but as you have mentioned, there are so many books in the world, there is no way we will be able to read them all but it is possible to sample as much types of writing styles, authors and experiences as possible. I find I am often alternating between 2 or 3 books at a time of very different content, genre and author to expand my reading and ignite critical thought.

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    • I usually have a stack of books I alternate between depending on mood and how much time I have to get into something. To “ignite critical thought” – I couldn’t have put it better. I think of the idea of assimilating information and allowing opinions to evolve as more is learned. I don’t ever want to get stuck in one idea or thought.

      Thank you for sharing your perspective!

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  9. Great post. I’m with you on preferring story and turn of phrase over “stylistic, experimental I-don’t-have-to-use-punctuation nonsense.” Because my undergrad work was science & policy-based, I did not read the “classics” the way many writers did, so it wasn’t until I started working on my masters in creative writing that I tackled some of the must-reads. I have not been impressed. I am for the first time allowing myself to quit a book if it’s not worth my time, instead of slogging through it. (Although I did slog through Vanity Fair last winter and am mid-slog through Middlemarch.) Some of the books and authors worshipped by my professors just don’t do it for me (e.g., Didion, Jim Harrison, and yes, Foster Wallace.)

    I’m currently reading The Ties That Bind: A Memoir of Race, Memory, and Redemption by Bertice Berry. Not that well written, but the story is great so far. I’m all about memoir lately. Jill Ker Conway’s Road From Corrain was great. Tobias Wolfe, This Boy’s Life. Did you read John Lewis’s Walking With The Wind? So much to read, so little time!!

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    • You’re right about there being so much to read. I have two hefty books that I’m reading right now, one fiction and one nonfiction. I’m note-taking my way through Infinite Jest and just started reading Parting the Waters: America in the King Years 1954-63 by Taylor Branch, the first of a trilogy.

      There’s part of me that is always a little disappointed when I start reading a classic and I hate it. I know there are a lot of Austen fans out there, but I really didn’t enjoy Pride and Prejudice at all and felt like there must be something wrong with me when reading glowing reports of it. It really is such an individual experience, this whole reading thing and sometimes the joy is in figuring out what really grabs us.

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  10. Very well said.

    I might be on the opposite end of this. My bookshelf is full of “should-reads” that I haven’t read yet. Somehow outside of the school boundaries providing me with the historical and societal context of these important novels, I choose the easier reads instead. Or maybe I’ve just gotten lazy as an adult; I certainly don’t devour books the way I used to. I should have read Dostoyevsky at 14 when I had the free time.

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    • I have a lot of “shoulds” on my bookshelves too. I’ve been trying to get through some of them, but it’s at a slow pace. I think we have a lot of new distractions that maybe we didn’t have in our younger reading years. I’m trying to cut a lot of them out these days, because I can feel the impact on my thinking skills and my attention span.

      If I were to argue about adults challenging themselves more with reading, it would be about the effects on the brain. I think about how important it is to force our brains to develop new connections and pathways, because we do continue to do that throughout our entire lives and it makes a difference in our cognitive abilities as we age. Whole different post in that, I suppose.

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

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  11. About the same time that I started my blog I came across three “bibliographies” of my readings, and included them in the “This is Nan Mykel” page. From `15-16 I read nine books (one by Kipling); from 19-20 I read 77 books (Robert Penn Warren, Jane Austen and two by Somerset Maugham); and from 20-21 I read 45 books, one by Kipling. The great majority were trash (aka escape reading). I wish I had kept up my reading lists. As I grow older I sometimes find myself re-reading a book I had forgotten about. Actually, I’m now re-reading Somerset Maugham and enjoying him anew. I do think I’ll keep track of my reading from now on–for awhile, at least..I try to post to Goodreads from time to time, but am really not certan how that bookshelf thing works.

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    • My very sharp 89 year old grandmother tells me that is one of the joys of loving murder mysteries and getting old – she can re-read them, because she’s forgotten whodunit!

      I’ve started keeping a notebook of what I’m reading and I take notes when I run across ideas or phrases that I like. I just started doing that last year and I wish I’d done it sooner. It’s been a great reference for me as a writer and I think makes me a better reader.

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  12. I wish I had more time to read! My reading is pretty much from the discount rack at the local grocery store (and other retailer I frequent.) For a while I limited myself to non-fic cause I figured with limited time I should learn something anyway. I’ve recently decided to add the “guilty pleasure” of fiction to stimulate my brain (and gain some enjoyment!)

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    • I have tended to read more nonfiction than fiction. It started becoming problematic for me when I wrote my own novel and it wasn’t very good. I realized I needed to read more fiction.
      Time is one of those slippery things. I got to the point where I was wasting more time than not and it freaked me out. Netflix, you beckoning bastard. I’ve really brought more deliberate attention to my reading over the last year or so. It does get the brain going…

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  13. I love this post. I used to be pretty narrow with my reading choices as well. I’m not sure why or where I got the idea that I needed to study the classics in order to be a good writer. The best advice (and I hear this all the time now) is to read everything. Read variety. Read outside the genre in which you write. I started taking this advice a couple years ago and made some exciting discoveries and have learned so much from what I once thought were the most unlikely places.

    Reading is personal, though. When I was teaching middle school in Korea the international schools there conducted the “Morning Calm” awards and students voted on the best book from a group of works selected by the librarians at all the different schools. I read all of the nominated books. At the end, this student choice award went to one of the books I liked the least….go figure.

    Anyway, I love to read. I don’t do many book reviews on my blog, but I do for the few books I like the most. I just did a review today for The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien. Yes, it’s a classic by a white male, but it’s still a rare gem. I read for the first time weeks ago and can’t stop thinking about it. Check out my review if you want. http://lonnahill.com/2016/02/26/the-things-they-carried-by-tim-obrien-a-review/#more-176

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    • I love that O’Brien book and I’ve really enjoyed listening to his interviews. He really helped me understand the role of a writer better in terms of what truth means and how fiction can be useful in revealing truths.

      Sometimes after reading an interview by some pompous white male writer (I’m talking to you, Frantzen), I feel a surge of rage about all the focus put on these guys, to the detriment of many other voices. But it does not keep me from reading them, because to me, that is just as churlish as men who never read women writers. My goal is to read much more widely than I have and to not be distracted by what someone tells me I should read.

      And you’re right, reading is personal. There’s no accounting for taste. Which might bode well for writers like me!

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  14. Hi Michelle, I love your blog and could easily get lost in your wonderful posts. Congratulations on your 4 years of blogging that passed recently, loved that post, I’m going to send a link to a friend who is just starting out as a life coach – I’ve helped set up a website with a blog page for her and trying not to make it sound intimidating, your post will help demystify the ‘what exactly is a blog’ question for her I’m sure.

    So I kept reading and wondered what the link was between your blog and mine until I came across this fabulous post and especially to read of your delight in discovering a Kenyan and Pakistani author recently, my heart did a little flutter when I read that paragraph, oh yes, she gets it. 🙂 Oh the joy of reading off piste!

    I followed Ann Morgan’s blog, Reading Around the World, back when it was a blog, it’s now morphed into a book about reading from countries around the world and launched her own writing career, so great!

    And then I saw Fransi’s lovely comment, I loved following Fransi’s 365 days of blogging, she is such an inspiration and has such a passion for everything she writes, I’ve been trying since following her to convince her to come and spend a year in the south of France to write her own book, and I am sure it’s going to happen in the near future (isn’t it Fransi!).

    So yes, I like you got fed up with being inundated with books that if they were people were seriously under-representing the world of culture and experience and richness and diversity, it’s not surprising when we allow others to put choices in front of us, big bookshops, school curriculums, I grew up being fed a lot of British literature and classics and noticed when I moved to France how widely read the French were – 45% of the fiction they read is translated from another language (and not from English) compared to only 3-5% of our fiction, my students would turn up with books by Colombian and Chilean authors, an Algerian author, an Icelandic author, a Russian/French author – I was an avid reader and felt so ignorant!

    Last year many of my favourite books were by authors from the Africa Caribbean region (and I haven’t even read the prize winning Marlon James yet), my Outstanding Read of the Year was ‘The Autobiography of my Mother’ by Jamaica Kincaid (Antigua) and I read a few excellent books by Maryse Condé (Guadelopue) and Cristina Garcia (Cuba), and the excellent Unbowed, true story of the Kenyan Nobel Peace Prize winner Wangari Maathai. Last year I managed to read books from 26 different countries and about a third were translated.

    Check out Peirene Press, they are an excellent small publisher that publish novellas (an afternoon read) every year 3 contemporary titles from different countries (wider Europe including North Africa and Eastern countries), they may not be what we would personally choose, but to have access to such a rich, diverse offering and knowing they are reading and researching in other languages in order to offer their subscribers the best of what they find, is just amazing!

    All just to say thank you for the follow and to Fransi for mentioning my blog Word by Word.

    Happy Reading!!

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    • Hi Claire. I am so pleased I was able to introduce you and Michelle. I just know you will love each others blogs. Yours are both favourites of mine and I’ve been following both of you for years. And yes, I will come to France, you will see. After writing seven chapters in three months I started to struggle. The words flowed but I suddenly didn’t like the way I was telling the story and no matter what I tried, it didn’t work. The more I tinkered the less I liked it. So finally I put it aside. I have been extremely busy with work for new clients anyway and couldn’t give it the time it needed anyway. And two days ago I woke up at about two in the morning with an idea. Same book, different way of telling the story, maybe a slightly different version of the story, it’s too soon to tell. All I know is, I love it. I can’t wait to see where it goes and hopefully my book and I will be in France sooner rather than later 🙂 thanks for the mention and btw, I loved Unbowed, which I read because of your review.

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    • Thank you, Claire for sharing your experience and perspective.
      I was thinking, too, that part of all this, might be a discussion about how more and more books in translation are becoming available. Thanks for sharing that publishing link.

      I read the Marlon James book last year and heard him speak. I love being around writers and he was no exception. It was so interesting to hear about how he has been touted as a Jamaican writer, but he gets all but damned with faint praise in Jamaica. I really enjoyed listening to him.

      It sounds like 2015 was a good year for your reading list! I wish you the best and will enjoy reading your 2016 posts.

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  15. I’m so behind on magazines, but the last book I read was All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr. I love WW II history and this story is set in that era.

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    • That book was my favorite in all of 2015! Doerr’s economy of language and storytelling skills blew me away. I’m actually attending a lecture of his in the spring, so I’m looking forward to that. I rarely read magazines anymore, but I did just subscribe to World Literature Today to give me a boost in my global reading goals.

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  16. I really appreciate this post. As someone who studied English at uni, I agree so much with this: “The same books showing up over and over again on these you’re-a-dumbass-if-you-don’t-read-this lists. Statistically it is impossible, with the millions of books out there, that these writers are the end-all, be-all.” At the uni I attended (not a top 10) you were given so little respect if you hadn’t covered these classics cover to cover and ingrained them in your every approach. It’s so tiring, so old, so out-of-date and fuelling a totally-backwards approached to literature. Thank you for writing up something I’ve long thought – but not been able to verbalise. This is it.

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    • I get a tad aggravated with these lists that come out every so often and inevitably, it’s 21 white guys, 2 African Americans and 2 white women. How is that even possible? There is nothing inherent in gender or race that includes the “good writing gene”. So either the list writer is biased or has simply not bothered to read widely.

      Also, I suspect there is some intellectual and academic laziness at work when the same books that have been touted for the last hundred years are still the primary focus of literature courses on college campuses.

      Thanks for reading and sharing your thoughts!

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  17. Wow, this is truly everything that is in my mind right now, right down to the Infinite Jest detail – I decided yesterday I “need” to read it after reading about others reading it for the hundredth time.

    Will I read it? Probably, but I admit I have a problem: I safely stick with the classics too often. I recently finished The Goldfinch and it hit me that I may actually enjoy reading titles from [at least] the past ten years. One thing (although somewhat minor compared to other things) I took away from my reading of Between the World and Me was that reading current literature also helps me stay current with the world; I admire Jane Austen for writing about the world she lived in, meanwhile, I’m not participating in reading about what authors are saying about my/our world now. In order to expand my perspective and imagination, I need to lessen my “to read” lists and lengthen my “read” lists, hopefully with much more contemporary titles.

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts on this!

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    • You make a good point about reading more current writers. I think, too, that historically, men’s writing got more attention, hence the overpopulation on the classics list. Now that diverse writers are gaining some footing, I hope that classics list down the road will be more representative of our planet.

      Thanks for taking the time to share your reading experience!

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  18. What a fabulous goal to read authors from every country! Just the IDEA make me sizzle.
    I know you don’t like to recommend books, but I hope you can keep us posted on the Good/Bad/Ugly along the way. You make me sorta wanna do this, but I’d need guidance.
    I just finished John Cleese’s memoir “So, Anyway…” It was hilarious, pompous, dull, British. Since my friend, Bob, and I share a dream of being insulted by Cleese, we both loved it. Not everyone’s cuppa.

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    • I might need to get that Cleese book after I finish Jest (or it finishes me), just for a breather.

      I’m thinking about joining Goodreads even though I sort of hate it. I don’t like writing reviews or rating books. I mean, hell, I haven’t finished writing one myself, what do I know? But it does have that widget for listing books for the WordPress page, so it’s a thought.

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  19. I strive to read books that provide relevance to my present life regardless of when it was written but abhor ethnic separatist stories that further divide us as a country.

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    • I think a little more reading might actually be useful for this country. You’d have to be more specific in what qualifies as ethnic separatist stories, since I’m not sure what you mean.

      Thanks for taking the time to read and comment!

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  21. I remember reading Catcher in the Rye, Catch 22, and a few other standard fare books in English class, and being more than a bit underwhelmed. The list of “classics” was limited in scope, and euro centric. Would have loved a wider scope back then.

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    • There’s a juvenile part of me now that feels like “you can’t make me” when reading recommended reading lists. That is the beauty of finally being out of school and in the world – we can go on our own book safaris!

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  23. Pingback: Freshly Seen at Jill’s Scene during February. – Jill's Scene

  24. Love your perspective. REally makes me think a bout my reading choices and how I need/ would like to expand

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