Thursday, January 13, 2011
Wednesday, January 12, 2011
An occasional feature in our email newsletter is the "Why I Read" column. We've collected some wonderful short essays on the topic from fine writers over the years. Here's what author Jennifer Traig (Devil in the Details, Well Enough Alone, etc.) had to say when we asked her:
I read because there are places I can’t bring my TV and if I’m not stimulated every second of the day my teeth ache with boredom. I read while I walk, while I knit, while I bathe, while I eat. Especially while I eat. My books are, essentially, two-hundred page placemats, stained beyond all recognition with greasy fingerprints and spilled spaghetti sauce.
I read because I can’t stand not to. I get panicky when I don’t have reading material, scanning my surroundings for any words I can find. I have memorized the Muni Night Owl schedule. I know exactly what to do in an emergency on BART. A short list of things I have read when nothing else was available:
· My parents’ Maxima owners’ manual
· AARP magazine
· “Iron: Are You Getting Enough?”
· “Some Facts on Herpes”
· LOTTOPeople Magazine
· Burpee seed catalog
· Map of Los Angeles
· The back of a Safeway receipt
· BEEF (America’s #1 cattle magazine)
· My Kaiser member handbook
· LL Cool J’s autobiography, I Make My Own Rules
I’m sort of lying about that last one. I had other things to read. But it’s true: Ladies Love Cool James, and the book has its moments.
PS. Other installments of the series await you by Beth Lisick, Susan Choi, Peter Rock, Dave Eggers, Daniel Handler, TC Boyle, Joyce Maynard, Peter Carlson, and Peter Coyote.
So now I aim low if I even aim at all. I mean, if I can't manage to not throw my money away on something I can do perfectly well myself, how can I ever hope to hit one of those lofty New Years goals like quitting smoking or whatever? This year I've made a commitment to read Suetonius' The Twelve Caesars. Sounds easy! I mean, that's only one Caesar a month and a whole year worth of Caesar gossip to bore my friends with. Furthermore at least once a month I think I'll pull out a striking excerpt from the life of each and put it on the blog here. Perhaps you'd like to join me? I've already recruited a couple of others who thought it was a good plan. Currently I'm somewhere in the middle of the exciting life of Julius, and I can tell you already that times sure have changed. For example:
"At Gades he saw a statue of Alexander the Great in the Temple of Hercules, and was overheard to sigh impatiently: vexed, it seems, that at an age when Alexander had already conquered the whole world, he himself had done nothing in the least epoch-making. Moreover, when on the following night, much to his dismay, he had a dream of raping his own mother, the soothsayers greatly encouraged him by their interpretation of it: namely, that he was destined to conquer the earth, our Universal Mother."
WOAH!! I dunno' Jules, I'd have kept that one to myself...
Wish me luck, I might just lose it.