Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Recollections of Reading

I am in the middle of Recollections of My Nonexistence, by Rebecca Solnit, a memoir. Recently I got myself paperback versions of her Hope in the Dark, to uplift me, and Men Explain Things To Me, to update myself on all that. I am staying calm, so far, in Recollections of My Nonexistence, despite the bad behavior of some men over time, in her life, in my life, and in history. Sigh…

I’m reading the hard copy, sheltered in place at home, and now I realize my library has an e-version, so go for it! Right now I am enjoying her reflections on reading in general—how it is not so much escape as immersion in other lives and a way to develop empathy. 

Here is her description of reading as an experience, a kind of transformation:

There is something astonishing about reading, about that suspension of your own time and place to travel into others’. It’s a way of disappearing from where you are—not quite entering the author’s mind but engaging with it so that something arises between your mind and hers. You translate words into your own images, faces, places, light and shade and sound and emotion. A world arises in your head that you have built at the author’s behest, and when you’re present in that world you’re absent from your own.

So if you feel absent from your own (former) life now, you might choose a book to be present in for a time. Solnit has made me want to read Song of the Lark, by Willa Cather, “in which the ambitious, amorous, extraordinarily talented heroine is not punished” as women are so often in books by men, or by women overly influenced by patriarchy. 

Fortunately, Song of the Lark is available in e-book form at my library, too!

1 comment:

kkish said...

Thanks for your reading posts! I find Willa Cather empowering and, as a result, kind of comforting. I haven't read The Song of the Lark. I also (hides face in shame) have never actually read an ebook. I've listened to many audio books, but am daunted by the idea of all that electronic light tiring my eyes and keeping my brain awake at night, plus I do so like the feel of a book. I'm planning to work my way through my remaining library books and then tackle my own personal lending library - aka the many stacks of unread books I keep in rooms all over my house.Current book is Doris Lessing's The Cleft.