Wednesday, July 24, 2013

All the Books

Blogging Challenge: Day 3
Sometimes I'm afraid that I've read all the books.

It's not that I think I've read all the good books.  I've read quite a few of the great classics of the western canon, but there are many, many more that I haven't read.  Most of Dickens for instance.  Or, you know...Madame Bovary. 

It's not that I think I've read every book I'll ever like, either.  I just finished a recently-written, Pulitzer-winning novel about an immigrant family from India and thoroughly enjoyed it.  It wasn't a classic or a work of genius, but it was well-written and a good read.

It's more a fear that I've read all the books that will ever be my favorites.  I mean the books that I've read literally dozens of time, that I can practically recite from memory, with characters that feel more real to me than a lot of real people that I've known.  I mean the authors with whom I feel a strange personal connection and who have informed my artistic, philosophical and even spiritual worldviews almost as much as my own parents.

I can't go back and read Til We Have Faces for the first time, or the Confessions, or Brideshead, or Gaudy Night.  I can't re-discover the works of Shakespeare or Gerard Manley Hopkins or Graham Greene.

These books will always be a part of my life.  I'll buy new used paperback copies every few years because mine will have fallen apart and lost their covers.  I'll take them to bed with me when I can't sleep, read them to my kids, lend them to friends.  I'll still cry when I re-read them decades from now.

But it's been quite a few years now since a new book was added to that list.  It almost seems like that chapter (so to speak) of my life is over.  I miss it.

This all sounds kind of morose.  I'd be curious to hear from people a little older than I am about their reading experiences at different stages in their lives.  Did you continue to occasionally have that experience of discovery and kinship with a previously unread author?  Or were you pretty much tapped out by the age of 28, and had to think about reading a little differently?

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