Sunday, March 15, 2009

Because there's more to life than food. . .

The full circle of a reading life:

5-11: read strictly for pleasure, decent books by Laura Ingalls Wilder, Beverly Cleary, P.L. Travers, etc.

11-16: read strictly for pleasure and sex education, crappy books by John Jakes, Judith Krantz, Sidney Sheldon, etc.

16-22: read mostly for self-discovery, books of dubious quality by Herman Hesse, Carl Jung, Robert Pirsig, etc. Self remains undiscovered.
22-37: read mostly for self improvement, any book by any moderately serious writer who lives or ever lived. Occasionally read strictly for pleasure (P.D. James, Ruth Rendell) plus compulsive rereadings of the complete works of Barbara Pym. 

37-42: read exclusively for job. During vacations read anxiously and ambitiously to fill holes in reading so as never to appear stupid. Fail. Though not infrequent, pleasure is strictly coincidental.

42: career as book critic over. Valiantly struggle through 2666. Try to read The Dark Side. Try to read American Lion. Try to read Gerard Manley Hopkins: A Life. Fail. For several weeks, in confusion, look at the pretty pictures in Jamie at Home and do not read at all.

43: pick up The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery. Forget everything but funny, transporting, juicy novel. Until further notice, read strictly for pleasure.

What should I read next?


  1. Reading is fun-da-MENTAL, as they say, but I don't think your career as a book critic is over. I just read a great critique of Mark Bittman's vegetarian book. ... Now, enough food for the soul, let's eat!

  2. The cookies are great but follow the lead of our awesome babysitter who bakes almost as well as she takes care of our kids and bake 'em in a bar. She also used some white chips I had around and I ended up preferring them to the regular chocolate chips in them.
    Will think about books...haven't read any lately that I loved enough to recommend, alas. I remember that from another era of my life, though...

  3. you've got company on this book thing, tipsy. a sign that i'm deep into it is several books "going" at once -- only i know that means i can't really get into ANY of them.
    used to be, when doldrums arose, i could pick up michael connolley or denise mina and be done with it, be back in a groove. but not so these days. dunno why? now, even before bed, i listen to music (gothic mysticism) rather than read much. weird.

  4. btw, can't find the "writing in cookbooks" posts so i'll post here:
    just bought a used "modern art of chinese cooking techniques" and, lo and behold, many recipes have very careful, measured notations in pencil (of course) throughout.
    the perfect-penmanship and the ALWAYS-in-pencil, channels dear departed Glade R. for me!
    almost every one of the vegetable dishes have notes: things like "mash the tofu" is simply underlined while next to "jersey beans are ideal" she queries, "Blue Lake? Yellow Wax?"
    when she underlines "Cabbage Hearts" and writes, "Not whole cabbage" it makes me think she was very sad and spent a lot of time alone.
    while i can't seem to read a whole book these days, i feel i could read this woman's cookbook for hours and just imagine her world...

  5. ack. one more thing. maybe this reading thing is, for you, a sign that you are ready to write that book, write a book you would want to read? you certainly have the talent!

  6. Have you ever read I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith. A friend lent it to me a few years ago, and I found it very cheering. I'm currently reading books for the 2009 Morning News Tournament of Books, and so far they're more good than pleasurable.

  7. "cheering" sounds good, Girl Detective. I'd be interested to hear your thoughts on the Tournament books. Have you read Northern Clemency? I feel like I might enjoy that one.

  8. Read Norman Rush's Mating at once. Utterly juicy and transporting. Also The Go-Between by LP Hartley.

    I am loving the blog lately. Keep the fat & milk coming!