“Merely the noblest of distractions.”

“Merely the noblest of distractions.”

“For myself,” Marcel Proust writes, “I only feel myself live and think in a room where everything is the creation and the language of lives profoundly different from my own, of a taste the opposite of mine, where I can rediscover nothing of my conscious thought, where my imagination is exhilarated by feeling itself plunged into the heart of the non-self.” I feel immensely giddy that I am allowed a more literal interpretation: I am in the mad throes of love with my room. The good books are better, and the blows are softened when I’m with the books that don’t like me so much. I’m savoring every moment I have in this room, and I’m looking forward to the days and nights-into-days of reading that it will host. Sure: The detritus will find a way to rise, inch across my desk and on the floor; the books will ever so surely contrive a disarray; Real Life will intrude and I’ll be too weary to even try to stop it. But—and, yes, almost a chant of mine now—I will keep reading, I will immerse myself in what Proust rather earnestly dubs as “merely the noblest of distractions”—for as long as the floors gleam, for as long as I have a clear view of every book in the room, for as long as that red chair will hold me. And even after, of course—of course. [Continue reading.]

This ideal reader

I. I am well aware of the arrogance in claiming that a certain book has been written with one’s self in mind. [Although I am also aware—and confident—that this proclamation ownership has not yet reached the prose-sickening stylings of one Elif Shafak.] I realize now that a more politic way of saying so is looking [...]

Alberto Manguel, A History of Reading, and our “essential function”

There is nowhere to begin with A History of Reading by Alberto Manguel when you’ve got a mind as speckle-y and inane as mine. Faced with this kind of book-dorkery-in-a-book, the tendency is to quote long passages from each of the chapters, and [over-] share personal experience that basically says, “I agree, I agree!” [I [...]

The Büchernarr

In the chapter “The Book Fool,” of A History of Reading, author Alberto Manguel cites a small volume of allegorical verse by one Sebastian Brant, published in February 1494 called The Ship of Fools -- with illustrations by a young Albrecht Dürer. Yes, the book fool is the main attraction. “Brant,” Manguel shares, “had meticulously [...]