Saturday 14 June 2008

The Reading Lamp: When pleasure and pain intermingle

Okay, I'm totally projecting the pain of my dissertation onto margaine here, which is probably unfair and potentially completely inapplicable. Perhaps she loves her dissertation. If so, I both admire and fear her. The important thing is, dissertation writing hasn't destroyed her love of reading. Three cheers for margaine!

Your name:

What are you reading now? La Préférence Nationale by Fatou Diome – a set of short stories about immigration in France. It’s for my dissertation.

Where are you reading it? On my bed, on the bus, in coffee shops.

How did you discover this book? I read Fatou Diome’s more recent novel The Belly of the Atlantic first, and then I moved on to the rest of her writings. I first found out about Diome through this website: from the University of Western Australia. It has a marvelous database of women writing in French from Africa.

What about a dessert book, a book you could read and then eat? This might sound absurd, but Invisible Cities, by Italo Calvino. The descriptions of the cities really are like dessert to me - they are so rich in possibilities and full of glorious imagery. I just want to dive right in.

Who is your literary boyfriend or girlfriend? (Could be either a character or an author, and if it’s an author, he or she need not still be alive.) Jupiter Jones from the Alfred Hitchcock and the Three Investigators series. Okay, not really, but he was my first literary crush, if not one of my first crushes ever. Very smart, slightly overweight, kind-of nerdy, full of curiosity, and always ready with a solution to every problem.

What's your favourite either unknown or underappreciated book? My favorite book that very few people seem to be aware of is Whitewater by Paul Horgan. It is set in 1950s West-Central Texas, where high school football reigns supreme. It has a very nostalgic feel. The narrator longs for a bygone era, and yet that era is full of tragedy. If you ever want to get a feel for small-town America of another age, this book really has it.

Favourite childhood book? My favorite book as a child was Keep the Lights Burning, Abbie, about a girl who lives on a lighthouse island with her family. Her father goes out in his boat, a storm comes, and Abbie is determined to keep the lighthouse lights burning to guide her father home. I’m not sure why the story appealed to me so much, but looking back on it, I think I must have identified with Abbie without fully realizing it.

Do you buy books or borrow them from the library? Either way, what is your favourite place to get books and why? The majority of the books that I’ve read in my life are books that I’ve borrowed from the library. My favorite place to get books, though I haven’t been there in years, is the library in the town where I grew up. That is where I really grew to love reading, and every time I go there, it brings back so many good memories. More realistically, I get everything I need from my university’s library and everything I want from used bookstores and sales.

Best music to read to? Why? I read while listening to all types of music, but Philip Glass’ music is especially conducive to reading. A lot of it is very calming and peaceful, while still being interesting and full of variation. It keeps me simultaneously enlivened and relaxed. It is also instrumental, which prevents distraction.


Anonymous said...

fear not. I have a love/hate relationship with my dissertation.

Anonymous said...

wow. yay for margaine! And your literary crush sounds fantastic.

Bookphilia said...

i'm sorry your relationship with your dissertation is not uncomplicated. however, you seem to be able to read cool books for it.

petgigs said...

I'm really happy I found this blog. It's one of the few I KNOW it's where I belong. Interestingly enough, this blog came to me by way of a Philip Glass Google Alert. (Someone said his music was good to read by). When I hear Glassmusic, all I can do is listen--but that's me. I do research for his Website
Anyway, I INHALE books. I EAT them. If I am between books I feel weird--like there's something missing,something else I ought to be doing, restless, fidgety, adrift. I think you know what I mean.
I love to have people recommend books to me. My niece is currently, miserably working on her dissertation. She'll be OK eventually. In the meantime, she is a T.A for a Lit. class. She gets to pick her own books. I get most of the leftovers, but ALL her recommendations after each term. This has been great, but I need more. You guys seem perfect. BTW: I can also recommend. I have a well used library card.
So let the reading begin!! I will check your archives, & I am happy to participate in this great looking blog.
Be well, friends,

Bookphilia said...


Thanks for your great comment! I know just what you mean about feeling weird if not reading something...not that I find myself in the position of not reading very often.

petgigs said...

Thanks, dreamqueen, for welcoming me.
Naturally with great enthusiasm I joined, only to then disappear. All I can say is that stuff sometimes takes over your life, forcing you to do things you can't get out of.
I have started 3 books that I just can't get into. They are all good books, & usually I just plunge on, get through all the preliminaries, & I'm usually happy when I can get into the meat of the book & happy that I finished it. Not this time. Maybe it's the other stuff going on. Anyway, I will take a good look at what you guys are reading & have read, & a trip to the library is in the near future.
Thanks again for the warm welcome.
I'll let you know what I come up with.
Be well,