Do you ever think about what you read at a given moment or why?
For example, sometimes you might read to feel understood and feel drawn to books that echo your specific experience in the world.
Sometimes you want to enter someone else’s world, to gain understanding or to experience human life through someone else’s eyes and ears.
Some days you read with one eye open to form.
Other days, you want to get lost in a gripping story.
Some books you read in small bites, lingering over individual passages.
Other books you take in big gulps, books with long chapters that you can’t put down.
Sometimes, you might feel a “should” around your reading list.
Or you open a book that’s someone else has recommended, but you can’t get into it.
Trust yourself that it may not be the right time.
Trust that your mind is telling you what it needs for nourishment in the moment.
The same way you go to a bookstore with a hunch that something is waiting for you, and you know it when you see the spine, and when you open the book, it’s just what you need now.
Let the words feed you in whatever way you need to be fed.
There is no right reading list, no right way of reading.
Let yourself be open to all the books, all the ways to read.
Let yourself love and be loved by the words.
Here are a few examples of books I’ve read in different moods and moments:
Deborah Levy, Real Estate, a book and story about one’s home and desire to live elsewhere that I deeply resonate with.
Elizabeth Alexander, The Light of the World, a memoir of the author’s life with her husband that is so rich with culture, food, art, and music, I wish I could have been part of it.
Sara Baume, Handiwork, a meditation on the intersection of labor, art, and the studio that is also about grief and the loss of her father. Written in fragments, I read it in small bites.
Carmen Maria Machado, In the Dream House, a memoir about an abusive relatonship that elegantly integrates critical theory, the law, fairy tales, film, and fiction. This one I read with an eye. Also written in fragments, each chapter beginning, “Dreamhouse as . . .”
Jean Hanff Korelitz, The Plot, a page turner about plot itself. I read this one purely for fun.
I realize all of these books are by women and most of them hetero. The truth is I love to read about men and know what shapes their experience. I’ll share a few of my favorite male and LBGTQ+ authors next week.