|With Intent to Read|
Sometimes, I pick one up, open it, get the idea, and close it again. Other times I realize that great gems are hidden inside. If I see a glimmer I'll go back and immerse myself in the entire book from the beginning. Like all creative works—including artists' books, film, music, plays, etc.—this particular piece may resonate with me or it may not. The work itself may or may not be ultimately inspiring, but the search should yield interesting results.
A couple months ago I read How to Talk About Books You Haven't Read by Pierre Bayard. Bayard is a professor of literature in France who is also interested in psychology. He writes that he is a lover of literature, but that he can't possibly read everything he wants to read. He suggests that books are situated in certain places, that you don't need to know exactly what is in them to know what they are about. If you know what they are about you can talk about the ideas within. Bayard has a hilarious classification system that includes: books read, books he's heard of, books he's read and forgotten, and books he's never heard of. If you have forgotten a book is it like never having read it? I have a whole bookshelf of books I've read and vaguely remember. This makes me feel uneasy.
Bayard also makes the point that you may not read an entire book at once (or ever) but you may live with it your whole life as you dip into it from time to time. Perhaps living with a book is more important.
I guess I am relieved that I can also not read whatever I want. I just have to find more books I can live with.
On a somewhat related side note: I finally saw the excellent and passionate 2008 film The Reader with Kate Winslet, Ralph Fiennes, and David Kross. It is a love story, a thoughtful exploration of moral and social responsibility, and a look at emotional confusion and indecisiveness, with books and reading as the pivot point.