I have my first Calvino. I do not think I can put it down.
More oddly yet, it is not Invisible Cities (despite my having looked longingly at that book for a couple years now). Instead I bypassed this. It was a book that denoted this first reaction identically when I discovered it. I picked it up, enamoured with the Robert Frost-esque title, If on a Winter’s Night a Traveller, then read the summary. I didn’t relinquish it until long after leaving the bookstore.
Now I have picked it up again. And once again, I cannot put it down.
“Long novels written today are perhaps a contradiction: the dimension of time has been shattered, we cannot love or think except in fragments of time each of which goes off along its own trajectory and immediately disappears. We can rediscover the continuity of time only in novels of that period when time no longer seemed stopped and did not yet seem to have exploded.”
Even if I am overthinking the meaning in just the first chapter of this book, it has taken some invisible weight off my shoulders. Maybe I am not the issues. Maybe my inability to concentrate on my great loves in life are not through a fault of my own. Maybe as literature has progressed, so has how I interact with it. Maybe it is just finding the right book.
I love to read. But I have a love/hate relationship with reading. Or more likely with myself, but who doesn’t really? I’ve always loved to read. In some ways, I love it more than anything. But I made what can be described as a mistake, though nothing in this world will ever make me see it as such. I devoted my life to it.
To clarify, my love of reading inspired me to get an English degree and go into publishing. I don’t think of myself as much of a writer, so it was a way of helping spread my love of books without the ability to write them for myself. And oh how I loved my degree. It was some of the best years of my life and I reemerged into the world an entirely new, more open-minded person. Nothing will change you like an education does. But it was hard. As an English student, I had to read. And read. And read and read and read. So much amazing material, like Djuna Barnes’ Nightwood, but so much of it just wasn’t for pleasure and it rapidly became a chore. Once upon a time, I could wake up, make tea, pick up a book and before I knew it, it was nightfall. But now, my concentration is shot. Unless the book is one of the best things I’ve ever read, I can’t be fully engrossed like I used to. I get restless, fidgety. Though there is still so much I want to read and I will never stop endeavouring to get back to that place of escapism.
Even as I have moved on and discovered my true career passion in cataloguing, I am still devoted to books. Devoted to finding a path back to that place in our relationship, where reading was as easy as breathing.
But until then, I’ll sip my tea and try.
I do not have tea, but I am contemplating books. Book covers to be more precise. Books stores, their designs, their layouts, and the plethora of covers they house. Though plethora feels like the wrong word. I love words. I love them more for the meanings they infer, rather than define. The essence you get alongside the meaning of the actual word. I’m very particular with words for this reason (or as particular as a motor-mouth such as I can be). It’s the reason I don’t like words such as ‘boyfriend’. Not because I dislike the meaning. In fact, I happen to like it very much. I dislike it because it is too easily thrown about, and therefore the meaning is not as treasured or important.
But books. This (I begrudgingly state) plethora of books. I can’t quite explain my reaction. How I stand somewhere around the middle of the fiction section, staring at all the different books with their different covers, all morphing into a blur of similar colours and features. So different, yet so similar. I don’t know how it makes me feel. Disquieted. Like something is not quite right, but not different enough to be wrong. Like entering a locked room and swearing something has changed.
I’m sure it’s just the words getting to my head. Time to take my new books (and increasing poverty) and head for the till.