Wednesday, 16 May 2012

Holiday Reading

I don't read as much as you think I do. Although I usually have several books on the go, this often amounts to little more than carrying them around until I get tired. I do read for work, often quickly (or too quickly), but being paid to do it removes a chunk of the pure pleasure.

I normally have to wait until I take a holiday to get any proper reading done. But I haven't had a proper holiday in years (Edinburgh doesn't count as a holiday). I read David Bellos's biography of Georges Perec while lying on a beach in Thailand in 2009  (his account of Perec's reverse-syllable poetry gave me the idea for this), and I got through most of Finnegans Wake while relaxing in Crete the previous year. What I need for my forthcoming trip to Austria is something of similar weight.

Before you start suggesting stuff: save your breath. I always react badly to recommendations. It's an involuntary and irrational reaction, and I'm sorry. Tell me to read something, no matter how appropriate, and chances are I will never go near it. I've no shortage of books I need to read. Some of them have lurked on my shelves, gathering dust, for years. I've kept them like guilty secrets. It's about time I blasted my way through The Complete Books of Charles Fort, which so far I've only dipped into. I'm deeply ashamed to admit I've never read Moby Dick. When am I going to make a start on the Arsène Lupin novels? 2012 might be the year I finally tackle H.P. Lovecraft. Top of my must-read list is probably Michel Leiris' epic autobiography The Rules of the Game, but I own stacks of Gustave Le Rouge (untranslated) in cheap paperback editions that are also calling out to me. There are, in addition, books I feel I need to reread from time to time throughout my life in order to keep in touch with myself: Rabelais, Tristram Shandy, Life: A User's Manual, The Great Fire of London, etc. I just wish I had more time.

My Austrian reading dilemma will be resolved soon, however, since I recently heard that Daisy and Greg are finding new homes for Ken Campbell's magnificent library. They are using occultist methods to discover which books go to whom. This is completely generous and brilliant of them. And all I have had to do is to send them the postage. My own choices will have to wait for another year; it would be sheer folly of me to devote my holiday to anything other than what fate decrees. I'll let you know what turns up.

No comments:

Post a Comment