I was a voracious reader long, long before I ever wrote stories of my own. I was hooked from my first encounter with Go Dog, Go. I used to win public library summer reading contests (the prizes for which were always more books) and classroom contests designed to get non-readers to read (I was never very popular). Writing a good story always seemed so impossibly mystical that it never even occurred to me to try it until my early 20s. Those first stories were wretched — let us never speak of them again.
But the point is, the more I started to write, the less and less I read. Not because I didn’t want to or because I was worried about copying, but because I became a jaded, hard-to-please reader. I’m not entirely clear on when this happened or how, or even what I can do to make it stop, but I’m ashamed to say it has become very very difficult for me to get through a novel. The reason I started writing is because I love reading, so what does this mean? I shudder to think.
Historically, I have had a couple of emergency books I could go to when the non-reading got really bad. Books I know I love and that inspire me. But — I don’t know. My reading ennui is turning into one of those antibiotic-resistant bacterial strains. Sometimes, even the books I love can’t keep me interested. Which is why, when I started today to reread The Last Voyage of Somebody the Sailor (by John Barth), I was relieved. Because this book is amazing, and inspiring, and I’m getting to enjoy it again… I may be a little more jaded this time, but I’m going to think of it as an ability to read with a slightly different perspective. I love this book. You should read it. And, now that I’m back on the reading wagon, I want to know what you (if there are any yous out there anymore) reread when you need inspiration. I need more books to add to this pitifully short list.