...to read, we need a certain kind of silence, an ability to filter out the noise. That seems increasingly elusive in our overnetworked society, where every buzz and rumor is instantly blogged and tweeted, and it is not contemplation we desire but an odd sort of distraction, distraction masquerading as being in the know. In such a landscape, knowledge can't help but fall prey to illusion, albeit an illusion that is deeply seductive, with its promise that speed can lead us to more illumintaion, that it is more important to react than to think deeply, that something must be attached to every bit of time. Here, we have my reading problem in a nutshell, for books insist we take the opposite position, that we immerse, slow down.
David L. Ulin, The Lost Art of Reading
Sneezing was just as much fun - the way you felt it swelling up with a vengeance inside you, until it became irresistable and you breathed in and out in one great frenzy, gave yourself over to the bliss of it, your face drunk with pleasure - you could forget the whole world in one blessed eruption. But sometimes they came in twos or threes, one right after the other. Those were the pleasures in life that didn't cost a cent.
Thomas Mann, The Magic Mountain pg170
But now it seemed to him that present circumstances demanded his full attention and that it was inappropriate to shrug them off. Being lifted like this into regions whose air he had never breathed before and whose sparse and meager conditions were, as well he knew, both unfamiliar and peculiar - it all began to excite him, to fill him with a certain anxiety. Home and a settled life not only lay far behind, but also, and more importantly, they lay fathoms below him, and he was still climbing. Hovering between home and the unknown ahead, he asked himself how he would do up there.
Thomas Mann, The Magic Mountain pg 4
[The protagonist Hans Castorp's musings as he sits on the train heading up to the mountain retreat in the Swiss Alps where he will visit his cousin and ultimately spend the next seven years. I loved this book not only for the philosophy but also for the superb writing]
When you read a book, the neurons in your brain fire overtime, deciding what the characters are wearing, how they're standing, and what it feels like the first time they kiss. No one shows you. The words make suggestions. Your brain paints the pictures.
How is it that Young Adult books like this are sitting alongside adult fiction? The storyline of Round House certainlyhas mature elements, but with a thriteen-year-old boy as the protagonist and hero of the story (and all the accompanying fascination with breasts and boners that come with that particular demographic) this book is soundly in the YA category. But because it was on the library shelf with other adult fiction, I kept expecting the teenage main character to grow up and conclude the story as wiser more enlightened, perhaps also more jaded, adult. But no. I'm increasingly baffled at the preponderance of teen books in mainstream reading lists. I don't get it.
Anyway, the story is touching and heartbreaking and compelling enough to see through to the end, but left me annoyed that it didn't go deeper.
(back cover) In this bittersweet coming-of-age tale, Erdrich returns to the fictional setting of many of her novels, a North Dakota Ojibwe reservation. There in the spring of 1988, 13-year-old Joe's mother is raped; when efforts to bring the attacker to justice are thwarted by a labyrinth of laws applying to Indian lands, Joe considers taking action himself. Nominated for a National Book Award, the novel is another of Erdirch's haunting portraits of Native American life, tender but unsentimental and buoyed by subtle wit.