I go back to the reading room where I sink down in the sofa and into the world of the Arabian Nights. Slowly, Like a movie fadeout, the real world evaporates. I'm alone inside the world of the story. My favourite feeling in the world.
~Haruki Murakami, Kafka on the Shore
Every reader, as he reads, is actually the reader of himself. The writer's work is only a kind of optical instrument he provides the reader so he can discern what he might never have seen in himself without this book. The reader's recognition in himself of what the book says is the proof of the book's truth.
~Marcel Proust, Time Regained
When I was 21 I read Anna Karenina. I thought Anna and Vronsky were soulmates. They were deeply in love and therefore had to be together. I found Karenin cruel and oppressive for keeping his wife from her destiny. Levin and Kitty and the peasants bored me. I read those parts quickly. Last year I turned 49, and read the book again. This time, I loved Levin and Kitty. I loved the fact that after she declined his proposal he waited for a long time to mend his hurt feelings and then asked her again. I loved that she had grown up in the interim and now felt grateful for a second chance. Anna and Vronsky bored me. I thought Anna was selfish and shrill. My heart went out to poor Karenin, who tried to be decent. What has literature taught me about love? Literature (along with experience) has taught me that love means different things at different points in our lives, and that often as we get older we gravitate toward the quieter, kinder plot lines, and find them to be richer than we had originally understood them to be.
~Ann Patchett, A Sentimental Education - Writers on Love ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
I feel the same way about these characters in AK. I only read the book once in my 40's so I didn't have the opportunity to compare the two differing perspectives. But I distinctly remember confusion over why Anna gets top billing as if this is her story. Levin and Kitty are far more interesting so it might have been more appropriate to title the book Kitty Scherbatsky.
One book I did read twice and had totally different takes on was Dr. Zhivago. In my 20s Yuri Zhivago was Dr. Dreamy *sigh* But in my 40s he was nothing but an adulterous cad. I couldn't believe I fell for him! The scenery sure was lovely though. Isn't reading great? Carry on.
Deep winter months are in need of a good book and a hot drink. Ahhh delightful.
Recently I dabbled in some non-fiction:
How to Change Your Mind by Michael Pollan is an excellent if somewhat controversial read. Just what are we dealing with when we poke around in our subconscious? Just because we can, should we? Although I am intensely curious about it all, I can't help but feel it's better left alone. Regular, everyday, conscious life is confusing enough, no? Still it's fascinating to read about someone else's experience, especially someone as engaging as Michael Pollan.
Books like Pollan's I get from the library as I am trying to keep my own shelves at a reasonable capacity. And unless it is a particularly noteworthy or keepsake kind of book, or a book that I pick up for a few bucks at a sale, I'd really much rather borrow it than buy it. And, besides, isn't a library visit just a lovely experience anyway? I'd say, yes. Yes it is.
But now I am all in with some classic, old school authors and their wonderful fiction. For these I had to rummage through my long neglected, used-book-sale-acquired TBR shelf - also an enjoyable endeavour - and came up with The Pursuit of Love by Nancy Mitford (a double bill along with Love in a Cold Climate, which I will get to soon as I so much enjoyed Pursuit ) and Glimpses of the Moon by Edith Wharton, which I am reading right now and enjoying immensely.