Wednesday, August 09, 2006

A careless reader now?

I've just spent some time revisiting the bookshelves down in the den at my parents'. We are a household chocked full of books and papers. There are old, musty volumes that fill the upstairs office. The newer books, including many of mine, line the shelves in the den, filling up two entire walls. How I wish I could truck all those volumes up to Inuvik with me. When I was at university, mid-August was the time to make that excited trek to the bookstore and pick up textbooks for the upcoming semester. I loved carrying all of my books home and finding space on the shelves for them, often putting them two-deep in order to find room for all of them.

I miss reading literature with the intention of picking it apart. I miss jotting down notes in the margins, sticking pages with little post-its, and dog-earing particularly memorable passages. My professors had told me that they could tell that I truly loved the texts that I wrote about. Through the years, several had tried to persuade me to continue into graduate school to do some research in cultural studies. I have just pulled out some of my academic papers, and I fear that I can no longer write that way any more. The lingo of academia no longer pour from my tongue naturally. I can't remember the last time I talked to someone about the commodification of women within a “marketplace” system as illustrated in mid-nineteenth century literature (one of the arguments of my papers on Jane Eyre and working-class women's poetry of the same era). So many of my papers focussed on the (re)construction of femininity and women's space, showing the influence of my Women's Studies training on all of my literary criticism. I no longer read that way any more. I now devour my books as voraciously as before, but without dissecting the text, without fleshing out all of the characters' subconscious selves, without examining the forces of society on their individualism. Have I become a careless reader?

Maybe I should keep a reading log, as I did when I read for school (even when it wasn't required by my professors). Maybe I should write about what I read, in more thoughtful ways than my general feelings about the books. Maybe I'll use this blog as a forum.... (All these “maybes” will probably go the way of my resolution to hone my French.)

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