The life of an academic, perversely, tends to contain little time for reading for pleasure if the life is left unattended, free to fill its little gaps with e-mail, talking, reading articles, and looking at pictures of cats on the internet. Or, at least, that’s my life as an academic. I do read—constantly—because I teach many things found in books and articles, and I collect at least three digits’-worth of pages from my various students each week, so the physical act of reading is compulsory. And there is a pleasure in all of that reading; I get to teach many texts I love, and I get to see so many young writers of varying stripes make improvements small and large.
But somehow, sometimes, I forget too much about books. Sometimes that has to do with mental clearance; I am much affected by what I read, and so I haven’t started reading Lidia Yuknavitch yet, or A Little Life, because I feel like I need to prepare a space for my heartache. I’m also very bad at reading before bed insofar as I do not go to sleep if I am reading a book in bed. I read until there is no more book left, and then my alarm goes off, and that is a problem when I’m working on my own book before the sun comes up.
My excellent friend, Laura Koons, has written about her own relationship to reading, the way the act of reading is also an act of being for so many of us. Her post is smart and it is tender and it resonates in so many different ways.
My own particular reading impasse is fueled more by inaction than anything else. I know exactly what I want to read. I have a list and a pile, but I don’t reach when I should. And I watch myself doing it, picking up my phone instead of one of them, responding to something smaller instead. What tends to happen, then, is that I am cagey, wary about books, collecting them in great heaps and circling them, until something snaps, until I feel I must dive in and devour them all. At once.
I did that a bit on Monday, finishing Come, Thou Tortoise by Jessica Grant, which was sent to me by one of my favorite people on the planet, and inhaling Tom McAllister’s The Young Widower’s Handbook, which are both books that you should read, and that I’m glad to have finished and then read entirely on the same day because they both invite a certain humor into profound heartbreak that I found disarming.
Next on my list is finishing Stacey May Fowles’s Baseball Life Advice, on which I have been nibbling, all out of habit, because of its short chapters and this amazing April light and the fact that there’s all this beautiful baseball, and a book on Shakespeare’s four Antonios (which is now fortuitously hilarious, post-Tortoise).
But before I go read about baseball between the periods of a hockey game, I have to show you this:
I have never been quoted in someone else’s book before, and frankly, I’m giddy about it. The essay this epigraph is taken from is “Nothing Happens at Coors Field,” at The Classical.
Thank you, Stacey, for letting me be a little part of your amazing book.