At the National Book Critics Circle’s blog I talk about how I decide what to read next:
Like any writer and avid reader, I’d imagine, I have a folder containing multiple lists I’ve compiled over the years of books that I’d like to read. I’d culled many of the books on these lists from interviews with and/or essays by writers I admire. There are bibliographies xeroxed from other books. Jottings from who knows where. Lists, lists, and more lists that seemingly proliferate on their own in this sheave of sheets that I occasionally flip through after finishing a book; but I rarely actually end up finding a book to read from them. I’m more likely to pull a book off from one of my sagging shelves and read that. Books on shelves are accusers. Each spine is an eye bearing down on me. Each title is a shout demanding me to give due attention. I’m also one of the dying breed of burrowing bookworms borrowing books from the library, one who gets lost in the dusty stacks of a used bookstore, following a trail only to embark on a new one. It’s rare for me to read a book that a friend recommends since these books are usually what “everybody” is reading, and this usually works more often as a deterrent more than anything else.
And, at The Laughing Yeti I ramble on about reading, among other things, in “The Whatness of Our Whoness: On Reading”:
In this land of bilk and money, where the snares of immediacy (of self-gratification, communication, data mining, matchmaking, etc.) may sometimes fool us into thinking that we’re getting closer, that we’re finally nesting within the intimacy we crave, that we matter, somehow, to someone; that it is, after all, a small world; where technological marvels with their ringing bells and screeching whistles have stunned us into a state of wow, causing us to say “awesome” so frequently it’s lost all meaning; where apathy in its various forms is the new cool; in this land of I, me, mine, this land where time is money and money is the only thing that matters, the act of reading from a book might just be a singular waste of time, or it might be one of the most life-affirming acts, the continuum where we discover, as Joyce wrote in Ulysses, the “whatness of our whoness”.