It being a new year and all, an update of my reading habits seems called for, though I'm not sure by whom.
As a refresher of my habits, let me remind you that there is a stack of books by the bedside.
I read a bit from each book each night. They change over time.
Sometimes I read when I get a chance in my work life or waiting for a car lube or killing time in the car outside the mall when others are 'shopping'.
Or even when Lisa, my haircutter, has booked me into a time slot in her schedule too cramped to handle the proper perming of a lady before me who wanted a dye job, also, and conversation about the trip to the shore and how much fun the family had, and I have a choice of reading hairstyling mags, the Enquirer, or why-didn't-I-think-of-bringing-one-myself!
The current list may not represent books I will actually complete.
I don't mandate that of myself. Sometimes enough is enough. Sometimes it's better for the book author and me to part our ways amicably, having learned plenty about one another already.
So, the current list, alphabetical by author's last name:
1) Alain de Botton. The Pleasures And Sorrows Of Work.
2) Northrop Frye. Anatomy Of Criticism.
3) Amy Gerstler, editor. The Best Poetry Of 2010.
4) Henning Mankell. The White Lioness.
5) Frederic Morton. A Nervous Splendor: Vienna 1888/1889.
6) Jacob Neusner. Rabbinic Judaism: Structure And System.
7) L. Michael White. From Jesus To Christianity.
A smart list. Probably too smart for me, so don't draw conclusions.
You might ask what I learn, and this general statement holds so very, very true, and I think holds true for any reader:
To read well, adapt to style.
Writers write at their own pace, they have their own density.
To 'get' them, you have to 'get into' them, swim in their waters, that temperature, those currents, the varying depths and dangers.
Their content depends not so much on how it corresponds to an 'actual world of (wo)men', but on how that experienced world is conveyed.
Rotating the authors through an hour is a mental 'circuit training', running up the bleachers and down, then lying supine on the Bermuda grass to do sit-ups. Work the parts in the interest of the whole.
I suppose a corollary for those of us blogsters (let alone poets) is:
To write well, beget a style.