Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Back to the well? Or into the abyss?

We’ve never professed to be literary experts. In fact, the whole thrust behind this site is the belief that regular Joes like ourselves have as much to gain from great books as the career academics and industry professionals who have made good literature the focus of their entire lives.

We hope we can add some unique insights to an unnecessarily stuffy lit culture, and maybe inspire some new readers of good books while we’re at it. In short, the goal is to serve as a kind of gateway drug for literary fiction. But what we’re really doing, more than anything else, is chronicling our own journey of discovery. If I didn’t already realize that, it became pretty clear when I sat down to look at what I’ve been reading lately.

I’ve only been tracking my reading habits for a little over a year. But in that short time, I’ve probably covered more new ground than I had in the previous 30. To wit:
  • The last 15 books I’ve read have been by authors who were brand spanking new to me.
  • Going back to the beginning of last year, I see that 34 of my last 41 reads are the works of writers I’d never had the pleasure of reading before.
  • Throw in the next two books in my To-Be-Read pile, which are both by authors unfamiliar to me, and we’re talking a full 84% of my last 15 months’ reading- all of it a sad, desperate attempt to catch-up on 200 years of classic literary fiction.

Will I ever be caught up? Not a chance.  But I’m having a blast just trying. 

What about you? Are you more apt to go back to well of authors who are tried and true? Or are you blazing a trail through the unknown like me?


  1. Will you recommend a book for one who has never read any of the classics or contemporary greats? I find the thought of reading literature daunting. I'd need a book that would not send me to sleep by the forth page. Because I literally fall asleep while reading. What would you recommend as my first piece of great literature? And how would I go about staying awake?

    1. Would love to help. But let me give this a little thought.

      I'll make a recommendation the subject of tomorrow's post, and elicit other commentors to chime in with their own views.

      Stay tuned...

  2. A little of both, actually. Depending on the season, and my emotional needs, I may opt for either. For example, around the winter solstice I grow melancholy and seek out the comfort of the known: Lorrie Moore or David James Duncan, etc. But now, at the early cusp of spring, I'm inclined to seek something new, something to stretch my winter withered imagination.

    1. I hear you, Eugene.

      I definitely read by mood. Which is why I generally read 3 or 4 books at at time. That way, if I'm not "feeling" my current selection, I just give it a rest and pick up another.