Monday, March 21, 2016

Reading the World

For the last decade or so I've been writing down in the back pages of my journal the author and title of each book I read. This makes, if not for a perfect list (scattered as it is among a bunch of well-worn black books), at least a start at a disjointed one. A year or so ago I began to annotate the list, jot down a detail or two that would help me identify the book without googling the darn thing.

Which is all to say that reading is one of my pillars, one of the things I need to do in order to feel, well, right about the world. And the book I'm reading now offers an explanation for why reading is so important.

In The World Between Two Covers, author Ann Morgan writes of books' "transformative" effect, in particular the chemistry between reader and writer, how the reader completes and embellishes the words on the page.

"As co-architects of a book's imaginary universe," she writes, "we do not merely register the events of a story: we create and feel them too. They are ours even as they are the author's, and without us they would not exist exactly as they are."

What else could explain the thoughts exploding in my head when I read Middlemarch or  The Great Gatsby or another favorite? What else could explain the wonder and the addiction?

The World Between Two Covers describes Morgan's year of reading books from all 195 U.N. recognized countries. But the title also gets at the miracle of reading itself. From one minds, many; and from many minds, one.


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