Monday, August 23, 2010

Other People's Navels

I am awash in a reading list of blogs, most of which function (as this one does) as a draft of life that might have once gone into a letter or a phone call (or lecture...). My online reading habits then bleed over into my book list and I wind up with a stack of memoirs and essays interspersed among the other books. Recently, I've begun to feel that every other book I pick up is some kind of memoir.

This is good in the sense that I've been wandering through the entire bookstore or library instead of concentrating on the genre section and trying to encourage family members to embark on writing down pieces of their lives. It's been less good in that I've come to feel this is partially because we don't have kids and I feel sometimes like the old house on a cul-de-sac that was nice for a while and is now withering inward from the lawn to the shabby porch to the increasingly closed off rooms inside. The one that renters make temporarily their own and then move on.

On balance, am I appreciating the flash of perspective that I get from another person's story or am I borrowing the emotional trappings of the success and diligence and courage of others? Since reading is my one go-to source of comfort as well as a favorite way to spend time, what I read signifies where and who I am at particular moments in time. It shows what I'm willing to explore and what I don't let in. Right now, I just want to make sure I'm letting the right narratives in.

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