I’ve set this out before. Here it is again. Reading is complex. Think Warlight by Michael Ondaatje. Reading’s not watching, and it’s not travel. It’s not something to do. It’s something you become, like fatigued, alert, or in love. This is because a book, once ingested, becomes part of your soft-lining.
Read: because it’s effective. Once read, a text will continue to inform you. It will exist in the muscles around your eye sockets. You cannot remove this new insight. Think That Deadman’s Dance by Kim Scott.
Best to burn books, or ban them, or just not read them, if you want to stay vanilla.
Read: because it’s powerful. Once read, you’re changed. You may not think so. But who can hear their own voice change? You’ll be the last person aware of it. Think The Luzhin Defense by Vladimir Nabokov.
Read: because it’s enraging. Once a text enters you, you’ll be challenged on a terrible level. This is the level of your own self-you. Think of those books that suggest it’s time to leave the awful struggle on the road. Let it flap back to it’s own necessary family. Think What You Can See From Here by Mariana Leky.
Read: because it’s expansive. Inside, you blow larger, and you won’t be able to restore your old favourite self damning dimensions. Think I Heard The Owl Call My Name by Margaret Craven.
Read: because it’s confronting. We’re all recovering from something. Reading prevents our self-denial from becoming too comfortable by allowing comfort. Think Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak.
Read so you’ll be forced to contemplate an example of precise and dazzling beauty. Think These Possible Lives by Fleur Jaeggy.
Read because it’s comforting. Open your courage flaps and allow in a couple of astonishingly simple but completely new and healing ideas. Think My Goblin Therapist by Morgan Taubert.
Read, because the great texts are written by good solid failing people, and not generated by AI content tools that are sleek with success and without human allergies or proper death. Think A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole.
Read because we basically don’t know anything. Think The Ugly Tourist by Jamaica Kinkaid.
Read because we basically think we know everything. Think Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys.
Read: because the great texts take risks, and they insert tight unnoticed gems of permission into our poor flat salads. Think Mist by Louise M Hewett
Read: because once you’ve experienced the greatest writing, you too will quietly flake that same humility and insight onto your own breakfast table. Think The Vivisector by Patrick White.
You can’t forget. Think Ping by Marjorie Flack.
You’ll be enraged. Think Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin.
You’ll be desolate. Think A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara.
Think Collete. Think Margaret Atwood. Think Brain Moore and Amitav Ghosh. Helen Garner.
What is power? Tolkien, tell me. Suffering. Baldwin. Anger: Terry Pratchett. Vision: Huxley.
The Odyssey. You think it’s not relevant? Fools. The Very Hungry Caterpillar: we are you.
James Joyce. Sigh.
Of course, a Good Bookshop will put all these books right in front of you so you too can share in the glory. But not in my bookshop because I already took all these books home, and I’m keeping them.