12 September, 2013


so, instead of awkwardly shuffling my feet as i stare at the ground, let's just get this out there - my name is agnieszka, and i drink and blog. i could make promises that this wouldn't happen again, but i am, after all, a realist, and i don't want to lie to you. instead, i shall promise to endeavour to do this as seldom as possible. after all, we can't look each other in the eye the morning after, it's awkward and weird, there are headaches and really, i'd rather just be able to hang with my poultries without endless apologies and explanations. so, are we good? good.

now, let's talk about books.

first of all, i am a proud re-reader, something i know certain people find incomprehensible. there are books that i have read several times, and know i will come back to again and again.  books, like music, evoke certain emotions. there are books that i know will tint my mood in a certain way, move me in a certain emotional direction, and so i pick them depending on what it is that i want them to do for me. much like music which i keep in mood-related playlists (mainly minor key, as i so... ahem... eloquently wrote in my drunk post), i reach for old books knowing exactly where they will take me.

new books are exciting in the not knowing, though i have found that i can depend on certain authors to maintain a fairly predictable emotional timbre. what i love, though, is how detailed, how specific that timbre can be. when i think of certain books, i know the exact shade or tonality of mood that they will elicit. for someone who has a history of depression, this has always been a godsend. instead of taking drugs or drinking much, i could self-medicate with a judiciously applied piece of literature*.

there is a light or darkness, a particular palette, a warmth or coolness, a sense of space or enclosure that each book brings. there are warm cozy books; books that spin the universe out of control just a little bit; books that take me outside of myself so that i don't want to return; books that scratch an itch; books whose words are like poetry, finely hewn and polished to a high gloss shine. i go through times where i read voraciously and times when i slow down. sometimes i read fluff, i admit it. but one of the main requirements i have of a book is that it is written with some degree of respect for language. genre is secondary to quality, without a doubt.

and there is that indescribable joy in finding a perfectly crafted sentence - each word unmistakably in its place, in the right order, falling like stones into a pool, creating ripples of pleasure.

i have been lazy with my reading in recent years, not really challenging myself as much as i could, but i have also decided that life being short, i shall read for the pure enjoyment of it. how do you read?

*yes, yes, i ought to have picked up a book instead of that third (or fourth) glass of wine...


Zhoen said...

I never re-read books, until nursing school, when I couldn't summon up the wherewithal to tackle anything new. I began to appreciate the joys of taking on a complex novel from a different perspective and seeing it as a work entirely new.

I've read Tinker, Tailor, Soldier Spy many, many times, and I think I finally figured out the smallest knot.

Tom said...

Agnieszka; I wonder whether you have considered the possibility that some of us do not mind sharing in your problems. Someone who appears to be always on top form, never has a problem, someone for whom the world is always beneficient, can come across as rather unreal. A balance is helpful but not mandatory.

I do find that I am an inveterate re-reader of mainly non-fiction. The reason is a simple one; I read to be stimulated. Of course not having access to bookshops I buy 'on-line', and that can be wasteful of resources. But most books that I keep are re-read because that feeds my stimulatory need. The same thing is true of my limited collection of fiction books, usually and sometimes lazily classified as science fantasy. J.R.R.Tolkien immediately comes to mind.

I agree with your comments about well crafted sentences, the 'right' use of words, parts of speech and verbs etc.. I have no objection to additions to language to maintain its aliveness, but I don't like change wrought by misunderstanding and laziness. I guess that's indicative of a certain conservatism in my thinking. The point of language, of course, is to communicate and be understood.

Perhaps the only writer I have come across who often does not adhere to strict rules of syntax is Prof. Needleman writing on matters spiritual. His circumvention of those rules brings a very personal, enforcing touch to what he has to say. And I enjoy that.

Well, I must let you get on. I hope you have an uplifting day to balance some of the troughs. It's all about right balance in the end.

agnieszka said...

zhoen - true, each re-reading does bring forth new observations and nuances of understanding.

tom - i agree that language is alive, but your comment is spot on: playing with language when one knows and respects its rules is delightful; using words or grammar sloppily because of stupidity is not. i liken it to painting like jackson pollock because you have worked your way through various techniques, understanding composition and light and colour, or painting like jackson pollock because hey! it's easy to splash paint on a canvas.

the auntologist said...

I'm on board for the ups and the downs, so keep on doing exactly what you're doing. I love reading your words.

agnieszka said...

hi auntologist, welcome, welcome. it's always lovely when a new commenter shows up and buffs my ego a tiny little bit. and thank you!