A smoke and a swim in the midnight lake always start me pontificating.
advice to a young reader
If I could start my reading life over, here’s a few things I would tell to my young self:
1. Annotate. A lot. Write summaries in the back. Copy quotes of favorite lines. Dog ear pages. Star passages. Writes notes about how this rings true at this point in your life. ie: “Miller’s exasperation at not being able to write what he thinks rings so true now as I’m struggling through the Billie piece in Berlin.”
My personal method is an unobtrusive star and a dogearred page on the good lines. Then write all the lines in the back so you have a one page summary of your favorite bits. CS Lewis said ‘real readers reread.’ But I’ll never have time for that. If I spent the rest of my life just reading books recommended by friends, I could never get through the list. That’s my main motivation for clones with a shared memory database. Set one to the modern fiction and ancient mythology of Japan. Another to soak up every scrap from the Beat Generation. Two to read the Russians, “with that certain heavy tone people put in their voices when they say, ‘I’m reading the Russians’.” as Brautigan said. But the clones are a short story for another day.
2. In the back cover, write where you bought the book, where you read it. Write your feelings as you finish it. Make each book a walk down memory lane to be enjoyed in your sunset. Also for the notes about sex and drugs to be used against you by snoopy children.
3. Each book gets a permanent bookmark from the deitrus of paper that floats through your life – ticket stubs and event flyers. Little notes from friends. Leave the bookmark at a favorite passage so you can always open it right to a fine gem – useful for orating in your library at a captive audience.
Eric Miller adds, “I would say to keep in mind that authors, like directors, have distinctive styles, so if you find someone you like, read everything he’s got. Don’t feel obligated to hit titles just because they’re canonical.”