Thursday, February 3, 2011

"Leave Me Alone, I'm Reading" by Maureen Corrigan

Published: 2005
Read: 2011
Genre: memoir
Rating: 3
Review: Goodreads

While in the section of the library that houses books on books and books on reading, this title, Leave Me Alone, I'm Reading: Finding and Losing Myself in Books jumped out.  Ahhh - from an obvious book lover and avid, even obsessive reader.  Who reads books to escape from life and conversely, to find out about life, or more specifically, about herself.  The first sentence in the introduction grabbed me:
"It's not that I don't like people.  It's just that when I'm in the company of others - even my nearest and dearest - there always comes a moment when I'd rather be reading a book."
The apple did not fall far from the tree, at least on her father's side as he was an avid reader.  Her mother, however, was a different story.  But Corrigan attributes her ability to write book reviews for NPR's Fresh Air as well as several other publications meant for the average reader, to the practice of sharing books in an interesting way to her non-bookish mother.  She is also a Professor of Literature at Georgetown University and thus has the enviable job of reading for a living.  Doing what she loves to do during work hours - a free person.  The idea of being "free" comes from a quote, also in the introduction, by Eric Gill, a British social critic:
"The free man does what he likes in his working time and in his spare time what is required of him.  The slave does what he is obligated to do in his working time and what he likes to do only when he is not at work." 
Unfortunately, I am in the "slave" category as what I do during work hours is what is needed to pay bills, provide benefits for my family, etc.  What I'd rather be doing is read, read, read.  My secret dream is to be independently wealthy so I could do just that.

I struggle to write a meaningful review on the rest of her book as there were many parts, frankly, that I skimmed.  She talks about three genres that have meaning in her life: the female version of the extreme-adventure story, the hard-nosed detective story and stories that reinforced the Catholic, pious, self-suffering theology.  I was interested in the first third of the book and that's about it.

Similar to Manguel, she "peppers" reflections about her life with gleanings from books: characters, settings, themes and quotes.  And vice versa.  It is as if a giant file cabinet filled with all sorts of details from beloved books reside in their heads, ready to be pulled out at will.   I would like to incorporate this type of thinking in my own journaling.

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