Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Tugging on the Edges of Your Universe

Yesterday I read an essay written by Chitra Divakaruni about her experience reading 300 novels in five months as one of the fiction judges in the 2000 National Book Awards. If I remember long division correctly, I think that boils down to about fifteen novels per week- and she wasn't reading Hank the Cow Dog. It sounded grueling. 
Photo Credit

Yet Divakaruni emerged from the experience a different sort of reader and writer. She primarily attributes the change not necessarily from reading so much in a short amount of time, but to the wide breadth of the writing she was exposed to. She was reading stories she might not otherwise have chosen to read.

I think we all strive to create lives that are comfortable to our tastes, whether it be our friends, our recipes, our wardrobe or the books we read. But what if we wander outside of those lines on purpose? I have lots of friends who are adventurous readers...on purpose. My sister RiLee rarely uses the same recipe twice because she is determined that the next great thing is available in her next issue of Bon Appetit. "Life is too short to re-use recipes," she told me over the holidays. Trying new recipes also appeals to me, but reading outside of my comfort zone doesn't. If I want to expand my literary universe, I'm going to have to push up my sleeves and dig in.

This is going to be my February project. I'm aiming for three books a week, which is about as much as I can handle without sending my kids to the neighbor's house to forage for dinner. For me, three books a week means one book on writing, one book I'm familiar with but have never picked up, and a referral. I would love your referrals. Whether a constant or fair weather reader, I would love to hear your book suggestions. This week I'm working on these three books:

This last one might seem like I'm a cheater pants since I love, love, love women's fiction. But I haven't read Quindlen in several years. So she's on this week's list!
Even if you aren't a die hard reader, I think Divakaruni's ideas are relevant. Try running on a new trail. Stop by the desk of a co-worker you hardly know. Give California Rolls a second chance. We might suprise ourselves with how much there is to see and know when we venture out of our usual neighborhood.


  1. Here's my list for you:

    Mother Said, by Hal Sirowitz
    The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery
    Anthem by Ayn Rand
    Freckles by Gene Stratton-Porter

  2. I love "Mother Said" so much I'm giving it to my mom and step-mom for Mother's Day.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...