The act of reading ... begins on a flat surface, counter or page, and then gets stirred and chopped and blended until what we make, in the end, is a dish, or story, all our own.
— Adam Gopnik

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November 5, 2012

Unread books

... He gestured for her to follow him and led the way into a room off the back of the hall. 'The library,' he said. 'Rather a lot of unread books.'
      Her eyes went to the shelves that stretched up to within a few inches of the ceiling. All four walls were covered, piles of books stood here and there, teetering, vulnerable she judged, to the slightest footfall. 'But who doesn't have a lot of unread books? It's nice, though, just to know that they're there.'
      He picked up a book that had been placed on the edge of a nearby shelf. 'I suspect you've read  much more than I have. Scott. You know, I've only read one of his novels? Just one. Rob Roy.'
      'Scott was very prolix. You can't read everything. I've never got beyond the beginning of Proust. I love him, but I can't seem to get beyond about page three.'
      They were comfortable in each other's company, and this confession seemed to accentuate the ease of their relationship. The confession itself was not entirely true; Isabel had read more Proust than that but other people undoubtedly found it reassuring to think that one had only read a few pages. Certainly those who claimed to have read Proust in his entirety got scant sympathy from others. And yet, she suddenly wondered, should you actually lie about how much Proust you've read? Some politicians, she reminded herself, did that -- or the equivalent -- when they claimed to be down-to-earth no-nonsense types just like the voters when all the time they were secretly delighting in Proust ...

from The Uncommon Appeal of Clouds, by Alexander McCall Smith

{photo of  Eudora Welty's house and books, found here}


Nan said...

I just knew that was AMS as I read along. No one thinks the way he does.

Claire (The Captive Reader) said...

Isabel is so right about people - especially politicians - dumbing themselves down so as not to intimidate others. I gave up on this series a long time ago (I never liked Isabel) but I still love reading passages like this and they remind me of why I enjoy AMS so much.

Kimberlee said...

Hi I just stumbled across your blog and I love it. We share so many similar tastes that I just had to become a follower of your blog. I hope you will find the time to come over and check my blog out. Hope to see you there and Happy Reading!


Anonymous said...

Such a delightful passage. I have yet to properly read any AMS but I have long since been fascinated with his choice of titles. I do have a hardcover copy of 'The Dog Who Came in From The Cold' sitting on my shelves looking very inviting....

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