The Reading Cure

One of the bookshelves Dustin built for me, described over at The Morning News.

A few years ago I checked myself into a hotel with a book. It was 2006, and I was on my way back from my first year teaching at Amherst College and headed to a Christmas celebration with my family. I misjudged the timing of my trains and planes and instead of making an uncomfortable connection, I decided to get an inexpensive hotel room in Boston. When I arrived, my plan was that I would just go into the hotel and read, alone.

I’d read Michael Cunningham’s The Hours, if you’re wondering. When she checked into the hotel with a book I felt only an intense wish to do the same. Here I was finally, making a deep pause in between what I’d been doing all semester and what I was about to do.  The hotel I chose was the Hotel 140,  which felt like a secret hotel, located on several floors upstairs inside 140 Clarendon Streeet—in the lobby it had the appearance of a normal office building.  I set my bags down, opened the window shades. It was almost sunset, late afternoon.  My grades were in. I pulled the book out, Chris Adrian’s The Children’s Hospital, opened it and began.

I read through the night into the next morning, taking myself out to a dinner. I recently found my menu from that night, at Petit Robert Bistro, nearby, which I wrote down in a diary as it was a perfect meal.

Moules Mariniere
Duck confit with grilled sausage
Glass of Vouvray
Glass of Bordeaux Superieure
Glass of Cognac, Pierre Ferrand, Selection des Anges

In a new essay up over at The Morning News, I talk about some of my reading habits and ways I tried to address a decline in my pleasure reading, or, as I like to put it, how the internet remapped my brain, and an e-book re-remapped it—and brought me back to books in general.

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3 thoughts on “The Reading Cure

  1. Marc says:

    I really enjoyed “I, Reader.” I’ve experienced similar feelings and find myself hesitating to ask for physical books for Christmas, yet refusing to ask my wife to gift me a Kindle book (if that’s even possible).

    Your comparison with news-media consumption vs. reading a novel also rang true to me. I’m actually working on Ulysses S. Grant’s memoir at the moment and find that it seems to immunize me against a lot of the panic that can set in when I browse the headlines.

    Wonderful prose, thank you.

    1. koreanish says:

      Thank you. It’s a fairly selfish device, is the thing, as it is now—it’s hard to “give” books to people when they’re e-books. Only recently is it possible to lend someone an e-book. And giving books, and lending them, these are big pleasures of mine.

  2. Mary says:

    Thank you. I’ve also felt similarly about many of the things you’ve described, especially reading the news as a way to search for the inciting spark that launches one into writing.

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