I once read somewhere that regardless of whether we remember a book’s thesis or indeed whether we read the book at all, we are fundamentally and subconsciously changed by every book we read.
I reference this unattributable statement in order to justify a further statement of dubious attribution: the best reading lists are linear. Rather than clustering what we choose to read around genres, recommendations, or awards (I am a sucker for the Booker Long List), we should allow one book to logically lead to the next, crossing personal proclivities and sub-cultural biases.
Bibliographies, name dropping, fuzzy historical periods and mysterious philosophical movements are the stuff: Where did they find that? I’ve never read her? What else was happening then? What does that mean?
It’s this paradigm that I try to employ in constructing my nightstand – i.e. The books I intend to read each month. A remarkably diverse list for being essentially linear.
Take This Bread: A Radical Conversion by Sarah Miles
Solace: A Novel by Belinda McKeon
The Morning Star: A Novel by Andre Schwarze-Bart
An Anatomy of Addiction: Sigmund Freud, William Halsted and the Miracle Drug Cocaine by Howard Markel
Madhur Jaffrey’s World Vegetarian
Being and Nothingness by Jean-Paul Sartre
Castle Rackrent by Maria Edgeworth
Can you draw the thread?