Sunday, May 21, 2017

The Book Odyssey

I checked this out from the library last year and found that there was a reading list in the back which is when I decided that this would be a great candidate for what I call the book odyssey.  I slated it on my Librarything Reading Challenge for this year and have had some fun borrowing and buying the books that I need to read alongside Reading Lolita in Tehran.  I bought my own used copy, restored it as best as I could (cleaning, covering etc.,) and got myself  a nice green highlighter for the list in the back.  I am NOT one of those people who highlight text or write fatuous comments in the margins throughout the book, but this is a working copy ( I also have working copies of 1001 Books To Read Before You Die and Harold Bloom's The Western Canon which I also highlight, but I have no qualms about doing so because I am working out of each of them and I think of them as tools for my literary enrichment).  Plus I don't mar the text, just the lists in the back.
I call it a book odyssey because of the many places I go to and the experiences I have with reading each book that is referred to (which makes me think of Odysseus).  I really enjoy doing this (I allude to other times when I have read such books that are rich with literary references such as The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen Volume One and The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen Volume Two ) and seek to read the books referred to. It really enhances my enjoyment of the book I am reading.  I am always on the lookout for such books as they are an extraordinary source of reading indulgence and I often feel richer for the experience (even when some of the books are not what I would naturally choose to read).
What I mean by that is that Nafisi has a strong admiration of Vladimir Nabokov, and at the beginning of this odyssey I had only ever read Lolita which if you have read my blog entry about it you would understand that it was a repellent experience for me.  I saw that Nabokov had a gift for writing, and hoped that when I read something else of his I would get to appreciate that gift.  I have since then read Invitation to a Beheading which was sublime and has made me comfortable with the idea of re-reading Lolita sometime this year.
So it has been a very gratifying experience so far.    I have been in an all girls school with Muriel Sparks' The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, lived under siege in Nuha al-Radi's The Baghdad Diaries , hung out in Europe with  Henry James' Daisy Miller, floated around in the mind of Cincinnatus C. in Invitation to a Beheading, and been anxiously repressed in Bucharest with Saul Bellow's The Dean's December.  
The plan for this book odyssey is doing a little peeking ahead to see what books are mentioned, read those books, then proceed with the chapters in Reading Lolita until I encounter new books I haven't read yet. I have not progressed too deeply yet, but I love what I have read so far.  This project will probably exceed the year that I have allotted to complete it in because apart from the list in the back of the book I want to read everything else too by those authors mentioned.
To be continued...

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