What is this song or picture, this engaging personality presented in life or in a book, to me? What effect does it really produce on me? Does it give me pleasure? And if so, what sort or degree of pleasure?
In 1989 a friend said to me, “I have so far to go in this life … I am so happy.” This came back to me when reading Washington Post literary critic Michael Dirda’s inspiring Book by Book: Notes on Reading and Life: There is so much to read and reread… let’s get cracking! I found engaging chapters that deal with “the pleasures of learning,” “the books of love,” and “the interior library.” Dirda describes his book this way: “In its character the result is a florilegium, a ‘bouquet’ of insightful or provocative quotations from favorite authors, surrounded by some of my own observations, several lists, the occasional anecdote, and a series of mini-essays on aspects of life, love, work, education, art, the self, death. There’s even, occasionally, a bit of out-and-out advice.” In this spirit, I will share a few lists, with gusto and gratitude. Read the rest of this entry »