Savages

Somehow, I always end up reading stuff written by or about Neil Gaiman for much longer than I intend to when I am waiting for sleep to find me in bed.

Here’s an abstract from an interview that he did with The New York Times about his reading life:

Disappointing, overrated, just not good: What book did you feel you were supposed to like, and didn’t? Do you remember the last book you put down without finishing?

No. Perhaps because there have been few books in recent years I actually broke up with, realizing we were not right for each other. There are instead books I have stopped seeing, and vaguely intend to finish one day, the next time I run into them, but they are vaguer, more general things.

I remember the first book I didn’t finish, though. It was “Mistress of Mistresses,” by E. R. Eddison. I was around 17, and I’d finished every book I’d started before then. It was inconceivable to me not to. I’d read and mostly enjoyed Eddison’s “The Worm Ouroboros,” a fantasy epic written in a lush, thick, cod-Elizabethan style that started off irritating and then became part of the fun. I bought “Mistress of Mistresses” and abandoned it a third of the way through. It was gloriously liberating, the idea that I didn’t have to finish every book.

But mostly, I did. If I started it, I’d read it to the end: until I found myself a judge of the Arthur C. Clarke Awards in the U.K., and obliged to read every science-fiction book published in the U.K. in the year of eligibility. I was a judge for two years. The first year, I read everything. The second year, I read a lot of first chapters and took delight in hurling books across the room if I knew I would not be reading the second chapter.

Then I’d go and pick them up again, because they are books, after all, and we are not savages.

That last bit (in bold) – I feel as if that sentence has taken my heart, wrung the blood out, placed it back in its cavity and then pretended that it hasn’t done anything at all. [I am sure it did all of that systematically and purposefully.]

Because that is exactly how I feel about books too.

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