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Take the Pillow From Your Head and Put a Book in it

Here’s Margaret Atwood on what she reads:

I like to read at night before bed, too, though it can give you some pretty horrific nightmares–and a stiff neck, because of the position of your head.

Really, though, I will read anything at any time. If there’s nothing else available I will read airplane shopping magazines. You find out some pretty interesting things in there, actually. You think: “Somebody invented this. They actually sat in a room and invented it. And then they went out and raised the money and they manufactured it and now it’s in the airplane shopping magazine.” Boggles the mind.

I used to read the backs of cereal boxes but I’ve kind of exhausted their possibilities. Advertisement used to provide a lot more reading material than it does now‹ads have become too pictorial. They used to have a lot more print. They used to be more narrative. Story ads were still going strong in the forties, and to a certain extent in the fifties. I think it probably started to change in the sixties. They used to have little poems. They used to have quizzes.

I’m a reading junkie, I guess. It’s the fault of my upbringing. I was brought up in the north where there weren’t any other forms of media–other than print. I certainly learned my first French off the backs of cereal boxes. This is Canada: “Eh! Les enfants! Special offer. Collect the box tops.”

I think it’s curiosity that drives me to read. I don’t think “entertainment” quite covers it. It’s not that I’m indiscriminate in my appreciation–I like to feel that I can tell an apple from a pear, and I don’t expect from the pear what I might expect from the apple. In other words, if I’m reading Conan the Conqueror I’m not demanding that it be Middlemarch. They have different things to offer. But in some cases you get led to fine experiences through very devious pathways.

Categories:  1: Featured  Bookish  Creative Process

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One comment

1 ericmccarthy   ~  Jun 24, 2011 7:08 am

As a librarian, I approve!

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