ARE YOU READING OUT THERE???
So this is what my issue is lately:
Am I the only one that noticed, and am I talking to myself?
And if I am, and you run into me in the middle of a sentence, do you know what I’m talking about?
I’m talking about books – good old fashioned ones: with a beginning, middle and an end. (With apologies to Aristotle…) Novels. Fiction. Stories. A parallel universe that sucks you in the minute you turn the title page, and doesn’t let go of you until you come up for air, or for a bite to eat, or for some sleep. I am talking about absolutely delightful and great new books written by contemporary American Jewish writers such as Michael Chabon, Amy Bloom, and Phillip Roth. Books written by contemporary Israeli writers such as Yoel Hoffman, Meir Shalev, Alonah Kimhi. (And available in English)
Put down your laptops for a second, push aside the research notes you scribbled for your
next paper, and listen to me:
The recent explosion in available good books is so great, that it inspires book reviews and
Op-ed pieces that are almost as delicious as the books themselves. Treat yourselves to
Tim Rutten’s review of Chabon’s Gentlemen of the Road (Los Angeles Times, October 30, 2007, E1) and his thoughts about the pleasures of reading. Read Amos Oz’s op-ed piece in the same paper, a day later (Enemies, on the same page), reflecting on the power of the novel to transfer and transform you, and the power of literature as a bridge between people. Don’t tell me that you have no time to dabble in reading for pleasure – I won’t believe you!
Just as Rutten pulled the blanket over his head and used a flashlight under the covers to read past curfew (and didn’t we all, at one time?) – let's pull the proverbial blanket over our head and dive into a good book. It may stir and provoke us as well as entertain us (Rutten), but it can do more than - it will help us to get into each other’s head, imagine the other, helps us become better people (Oz). And good novels do all that, and more.
So here is a challenge to my Los Angeles readers: if anything I just said and/or quoted is so irresistible that you find yourself holding a novel that was gathering dust on your shelves and are about to embark on a literary adventure; if I made you rush to the nearest library or bookstore and grab a book, and if you are looking for a venue to share your newly discovered pleasure of reading for fun – I will provide that venue. With your help I will launch the Los Angeles HUC-JIR book club – in the library, in my house, at the Starbucks across the street – wherever five or six or (dare I?) ten of us can get together and talk about our newly discovered imaginary friends and the ways in which they make us feel GOOD.
You know where to find me.