Reading in Circles

I recently posted a video on my YouTube channel about what I’ve been reading so far in 2011. Soon after posting the video, I finished up Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh and picked up The Best American Essays 2010 (BAE). And that’s when a circle that began earlier this month was laid out for me. I read in circles. It turns out that although I don’t read on a schedule or plan what books I’m going to read in the future, somehow the next book always finds me, or suggests other books that I should read.

from The New Yorker
A recent circle: Earlier this month I read a collection of George Orwell’s essays (Did you know his real name was Eric Blair? Neither did I), Books vs. Cigarettes. I liked it. I had read 1984 a few years before and bought this particular collection back when I was living in Exeter, England. I finally got around to reading it this year. Two books later, I picked up Waugh’s Brideshead Revisited and finished that earlier this week. Last weekend, I went to a dear friend’s house and borrowed a book. That book just happened to be Down and Out in Paris and London by none other than George Orwell. Only, that’s not all. So, when I finish the Waugh, I pick up BAE and what should I find inside but an article on George Orwell. THEN, because the circle is not yet complete, I was searching for Books vs. Cigarettes on Kenny’s Kindle to see if he could get it there. It wasn’t available, but guess what I did find. A book entitled The Same Man: George Orwell and Evelyn Waugh in Love and War. HOLY CRAP! If that’s not a circular reading pattern, I don’t know what is. I didn’t purchase Same Man and I have yet to read Down and Out or the Orwell essay in BAE (A Fine Rage by James Wood, first published in The New Yorker), but it still totally counts because I’m going to read it and yet another circle will be completed and probably in the process a new one begun. (Usually, my “circles” don’t consist of the same author again and again. It just so happened that Orwell was the common link this time.)

Most of my reading happens in this way. It’s half the joy I find in reading, the way literature is all connected in some regard. I understand that this makes me a big fat NERD, but who cares? As John Green said in one of his vlogs, “Nerds are allowed to be un-ironically enthusiastic about stuff. Nerds are allowed to love stuff, like jump-up-and-down-in-your-chair-can’t-control-yourself LOVE it. When people call people nerds, mostly what they’re saying is, ‘You like stuff.’ Which is not a very good insult at all. Like, ‘You are too enthusiastic about the miracle of human consciousness.’” 

(And no, I haven’t read Animal Farm. And no, I probably won’t read it. I have a particular sensitivity to animals suffering, being vilified, and oh yeah, dying.)
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