In my case, reading has always served a dual purpose. In a positive sense, it offers sustenance, enlightenment, the bliss of fascination. In a negative sense, it is a means of withdrawal, of inhabiting a reality quarantined from one that often comes across as painful, alarming or downright distasteful. In the former sense, reading is like food; in the latter, it is like drugs or alcohol.
In Autobibliography, Rob Doyle recounts a year spent rereading fifty-two books - from the Dhammapada and Marcus Aurelius, via The Tibetan Book of the Dead and La Rochefoucauld, to Robert Bolano and Svetlana Alexievich - as well as the memories they trigger and the reverberations they create. It is a record of a year in reading, and of a lifetime of books.
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