Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Heather Hartley, On Reading

"At university, any way to make money seemed like a good way—at least for a couple of hours. From fish market monger to cork sandal seller to grammar tutor, it was all about pocketing cash for rent and summer trips and lipsticks. Reading was not first on my list in those days.

Then I was hired by the rare books library and it was there that divinity appeared to me, in my own hands, in the form of leather-bound, gilt-stamped volumes of Mark Twain: Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, The Innocents Abroad, Roughing It. Even the scent of work was divine. And suddenly, those satiny glints of Daring Rose, Lilac Sky and Wicked Brown didn’t seem quite as crucial.

I would sneak in a chapter of Huck and his adventures amidst the shelving. Paragraphs were slipped in while cataloguing. I could not stop reading. I bought paperback copies to mark up at home. As any good university student, I stayed up late at night—but now it was to read. And books—those amazing blocks of godliness—took precedence in my co-ed life and on my shelves. Move over, Kicky Carmine Sunset, make way for words."

Heather Hartley is the author of Knock Knock and is Paris Editor for Tin House magazine. She curates Shakespeare & Company Bookshop’s weekly reading series. Visit her website here for more information.}

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