Sunday, December 5, 2010

How I read

     I have my book, a pen and a cup of tea.  I hold the book with both hands to feel its weight and the texture of its cover.  I run my fingers over the edges of the pages so that they can fly through the air.  I smell it and touch it to my cheek.  Then I open it, not to the page I last read, but much earlier than that.  I read over the sections that I have underlined.  I re-enter its world and remind myself of where I am.  I often long to connect with the text in ways that expand my experience.  So I write notes on post-its of images to include on its pages.  I hunt for those images in my massive picture collection or on the internet and carefully tape them onto the pages so that the text is not permanently covered.  The images become new pages that I can flip up to reveal their connections underneath.  Sometimes I use other materials to illustrate an idea.  I have included little bags of sand, sticks, quotes from other books, postcards and fabric.  I have sewn a design with thread onto a page.  At times, I have attached photographs so that the book also becomes a personal journal.
     My favorite book is "Red" by Terry Tempest Williams.  I read it several times and then visited the red rock desert of Utah to observe its beauty first hand.  I carried the book with me as I traveled.  It became a scrap book, photo album and work of art.  I felt as though I had entered the book and treasured it as both an object and a spiritual experience.  I keep it on a shelf with many other books that I have examined in  the same way.  I visit it sometimes and re-enter its world.   That's how I read.



Patricia Markert said...

Dear Penelope,
Thank you for being such an inpsired reader. I love the way reading lets you travel in space and time, and forget who you are, yet allow you to be more truly who you are at the same time. Connecting personally to what the author says is so liberating and essential. I love how you connect in a visual and tactile way.

There is nothing like getting lost in a book,or finding yourself in a book.


River Muse said...

I'm always amazed by your involvement, tactile , emotional and intellectual, with your reading material. I am intimidated by the prospect of "mutilating" literature, probably ingrained by generations of librarians(sorry PMA.) Anyway, read on!

Patricia Markert said...

Ah yes, the library nazis who would rather keep you out and under control than let you in -- but I hope that this stereotype is dying. I think that what Penelope does with her books proves that she owns them. Libraries are for shared books, which is why sometimes at the return bin we get books back that have been dropped in the bathtub or chewed by unknown animals.