Reading Lists

I probably began keeping reading lists when I was about eleven or twelve years old. At that time I had the privilege of using several dusty little used bookshops in Hollywood as personal lending libraries. The earliest lists here are bits copied from scrawls in notebooks dated 1963. Even the 1970s and 1980s lists are sketchily extracted from journals and travel logs and quite incomplete. Some books I recall vividly, as if I had read them yesterday, others have quietly slipped from memory. There are repetitions, lapses; some have comments that could be remnants of reviews I wrote. Some books I seem to read every few years; others were skimmed in preparation for writing articles, doing research, taking exams or teaching. Finding it fascinating to look back at what I read in earlier years, I began keeping a somewhat more dedicated list, and have kept it up over the decades. Titles marked with asterisks (***) are my favorites.

These lists are an Immediatist project: fragile, unique, gratuitous. All in all, they form a portrait, a sort of autobiography in which changes, signs of stress, travel, trauma, new spurts of interest, obsessions and threads are legible, at least to me. There is both a consistency of certain themes and a widely branching pattern of topics. Does what we read become a part of us? WHO was it reading those things at the time? Where is she now?

——Marina LaPalma