Return to old reading


"Well Read'' (photo archival print mounted on board and overlaminated), by BOB HESSE, showing at Fountain Street Fine Art, Framingham, Mass.

I have had a little free time lately and have rediscovered the joys of  reading musty old books left on the bedside tables of friends' houses and apartments, in book-sale rooms in libraries and  even on the street. While I can still appreciate  the likes of The Magic Mountain and many other long  literary masterpieces (if reminded to do so), I confess that a well-wrought middle-brow novel (probably about "intelligent people'' with domestic conflicts in the suburbs or parts of Manhattan) with enough heft to get through a three-hour flight or part of a sleepless night will suffice.

As you get older, time circles back on you and you want to reread what you read in long summer weekends more than  half a century before, interrupting your reading every few minutes to look at the puffy clouds in a blue sky and the lush greenery below your window while smelling  the rich mixed aromas  of  lawn-mower  gasoline and wet  cut grass. From time to time, there's the shriek of a kid in the background, usually indicating happiness but sometimes a minor injury, usually inflicted by a sadistic child.At my rate, I'll be rereading the Doctor Doolittle series in no time, after returning to  C.S. Forester's naval novels, set during the ever-popular (among readers of history and fiction) Napoleonic wars.

Meanwhile, our great throw-out of old, asthma-inducing paperbacks stashed in the cellar continues. No one will read any of them again.

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