Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Why I Read by Jennifer Traig

An occasional feature in our email newsletter is the "Why I Read" column. We've collected some wonderful short essays on the topic from fine writers over the years. Here's what author Jennifer Traig (Devil in the Details, Well Enough Alone, etc.) had to say when we asked her:

I read because there are places I can’t bring my TV and if I’m not stimulated every second of the day my teeth ache with boredom. I read while I walk, while I knit, while I bathe, while I eat. Especially while I eat. My books are, essentially, two-hundred page placemats, stained beyond all recognition with greasy fingerprints and spilled spaghetti sauce.

I read because I can’t stand not to. I get panicky when I don’t have reading material, scanning my surroundings for any words I can find. I have memorized the Muni Night Owl schedule. I know exactly what to do in an emergency on BART. A short list of things I have read when nothing else was available:

· My parents’ Maxima owners’ manual

· AARP magazine

· “Iron: Are You Getting Enough?”

· “Some Facts on Herpes”

· LOTTOPeople Magazine

· Burpee seed catalog

· Map of Los Angeles

· The back of a Safeway receipt

· BEEF (America’s #1 cattle magazine)

· My Kaiser member handbook

· LL Cool J’s autobiography, I Make My Own Rules

I’m sort of lying about that last one. I had other things to read. But it’s true: Ladies Love Cool James, and the book has its moments.

PS. Other installments of the series await you by Beth Lisick, Susan Choi, Peter Rock, Dave Eggers, Daniel Handler, TC Boyle, Joyce Maynard, Peter Carlson, and Peter Coyote.

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