Great novels about loneliness, flying women, art. Riveting accounts of a French master and a mysterious continent. The Booker Prize-winning writer handpicks the stuff of dreams.
Sometimes people ask me what I think about when I am writing, and the answer is deceptively simple—I am thinking about the words on the page. The same is true of reading. For as long as you are reading the book, nothing else exists: not the heating bill, or the digger outside, not the boyfriend who hasn't yet called. This is why it is so hard to describe what a book is. Yes, when I am in the middle of writing, a book is like a love affair (and I think, when it is finished, I will never be able to love again). I look at the books on my shelf and think of them as friends. Books nurture us, as parents do. We can "sink into" them, as into a comfortable chair.
But books are not parents, or lovers, or friends, or items of furniture. A book is, for as long as it lasts, a state of being. So reading, for me, is closer to meditation, or to being drunk, or to dreaming than it is to anything else. The wonderful thing is that the kind of dreaming you get from a book makes real sense. Looking at the titles I have chosen here, I realize that they move either toward the dream or toward the real. Perhaps it is the tension between these two opposites that makes me write.
Anne Enright is the author of four novels, including The Gathering.
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From the April 2008 issue of O, The Oprah Magazine
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