A few months ago, I'd estimate around October or November, I started noticing that my personal library was taking on a new form -- it seems that, over time, I have veered away from simply purchasing books that I want to read, and instead started purchasing books that have some sort of intrinsic value. For instance, I owned The Grapes of Wrath, East of Eden and Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck, so I purchased the rest of his collection: his short stories, lesser-known works from the early 60's and any other writing of his I could get my hands on. I did the same for James Joyce and F. Scott Fitzgerald.
My collection no longer was based on the presupposition that there were books that I wanted to read or were very interested in, it became an obsession to simply collect books. Over the course of a couple years, my collection, which started off with 50 books, at the most, swelled to its current number, 542.
One of the themes that I noticed developing was a miniature collection of Pulitzer Prize-winning novels; in my endeavor to collect "classics," I had haphazardly developed a collection of these books. So, I decided, since I already had a jumpstart on this particular collection, why not attempt to complete the collection? And, if that weren't enough, I thought "I don't want to just collect these books, I want to actually read them all." And then I thought "If I read all these books, I want everybody to know I read all these books. So, maybe I'll collect them all, read them all in one year and then write a memoir about the experience!" because I really am that pretentious.
But then something else occurred to me.
This endeavor, which is a huge undertaking, might not actually be as self-involved as I originally thought. See, I knew that if I told people, "Yeah, I read every single Pulitzer Prize winning novel in one year," that people would either be impressed, conclude that I way too much time on my hands or be impressed at the massive amount of time on my hands. I also knew that nobody would ask me, "So what did you learn about yourself and the world around you through this experience?"
Maya Angelou once said, "When I look back, I am so impressed again with the life-giving power of literature. If I were a young person today, trying to gain a sense of myself in the world, I would do that again by reading, just as I did when I was young."
And it is with that in mind that I am going to embark on this journey. I'm not going to do this thing to impress anyone, to prove how much of a connoisseur of literature I am or even to simply say that I did it. I'm going to tap into the mind-expanding power of literature and let it consume me. Without any presuppositions of truth or love or beauty, without any definition and without any clarity, I am going to allow these authors, and their words, to change me.
This is the first of many, many posts to come, however you will not find any Pulitzer-related entries on this site. To follow me on my journey, click your way over to another website, which will be registered later tonight.
- the drew