Thursday, December 13, 2007


Critical thinking falls by the wayside

A follow-up on the previous post. I've been mulling some things over since then. As folks may have noticed, I tend to become extremely effusive about whatever book I'm currently reading. I notice this about myself, so I assume it's also obvious to others at this point. Holding a book, reading, thinking, This is one of the best books I've ever read! I think what I'm actually responding to is the depth of the author's sense of human-ness, if that makes any sense. I respond to prose that shows me that the author is thinking about big universal themes, often using the context of the exploration of the particular. Cookery, say. But whatever the particular context is, it always equates (as I said in the previous post) with living well, with living fully, with joy and gusto and pain and loss and verve and love. And I read one book after another with this same essential response (Louise Andrews Kent, Montaigne). So I feel as if I'm writing the same book review again and again. Do I only read great, readable books? No. Do only great, readable books make it into print? No. So I err on the side of love. And I can only conclude that I don't have a strong faculty for critical thinking. Discerning, yes. Critical, no. Should I be concerned about this, or just keep reading? (This is a hypothetical question, because of course I will keep reading, but I still welcome others' thoughts on this.)

By the way, I just finished Mary Wesley's novel, Part of the Furniture. Holy mackerel, it was strange and terrific. The last book she wrote. Possibly her best. How's that for a review.

Interesting post. When I took my English degree I got so sick of studying novels from a Marxist/Feminist perspective etc etc that I've have made a point of reading only for pleasure ever since!

Talking of which, I'm reading Mary Wesley's A Sensible Life right now. The only other novel I've read by her is The Camomile Lawn but I'll look out for the title you mentioned.
Glad to hear you're only reading for pleasure (Mary Wesley, to boot - I tore through most of her novels this fall, and the biography "Wild Mary")... thanks, Nicola.
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