Maybe it’s just the end of the semester bearing down on me, but I’m feeling overwhelmed in a number of ways. Overwhelmed by work, yes, but also by too much information, too much information, even, about books. Do you have the sense, sometimes, that there is simply way too much to learn and keep track of and explore?
For example, I usually take a look at the New York Times Book Review on Sunday mornings, and this past week they had a special issue on fiction in translation. That’s great, but I flipped through it, recognizing only one of two of the names, and I couldn’t find the energy to focus on any one review to see if I might like the book enough to record the title and author on my to-be-read list. It’s not that I’m not interested, really; it’s just that I can’t seem to absorb any new names. I feel badly about this, because I really would like to learn about more authors, especially international ones, but at some point, my mind gets saturated with new information, and I simply can’t take any more in.
Mostly my experiences of reading book reviews and book blogs are positive ones, but at times, I feel myself pushing back against the flood of information coming from these sources. I look at book lists sometimes and I don’t see a familiar name, or I skim a blog post and don’t recognize the title and author the blogger is discussing, and I find myself wanting to run away rather than to find out more.
I don’t mean to sound whiny, and I’m sure at some point this spring or summer, I’ll be back to adding new books to my TBR list every day, practically, but I do think there are times when I need to retreat a little into familiarity. This probably accounts for my decision to read Gaskell right now; although I’m not all that familiar with her in particular, I’m very familiar with the kind of novel she writes and her time period. Victorian novels are a favorite kind of comfort read for me.
Perhaps I should save that special section on fiction in translation, though, for that time I’m itching for something new.