Why I Read

July 31st, 2011

Lately, as my daily dose of literature has gone through the roof, I’ve begun asking myself why I read what I read. I’ve come up with a few standard answers — to impress people at cocktail parties, to improve my mind, to make up for the literature courses I missed. I might also say that I read the modern classics as a form of research, since I often find very telling passages to support (or disprove) my ideas about social customs of the past.

But perhaps the most compelling, or at least the most unusual, impetus for my literary selections has actually been a series of crushes on dead actors. Yes, I am here to admit in public that I first read:

Marlon Brando
Tennessee Williams because of Marlon Brando;

Bernard Shaw because of Claude Rains and Stewart Granger (swoon);

Peter O'Toole
T.E. Lawrence because of Peter O’Toole;

Leslie Howard
and Somerset Maugham for Leslie Howard.

Granted, this explanation doesn’t fit all of my recent reading material, but when I go on to say that each of these books then led me to other books, you will see that I actually read Confessions of an English Opium Eater in nearly direct response to What’s New Pussycat? And really, taken side by side, they are surprisingly analogous!

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