“This book is for anyone who is tired of living life on the surface, tired of letting cable news or daytime talk shows tell you what to believe, how to live, and what to think. It’s for people who want to learn how to read literature or better understand their book club’s latest selection. It’s also for those who’ve always wanted to read great books but never thought they could. It’s about changing your life one page at a time.”
“If you want to learn to read then you must read. That is the secret to reading, and that is the only secret worth knowing. Everything else is a distraction from that one fundamental truth. To read better you must read more. All the time. Every day.”
“I found my Mom’s copy of The Grapes of Wrath when I was fifteen years old and read it in a week, completely caught up in Tom Joad’s journey. Two years later I had to read it in high school, chapter by chapter, study question by study question, vocabulary word by vocabulary word, it was utter torture. I couldn’t believe this was the same book I had read and loved.”
from “ROMAN reading: 5 Practical Skills for Transforming Your Life Through Literature” by Nick Senger (blogs: ROMAN Reading and Literary Compass)
Nick Senger goes on to point out that books usually need to be read straight through the first time…. that books are in the phrase of John Gardner, “an organized and fictional dream that will eventually fill the reader’s mind.”
He also makes the comment, “One reason we read books is to change our lives.” I think this also applies to music, poetry and art.
Just as Senger (and Mortimer J. Adler before him) envisions reading as chatting with another human being, I feel that playing through music is a similar experience. I have chosen about six short piano pieces by Rene Touzet to learn. As I learn these pieces the logic of his mind comes through to me as a performer and interpreter. It’s very much like being in the same room with his elegance and interest in Cuban rhythms.
In his case, this is all the more intensified because I know he is pretty obscure. Apparently the only place you can get his music is music store in Coral Gables that his wife brought his remaining stock of published pieces. So he has left an interesting but hard to find path for pianists who are interested in his piano music. He had a performing and recording career and has left recordings of his songs. But these piano works (written in his retirement) make me think of Scarlatti. Scarlatti wrote most of his keybaord sonatas living in the shadows of the Spanish court. I say that because his genre was much less in the limelight in the court than opera. And like Touzet, he was doing it largely for its own sake. He didn’t have to develop the idiosyncratic language that comes out of his composing. He easily could have reeled off insipid tunes. But instead he created a little world of ideas and feelings all his own.
This puts me in mind of Touzet and others.
All of it ends up being conversations with other human minds not limited by time or space.
Kind of like the Internet, heh.