It’s funny how many people say they love Orwell (or Nabokov or Heller, etc.) when they’ve only ever read one (or occasionally two) books by them. I’m no different. With my favourite directors, I watch every one of their films. With my favourite bands, I listen to every one of their albums. So why don’t I read every book from my ‘favourite’ authors? And how did they become my favourites anyway when I barely know their writing at all?
I had no answer to that, but it was clearly a problem. So a few years ago, I set out to fix this by working my way through the bibliographies of some of these authors (often chronologically, ’cause I’m like that). Every month I read a Huxley, or an Orwell, or a Vonnegut. And when I discovered a new author I liked–Winterson or Pynchon, for example–I went back and read other stuff by them. There are of course a lot of good books from a lot of good writers but I feel I’ve been making progress. I’m proud to say I know more than just the catch-phrases now and, best of all, I’ve discovered some great lesser-read works along the way.
As it turned out, Homage to Catalonia was referenced extensively in On Anarchism which I just finished. And here I had picked Orwell this month for no particular reason at all and specifically this book to boot! I just love when things like that happen.
-Reading the Why