Reading Moby Dick, by Herman Melville. She's on page fourteen. She's tried to read it a few times before, but this time she is "cautiously optimistic." Before this she read Homer's Illiad and before that the anthologized Rising Up and Rising Down by William Vollmann. She said that commuting is a boon to reading. Before, when she lived in San Francisco, she used to commute just fifteen minutes to work but now, over the past year, she has a forty-five minute commute to and from Concord...and she's reading again--she was an English major in college. Moby Dick, she guessed, would take her about fifteen trips.
Her favorite book of all time--Middle March, by George Elliott, for the humanity of it. She said, "to me, reading is all about humanity and George Elliott did a fucking awesome job." Excuse the language. It was close to midnight and even with Melville, it was still going to be a forty-five minute commute home.
But, despite the late hour, she still recited to me, in Italian no less, the first page of Dante's The Inferno when I asked her if a book had ever changed her life. Here's the first few lines:
- Nel mezzo del cammin di nostra vita
- mi ritrovai per una selva oscura
- ché la via diritta era smarrita
For those of us who aren't language scholars--
In the middle of our life's walk
I found myself in a dark wood
for the straight road was lost
Whenever life is hard she finds herself repeating the first page of The Inferno. It's an analogy to everything hard and depressing. She likes the idea of having to delve into the woods and find herself again.