A guide for hungry bibliophiles
I wrote a feature on our hunger for reading for The Independent in Ireland: 'A guide for hungry bibliophiles'.
Starting with the voracious literary appetites of Albert Camus, I discuss how we can eat well, so to speak.
Camus consumed words, and then digested their fantasies of comedy and heroism, metabolising them until they were him. His desire for life pushed him to fight, to hammer, to kick - and crack those cloth spines, with their scent of ink and glue.
When I picture my own boyhood and youth, it is, among other things, less savoury, an endless meal of these literary courses. Like Camus, I was as starved for text as I was for salt water swimming and fried chicken and, later, a glimpse of thighs under the classroom desk. This was not simply a calculated choice or neutral preference - it was an urge.
My point is that reading is not just a cognitive pursuit. It is intellectual, of course: an achievement of high abstraction. But entangled with the cerebral is the visceral: passion, ardour, avidity, yearning. We readers are rational animals - but animals nonetheless, whose whole bodies feed on words.