One Reader’s Bucket List

When most of us think of bucket lists—that enumerated set of things to do before dying—we assume international trips, jumping out of airplanes, at the very least hot air balloon rides. There’s nothing wrong with such true adventures, but I have a parallel bucket list that emerged from my reading life.
It all started with Proust. A close friend and mentor bequeathed me his boxed three-volume set of Remembrance of Things Past (or In Search of Lost Time to more modern translators). After I retired, I finally began to read it which proved a meaningful and insightful experience, not least because my dear friend had made notations in the margins. I read it in the early mornings, house still silent, sky slowly lightening. Tea and Proust became a ritual. And I value memory in a way I never could have without it.
When I finally finished, I wanted something else so beautiful and challenging that only a few pages at a time would do. I looked at my three-volume set of Dante’s Divine Comedy and took it up, one canto at a time, and only in the predawn hour. With the cat purring, the tea steaming, I traveled with Dante from the Inferno, through the Purgatorio, and on into the Paradiso. I appreciate how the world can be so vast and small all at once more than I ever could have without that journey.
Next, my husband gave me a four-volume set of the Collected Poetry of Robinson Jeffers for Christmas. Now my hour of solitude is spent near a stone house and tower at Big Sur. No day can go wrong that starts there. Jeffers wrote intimately of nature, of a wild landscape expressed by the people inhabiting it complete with their follies and mistakes, and of the peace of death. There are gifts on every page.
Perhaps, my reading list is written in invisible ink, each author or poet becomes visible only when the last has been read. I know that each is a treasure to be cherished, their works belonging to the ages.
I hope you set aside some part of your day for reading that uplifts and intrigues be it prose or poetry, fiction or nonfiction. Make it something you always thought you might like to read if you got around to it. What might be on your literary bucket list?ImageKaren Wills

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