A Year In Reading: Maria Popova (Brainpicker)

December 6, 2012 | 1 book mentioned

This was the year I discovered the diaries of Anaïs Nin, which she began writing at the age of eleven and wrote until her death in 1977. The resulting sixteen volumes of published journals are a treasure trove of insight on twentieth-century literary culture, the art of writing, human nature, the life of meaning, and the meaning of life. What makes Nin particularly mesmerizing is that she fuses the rigor of a nonfiction writer and the poetic reflection of a novelist, writing with equal parts vulnerability and courage.

coverThis was, in fact, the year of the diary for me. As Consciousness Is Harnessed to Flesh: Journals and Notebooks, 1964-1980, the second published volume of Susan Sontag’s diaries, took my breath away – an intimate glimpse of the inner life of a woman celebrated as one of the twentieth century’s most remarkable intellectuals, yet one who felt as deeply and intensely as she thought. Especially enchanting is the evolution of her relationship with love over that decade and a half, as Sontag settled into her own skin not only as a dimensional writer but as a dimensional human being.

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Don’t miss: A Year in Reading 2011, 2010, 2009, 2008, 2007, 2006, 2005

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thinks and writes about science and art, poetry and philosophy, children's books and our search for meaning — about what it means to live a life of purpose and gladness, wonder-smitten by reality. She is the creator of The Marginalian (born in 2006 under the outgrown name Brain Pickings and included in the Library of Congress permanent digital archive of culturally valuable materials), the author of a very thick, very yellow book titled Figuring and a very slender, very colorful book titled The Snail with the Right Heart, and the maker of The Universe in Verse—a charitable celebration of the wonder of reality through stories of science winged with poetry.