I read most novels slowly, disciplining myself to no more than 20 pages a day. I treat that time with the characters in the novel as a visit to another, separate place. I learn from novels and consider what I've read as how it relates to my life. Days that include a novel get close to being perfect. I just finished Any Human Heart by William Boyd, written as a journal kept by an English writer through every decade of the 20th century. He moved within cultural circles and over the course of the book drops names of acquaintances, (Virginia Woolf, Pablo Picasso, the Duke and Duchess of Windsor, Frank O'Hara) casually, and with a ring of truth. Throughout, he ponders the meaning of life.
from page 203
"Thank Christ, I didn't plant an oak. Is that a good definition of marking the aging watershed? That moment when you realize - quite rationally, quite unemotionally- that the world in the not-so-far-distant future will not contain you: that the trees you planted will continue growing but you will not be there to see them."
from page 401
"Those were the years when I was truly happy. Knowing that is both a blessing and a curse. It's good to acknowledge that you found true happiness in your life - in that sense your life has not been wasted."
Pictured are just some of the perfect days from the millennium journal I kept from November 1998 - February 2001.