The reader’s complaint

A Reading Note

A reader’s common complaint about a particular book is that it is not another book. Wishing for another book is wishing for one’s own book. Or, more accurately, for the representation of one’s own eccentric dream.

Barringer, There’s nothing funny about design, page 61

One could read this cynically, in that the reader disparages those that fail to live up to his imaginary expectations. But I prefer another approach: that this inherent dissatisfaction in reading is part of what drives the desire to read in the first place. I think of the librarians in Borges’ “The Library of Babel,” doomed to spend their entire lives searching an infinite library for a book they will never find. That they cannot succeed does not make their quest futile; it is the quest itself that matters.

Related books

Collected Fictions

Jorge Luis Borges

Short, surreal little tales that experiment with the form of the story and often take the library as their subject.