This past week I've been reading If on a winter's night a traveler by Italo Calvino. Yes, the capitalization in that title is correct. That's how Literary it is. (Yes, the capital L was intentional, too. That's how we seperate the literature from the Literature in the world of fancy book readin'.) I had also picked up Hyperbole and a Half, the web-comic-turned-memoir by Allie Brosh. Whether I read Brosh's book so you wouldn't find me too snooty, or if I read the Calvino book so you wouldn't find me too low-brow, I can't say. Maybe I don't even care what you think of me. So there.
Hyperbole and a Half was good. When we got a used copy in the store after multiple co-workers had been raving about it, I figured I might as well check it out. I got sucked in right away. Brosh deals with heavy topics (like her years-long struggle with depression) with a levity that would seem insulting if she wasn't talking about herself. Despite the hyperbole (ba-dum-ch), these chapters gave me an insight into depression that no memoir or article ever has. The chapters on her two stupid dogs are funny, too.
If on a winter's night a traveler is the first book by Italo Calvino I've read and the first book of Literature I've picked up in a long time. I've read some really excellent books, but none with the level of acclaim or as many confusing plot devices of which Calvino is overly fond. If on a winter's night a traveler is about the human experience with books. It's not a story, so much as it is an exploration of the different ways one can read, write, interpret, interact with, and produce novels. There is a lot of the second person "you" involved which was very off-putting at first, but after a while I gave into it and found the book a good experience overall. I really can't explain it any better than that without just directly quoting the back cover, so look it up yourself if you're interested.