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It’s not that you expect anything in particular from this particular book. You’re the sort of person who, on principle, no longer expects anything of anything. There are plenty, younger than you or less young, who live in the expectation of extraordinary experiences: from books, from people, from journeys, from events, from what tomorrow has in store. But not you. You know that the best you can expect is to avoid the worst. This is the conclusion you have reached, in your personal life and also in general matters, even international affairs. What about books? Well, precisely because you have denied it in every other field, you believe you may still grant yourself legitimately this youthful pleasure of expectation in a carefully circumscribed area like the field of books, where you can be lucky or unlucky, but the risk of disappointment isn’t serious. By Italo Calvino, If on a winter’s night a traveler

The Boston Globe recently interviewed Paul Farmer about his reading habits. Love that he’s reading Stieg Larsson translated into Spanish. Excerpts below, full interview here.

BOOKS: What did you have on this most recent trip?

FARMER: I had “To End All Wars’’ by Adam Hochschild. I did schlep this giant bestseller by George R.R. Martin, “A Song of Ice and Fire.’’ Those are the doorstops. I like to read Spanish because it’s so beautiful, so I read the second of Stieg Larsson’s books, “The Girl Who Played With Fire,’’ in translation. I wish I could have told you I was reading “One Hundred Years of Solitude’’ in the original. You caught me at a time when I’m reading a lot of junk.

BOOKS: Which did you like the best?

FARMER: For the beauty of the language, the Larsson book, not because of Larsson but because of the translation. I liked “To End All Wars’’ the best in terms of learning things I didn’t know. I’ve read all of Hochschild’s books. I love the way he writes. This huge series the American public is eating up, these Martin books, once you are in, it’s hard to get out. I’m on the third book.

BOOKS: When did you start reading in Spanish?

FARMER: I began working as a doctor in Peru in 1994. I learned Spanish just from seeing patients. By the third year I could ask, “Are you coughing up blood?’’ But I couldn’t ask, “How is your family?’’ One way to learn a language is to take a work you know really well and then force yourself to read it in that language. So I started reading Spanish. Of course I started with “The Lord of the Rings.’’