Why do we read diaries?

Louis Menand has a nice piece on the New Yorker about diary-keeping:

"The impulse to keep a diary is to actual diaries as the impulse to go
on a diet is to actual slimness. Most of us do wish that we were slim
diarists. It’s not that we imagine that we would be happier if we kept
a diary; we imagine that we would be better—that diarizing is a
natural, healthy thing, a sign of vigor and purpose, a statement, about
life, that we care, and that non-diarizing or, worse, failed
diarizing is a confession of moral inertia, an acknowledgment, even, of
the ultimate pointlessness of one’s being in the world. Still,
rationally considered, what is natural or healthy about writing down
what happened every day in a book that no one else is supposed to read?
Isn’t there something a little O.C.D. about this kind of behavior?
Writing is onerous (especially with an ultra-thin pencil)—writing feels
like work because it
is work—and, day by day, life is pretty
routine, repetitive, and, we should face it, boring. So why do a few
keep diaries, when diary-keeping is, for many, too much?…

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[Thanks JC]

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