Posted in Books, Photographs, Poetry and Verse

Topsy-Turvy Reading

Tinting nowhere near finished...

Decided I couldn’t carry on reading Doctor Syn on the High Seas as it was so bad! Even when you think “it’s short and I’ll soon finish,” you find that you would rather do something else than pick it up.

Cast it aside in favour of A 2nd Helping of Chicken Soup for the Soul… I never read the first helping. Mum got this paperback from a stall and gave it to me years ago, and there it was taking up space on the bookshelves, so I decided to give it a go.

My first thought was that it’s annoying in places, and sets your teeth on edge in others, but there are some good, funny and genuinely touching bits, and is a much better read than Doctor Syn. I can pick the bits I want to read and skip the rest.

I’m reading all the books I probably won’t keep, in an effort to free up space on the bookshelves — and that’s a bit topsy-turvy, as it means I’m reading the less desirable books over the ones I’m cherishing (and not yet reading!) Mum said I should go through the classics  I probably won’t read again. I suppose she means Aeschylus and Aristophanes. But I’m always referring to them! Seriously…

The next day I was still ricochetting through the Chicken Soup when Mum came home and handed me two digital photography manuals from the library. So far the first book (50 Fast Digital Photo Projects by Gregory Georges and Lauren Georges) hasn’t taught me anything new (I think it’s for absolute beginners), but it did inspire me to go upstairs and try tinting a monochromatic photo of our shed.

This shoogly shed from Argos was the one Mum thought we would have to live in if the credit crunch really bit. I suppose having a print of it to sell wouldn’t be such a bad idea. We could run off 50 copies, and if nobody wanted to buy them, we could use them to paper over the cracks in the walls of our new home. I nearly said ‘100 copies’ but I think 50 copies would quite comfortably cover them.

I eventually got cross with the Chicken Soup book because chicken soup is meant to be comforting, and this wasn’t. There is a lot of material about saying or showing your love to family members before they die, and those are in sections such as ‘love’ and ‘family’. I skipped more and more (mopping at my eyes), and when we arrived at a whole section called ‘Death and Dying’, I gave up.

I would rather listen to Dido, and tint monochromatic images of our shed.

And I try to pick out tunes, I hum a little,
a good cure for sleep, and the tears start,
I cry for the hard times come to the house,
no longer run like the great place of old.

Oh for a blessed end to all our pain,
some godsend burning through the dark…

[The Oresteia by Aeschylus, translated by Robert Fagles]



I live in the UK with two cats -- Samson and Delilah.

9 thoughts on “Topsy-Turvy Reading

  1. I like the picture in progress 🙂

    I too have a too many books problem. The problem being, however, that at the present time I really don’t want to part from any of them! I think sometimes its hard to be firm on ourselves when it comes to clearing things out and trying not to be too sentimental. For example, I keep thinking that one day I will get through Ullysses, but it is unlikely – I’ve tried but can’t for the life of me understand what James Joyce is talking about. I also have far too many shoes and clothes and also need to sort those out. Its amazing how much clutter accumulates around human beings 😀

  2. I’ve found the Chicken Soup books to be a bit too saccharine for me. There’s the odd good story in there, but they seem to be focused no making me emotional…and I usually read to relax and learn or get awy, not be introspective or cry 🙂

    It’s hard to purge books isn’t it? We’re going through our computer area and relocating it and trying to donate any bookes we don’t really need to keep any more. Tough…

  3. Hi Sandy, lovely blog! I will have to go back for another read. I think the Chicken Soup book got me at the wrong time in my life… I might have read it all when younger, but find it a bit nerve-racking for now. This book has some strong fans on the Amazon site (judging by the reviews), so don’t let me put you off it. 🙂

  4. Purging books is distressing, though sometimes you can look at something you used to treasure and know with absolute clarity you wouldn’t take time out to read that again. There’s so much else on your list that beckons just as strongly. I gave my Silver Brumby books to the girl across the road. 🙂

    But there are others I will struggle to part with. I don’t think I’ll be letting Aeschylus and Aristophanes go just yet; I already went through the classics section three times, and those that survived are the ones I value the most. I’m more likely to find ‘get-rid-of-able’ books from the general paperbacks.

    As for accumulating clothes, there was a guy on the ‘Come Dine With Me’ who has 80 pairs of jeans! I only have one pair, but then he probably only has one teddy bear…

  5. Wow, 80 pairs of jeans! The mind boggles. But then I suppose it depends what means the most to you? Books mean the most to me, but then shoes and clothes are high on my happy list too! I managed to purge myself of a few things in my wardrobe today. There are some shoes and clothes either going to charity or being passed on to other people. Its good to know that other people might get some use and pleasure out of things you haven’t worn for ages.

    I worry about later on though – I’m in my 20s and have far too many possessions. I wonder what will happen when I have more space and over the years when I find I have far too many books to know what to do with, eek.

  6. Books, clothes (though we did a recent purge of those), and I seem to have a lot of sandals now… mostly because I’m mean about wearing nice new ones out in case they get muddy!

    Bears, and my camera gear is being added to…

    You’re right, it’s worrying to have too many things… storage, tidying/cleaning and transport problems, also ‘finding things’ problems, and not wanting to let go even when we need to. I think I have some more decluttering and tidying to do…. sigh.

  7. What got me off the book was the thought of all the books I would rather spend time on…. so you’re right; if it’s not to our taste, we’re better to move on. Life’s too short, and all that!

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