tired of your world?
try on another’s skin
read a book
I used to read all the time, but it’s an ability I’ve largely lost. I dip in and out of this book or that, and it can take me a long time to finish anything. Today, though, I found out that books still have their place in the world, even in mine.
I’m upset just now about a lot of different things, some of which won’t be resolved any time soon. There’s nothing I can do but wait. I couldn’t concentrate on anything I was meant to be doing, so curled up on the sofa and read.
I was previously dipping into this book for minutes at a time, worried I wouldn’t finish by its library due date, but today wrapped it round me like a blanket and read all afternoon and evening: Elizabeth is Missing by Emma Healey.
It was brilliant and I would recommend it whole-heartedly. It upset me a lot. 😀
I know that doesn’t sound so good, but I don’t regret reading it. It gives me a different understanding of what it must be for people to go through memory loss.
The main character talks about being treated like she’s back in school… I could relate to that, as the same thought flashed through my head during a meeting with a nurse. Being talked to like I was six was a very big reason I rebelled and refused to have anything more to do with her proposed anxiety treatment.
Yet anxiety is a horrible thing… I wonder why it should hit me so hard that I needed to pull up the drawbridge and hide inside a novel. I don’t think anything will change me, and maybe it’s not out of the ordinary… we all get overwhelmed at times. I wonder what life would be like if no one ever felt fear?
Whatever… I was surprised how quickly I went from only being able to concentrate for a few minutes to spending hours reading. People talk about how the internet and ‘information overload’ has changed the way we read, think and engage. Perhaps, but I don’t believe it’s a permanent change. If for any reason you mentally disengage yourself from your internet habit, you can still take up a book as though nothing else exists.
Have now begun Dark Eden by Chris Beckett.
‘Hmmph, hmmph, hmmph, went the trees all around us, pumping and pumping hot sap from under the ground.’
See you when I get back. 🙂
I wrote this a while back but didn’t have the energy to post it:
Wednesday 16 Jan 2008
Arose relatively early because a plumber was coming to mend the basin in the bathroom. He went away to fetch something, and we were drinking coffee and waiting for a phone call from the vet. I was reading Vinyl Cafe with a blanket over my knees. Mum suggested the vet might have emailed me, so I came up here to check. There were no emails, but I noticed today’s horoscope.
“Even though lots of exciting and important things are going on right now, you will be gifted with a nice chunk of free time in your day – maybe a meeting gets canceled or your flight gets delayed. This oasis of time is not something you should waste!”
I thought, “oh dear, I was sitting downstairs reading. I wasn’t getting on with things.”
The horoscope went on: “Be prepared for the lull with a good book, magazine or your journal. Savor the chance to get out of your routine and into a more reflective, intellectual course of thinking. You will get recharged by the practice.”
I was annoyed by all the ‘gets’ in that, but… AH HA! I’m glad they said reading is not a waste of time. I should fall out of the habit of thinking that it is. I got into feeling that way that at school and university… it was something to do with studying for exams. Reading for exams isn’t the same as reading for pleasure, and so I learned to feel guilty whenever I sat down with a book I was enjoying for its own sake.
I have seen this book meme around a few times and nobody was tagging me for it, mostly because they don’t know me. Today I thought I could do it anyway – and then I dropped in to visit Pacian at Space Cat Rocket Ship, and he tagged everybody who visited! So here’s my excuse.
1. One book that changed your life.
They probably all changed my life by degrees, influencing my thoughts or giving me fresh inspiration. I can’t think of a single book that changed my life more than any other. Nothing pushed me down a specific career path. I didn’t want to become a vet after reading If Only They Could Talk by James Herriot, nor did I decide to become a secret service agent and circus acrobat after reading E. E. ‘Doc’ Smith. Maybe I’m not all that impressionable, and found it easy to see past the glamour to the gore, hard work and sadness, or maybe I’ve always been more interested in writing than living…
2. One book that you’ve read more than once.
Cranford by Elizabeth Gaskell. Slim, old, English. Amusing and sad. Must have read it four times or so.
3. One book that you’d want on a desert island.
Something fat and entertaining that I’ve never read before. Or the complete set of books by Jean M Auel. Or something that would tell me how to build a rudimentary shelter, or how to crack open coconuts without losing the juice. I would want a complete library on this desert island, as well as some blank journals in which to write about my experiences.
4. One book that made you laugh.
Merry Hall by Beverley Nichols. It’s attractive, refreshing, funny, and very English. I suggested it to an informal Book Club. Most of the other members lived in America and said they went to their libraries and couldn’t obtain it, as it wasn’t available. Some of them tried to buy it and discovered it wasn’t cheap. So they gave up, which was disappointing – but one determined lady returned to her library and said she would like to read this book if they ordered it in – and they did! She took it home and read it, and so did her husband, and she said she’s glad she went to all the trouble as it was just their cup of tea.
The Book Club fizzled out quite quickly because nobody ever seemed to want to get a recommended book for this reason or that (I found a surprising number of the books in charity shops or on eBay, so it wasn’t that difficult) – but I still feel something important was accomplished… there’s a library out there that has a good book in stock because of this short-lived club and because of a member who wouldn’t give up.
5. One book that made you cry.
Jennie by Paul Gallico. Fantasy novel about cats. Very charming, detailed, interesting and sad.
6. One book you wish you had written.
The Unlikely Ones by Mary Brown. Fantasy. I wasn’t expecting much from it as it had just fallen into my hands in a bundle of unwanted paperbacks… but it was imaginative and charming, and I’m not going to give it away!
7. One book you wish had never been written.
A few rather dark books I got rid of so quickly I can’t even remember what they were called or who wrote them. I do this with horror books, especially cruel or satanic ones.
8. One book you’re currently reading.
Only yesterday I finished Make Room! Make Room! by Harry Harrison (a slim science fiction novel which should be required reading for everyone. I wrote a little about it here). Have just started Mukiwa: A White Boy in Africa by Peter Godwin. In the preface he says Mukiwa is intended as a memoir rather than an autobiography.
9. One book you have been meaning to read.
One I got recently which I’ve had my eye on for some time and still haven’t begun is The Magicians’ Guild by Trudi Canavan. It’s the first book of a fantasy trilogy.
I tag…. well I’ll opt out like Pacian and tag every visitor to this blog who hasn’t already done this particular meme. Aw, go on.
PS: Pacian pointed out he is reading more than one book at present. Actually, so am I, but I was too embarrassed to say. The other book I’m reading is beside my bed. It’s Paddington Marches On by Michael Bond.
Edit Feb 2008: Comments to this post when it was hosted by Blogigo.
1. Pete wrote at Sep 6, 2006 at 21:56:
Ah Paddington, those were the days 😀
2. Diddums wrote at Sep 7, 2006 at 09:24:
Only just realized Paddington had a wheelie bag too. My kind of bear.
I finished Orion last night, and this morning started a fresh Ben Bova paperback: Star Watchman. So far it’s very readable.
I’m trying to weed books out of the bookcases in the sitting room. I need space for the books that don’t have homes yet, and I’ll only let them go after I’ve read them. So emptying the bookcases is somewhat slow, as I spend much of my time on the computer, walking dogs, editing, watching TV, washing cat bedding, peeling potatoes, writing snaky things in my journal, drowsing on the sofa… anyway, there’s a small gap in one bookcase now that I’ve removed two of the Ben Bovas. Exciting!
I better not tell all my homeless books, otherwise they’ll tear each other in the mad stampede to fill the gap. Makes me think of the sheer number of humans beings and the lack of good jobs and housing… and the hoops people have to jump through to get either.
My cat Sharky has a new game. I began it by teasing him one day and now he initiates it. He goes up on the window sill behind the red curtain and starts dabbing me through the folds. I jab him back, in different places, and he tries to catch my fingers with paws and teeth. He must see my shadow as he’s so good at it. It’s odd when I feel a ring of teeth close on my fingers… but they don’t bite! My cat L. used to be much more ferocious – if you played one of these games with him and he caught you, you needed antiseptic cream and a plaster. I don’t think he did it to be cruel – he played rough.
His mother is just the same.