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On Iris Murdoch (in Anticipation)

A collection of Iris Murdoch

A collection of Iris Murdoch

A new month, the start of a new school year, another gratuitous picture of my library.

After the Summer off (more of that later) I am returning to my self-imposed reading theme, hoping to get the literary grey cells going with a good dose of Iris Murdoch.

As you can see, I have a(n almost) complete collection of her novels (copies of Flight From The Enchanter, The Bell and Iris are mysteriously missing; particularly odd as I know I’ve read them. That will bother me all night…).

But I don’t think I really ‘get’ Murdoch. She’s a novelist who writes about ideas, about people who talk about philosophy, stringing events together to make a point, rather than a great novelist with a well-honed style.

Or at least that’s my recollection of Murdoch’s work.

I am prepared to be challenged.

But where should I start?

 

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2012: My Year In Books

No comment or reflection, just a list of the 70 books I’ve found time to read this year. Marks are given out of 5. RG = Reading Group book; K = read on Kindle. As you’ll see, I wasn’t very strict with my themed reading; will try harder next year.

January

  1. Requiem for a Mezzo    – Carola Dunn (4)
  2. Secrets – Jaqueline Wilson (5)
  3. The Boy In the Dress – David Walliams (5)
  4. Confessions of a Jane Austen Addict  – Laurie Rigler (3)
  5. Don’t You Want Me? – India Knight (3)
  6. More Than Love Letters  – Rosie Thornton (3)
  7. Snowdrops – A D MIller  (3) (K, RG)
  8. Mistress of Mellyn – Victoria Holt (4)
  9. There But For The – Ali Smith (5)
  10. Emily Goes to Exeter – M C Beaton (4) (K)
  11. This Charming Man – Marian Keyes (3)

February

  1. The Winter King – Bernard Cornwall (3)
  2. Why Be Happy When You Can Be Normal? – Jeanette Winterson (5)
  3. The Wives of Henry Oades – Johanna Moran (4) (RG)
  4. Before I Go To  Sleep – S J Watson (5) (K)
  5. The Pillars of the Earth – Ken Follett (4)
  6. The Library Book – Various (5)

March

  1. Dark Matter: A Ghost Story – Michelle Paver (3) (RG)
  2. Stop What You’re Doing And Read This! – Various (5)

April

  1. The Rules of Civility – Amor Towles (3)
  2. The Paris Wife – Paula McLaine (4) (RG)
  3. Minerva – M C Beaton (4)
  4. Fifty Shades of Grey – E L James (2)
  5. And Now The Shipping Forecast – Peter Jefferson (3)
  6. Half of the Human Race – Anthony Quinn (4)
  7. The Taming of Annabelle – M C Beaton (4)

May

  1. The White Queen – Philippa Gregory (4)
  2. The Daughter of Time – Josephine Tey (4)
  3. Sweet Danger  – Margery Allingham (3)

June

  1. The Mystery of a Butcher’s Shop – Gladys Mitchell (4)
  2. The Chinese Shawl – Patricia Wentworth (4)
  3. Why Didn’t They Ask Evans? – Agatha Christie (4)
  4. The Case of the Guilded Fly – Edmund Crispin (4)
  5. She – H. Rider Haggard (4) (K)
  6. The Sense of an Ending – Julian Barnes (2) (RG)
  7. A Gathering Storm – Rachel Hoare (3)
  8. The Dark Tower: The Gunslinger – Stephen King (3)
  9. The Dark Tower: The Drawing of the Three – Stephen King (3)

July

  1. The Song of Achillies – Madeline Miller (5) (K)
  2. Into the Darkest Corner  – Elizabeth Haynes (5)
  3. Cameron on Cameron – Dylan Jones (3)
  4. The Revelations – Alex Preston (2) (K)
  5. Death At Pemberley – P D James (5) (K)

August

  1. A Perfectly Good Man – Patrick Gale (5)
  2. One of Our Thursdays Is Missing – Jasper Fforde (5)
  3. Daughters in Law – Joanna Trollope (4)
  4. Sleepyhead – Mark Billingham (4)
  5. Jubilee – Shelly Harris (3) (RG)
  6. The No 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency  – Alexander McCall Smith (4)
  7. Pure – Andrew Miller  (4) (RG)
  8. Winter In Madrid – C J Sansom (5) (K)

September

  1. The Weirdstone of Brisingamon – Alan Garder (5)
  2. The Night Circus – Erin Mortgenstern (4) (RG)
  3. Burnt Shadows – Kamila Shamsie (5)
  4. Poetry: Fierie – Jackie Kay (5) / Family Album – Sheree Mack (5)/ Out of the Blue – Simon Armitage (5)

October

  1. The War of the Worlds – H G Wells (5) (K)
  2. Then – Julie Myerson (5)
  3. Zoo Time – Howard Jacobson (4)
  4. The Moon of Gomrath – Alan Garner (4)
  5. The Greatcoat – Helen Dunmore (5)

November

  1. The Last Weekend – Blake Morrison (5)
  2. Shirley – Charlotte Bronte (4)
  3. Lady Audley’s Secret – Mary Elizabeth Braddon (5) (K)
  4. Emma Brown – Clare Boylan (3)
  5. The Betrayal of Trust – Susan Hill (5)

December

  1. One Night Of Love – Mary Balough (4)
  2. A Weekend With Mr Darcy – Victoria Connolley (4) (K)
  3. The Thoughts and Happenings of Wilfred Price, Purveyor of Superior Funerals – Wendy Jones (4)  (RG)
  4. The Woman Who Went to Bed for a Year – Sue Townsend (4)
  5. Crocodile on the Sandbanks – Elizabeth Peters (4) (K)

So, that was my year. Not a particuarly large number, but respectable for a mum of 2. More comment to follow, along with plans for more themed reading in 2013…

 
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Posted by on 31/12/2012 in End of month review

 

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Why I read (and why I can’t)

Mummy?

Yes?

Why do you have soooooo many books? You are too fond of them!

Well, I  love reading and I love having a selection of books around me.

But, Mummy, why don’t you just read them rather than sleeping?

…..!

This short exchange with my son (almost 7) early yesterday morning made me think about why I read and what stops me from reading as much as I’d like. 

As a full time mum, you might think that I’d have plenty of time to catch up with the literary treasues gathering on my bookcases. But no. Perhaps it’s because I have two children, a house and a husband to manage that reading comes lower than I’d like in my daily priorities. For about 12 hours a day, I’m a combination of entertainer, teacher, cook, housemaid, organiser, taxi driver and cook. When evening comes, there are still jobs to do, in addition to the temptations of the computer and television before I can settle down to reading.  

So, why do I define myself by what I read; why is it – as my son said-‘my hobby’?

Although I can’t remember when I started to read, I’ve always been lucky enough to have plenty of books of my own. I am an only child and most of my entertainment came from reading as much and as many stories as I could. Apparently one of my favourite toys in my buggy was a tattered copy of Beatrix Potter’s The Tale of Pigling Bland. My birthday is less than a month before Christmas; I looked forward to the ‘glut’ of books or book tokens I received every December (and the resulting thank you letters to dutifully write). I loved visiting my local library and always borrowed the maximum number of library books allowed; it was like an Aladdin’s cave, as many books as I wanted, for free. I spent many break times and lunch hours in secondary school reading in the library. I would read anything and everything. I became obsessed with the Brontes but was too young to understand DH Lawrence. I found it a thrill when an obscure book was last checked out before I was born.

I love the way books are able to transport the reader; you’re only limited by your imagination, what you can visualise through the author’s words. I love entering into someone else’s life, hearing their thoughts, seeing the world through their eyes. It’s a private, intense experience too; unlike a film, you can control the pace of a scene, and rewind whenever you want.

Books are a uniquely intense, personal and private way of experiencing the world and interpreting other’s experiences. I have learnt so much about the world through what others have written. 

Many an evening, I seruptitiously turned my light back on, only to quickly click it off again when I heard my mum coming upstairs). Well I remember straining to read just one more chapter in the fading evening light or from the landing illumination. Then, the power of a story was stronger than the desire to sleep.

Unfortunately nowadays, I too often succumb too often to the lure of tv narrative or the pull of sleep. I still pile up books from my fantastic local library and am a regular patron of charity shops for secondhand bargains. 

But, they are still my guilty pleasure, obsession, method of relaxation, hobby.

I hope that one day my son – and daughter – will understand the joy of reading so much. And why I would sometimes rather be reading than playing Lego or a dolls’ tea party. But only occasionally.

 
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Posted by on 07/04/2012 in Uncategorized

 

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Aside

My reading space.
Tea, an assortment of books, hi-fi remote control, a notebook: bliss.

Where I Read (usually)

 
 

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