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On Being On Holiday (Belatedly)

20121117-224129.jpg I’ve been on holiday. Literally (for a short time over the summer) but also metaphorically (from blogging). I didn’t go away anywhere very exciting, or particularly relaxing (I have children so much of my life is essentially the same with different scenery), but I have given myself a break.

I’m supposed to be blogging every month, reflecting on my reading theme. As you’ll have noticed by now, it’s been a while and I’ve heard a few self-imposed deadlines whizzing past.

Nevermind; back on track for the final few months of 2013. To be honest this ‘holiday’ has been refreshing. I extended June’s Sci-Fi theme into half of July so I could finish The Passage.  I have paused my reading of  The Game of Thrones for so long I think I should now admit to having given up on it, for this year at least (a shame, I know; I may regret the decision). I then challenged myself to take only my Kindle on a short trip to London, intending to read Wolf Hall and that alone (see blog post ‘On Not Packing Books’ in July ). That I managed, but over a longer period of time than I’d expected, with other books in between.Jubilee 2012 184

A holiday from themed reading  has been invigorating. I could read whatever I fancied, just like ‘the old days’, not exercising my critical faculties at all. (I couldn’t read when ever I fancied, those ‘pesky children’ had to be entertained, educated, fed and watered, but I had the evenings and a few long car journeys.) Unfortunately, I didn’t read anything particularly ‘high brow’ – Wolf Hall notwithstanding. I’ve returned to a few comfort reads (Joanna Trollope’s latest The Soldier’s Wife and a couple more of Mary Balogh’s Bedwyn series) in addition to a few titles I’ve been putting off because they don’t fit into a theme: the Hunger Games trilogy, Tigers in Red Weather, Good Omens, Separate Lives.  It’s been fun to jump and skip about around time, setting, style and theme. The ‘holiday’ feeling has been difficult to shake off. I tried to be good and get into the ‘back to school’ mood by posting On Iris Murdoch (in anticipation). I fully intended to read at least one of her novels and one biography. imageI failed. Both Bruno’s Dream and The Sea, The Sea are woefully, pitifully read. I have started both, attaining about 10% progress. I also started A.N. Wilson’s respectful but unorthodox biography/memoir of Murdoch but am only up to page 52. Both the novels are refreshingly different to what I was expecting with eccentric, troubled male protagonists with tangled personal lives. I may continue to read their stories as they provide a refreshing change both from what I have read before of Murdoch’s novels and my recent fayre. But onwards, onto the next thematic challenge; merging October into November to avoid deadline anxiety with multiple family birthdays getting ‘in the way’ of my reading. Perhaps this holiday from a theme has exposed my intellectual pretence. I am a book tart, a bibliophilic magpie, a will-o-the-book-wisp. imageAm I the only one?

 

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On big books

imageAs part of my self-imposed, extended sci-fi & fantasy month of June, I read Justin Cronin’s The Passage; a 960-something sprawling tome full of viruses, vampires, nuns, survivors and a young girl called Amy.
It’s a great read – the first part of a projected trilogy – and I’d heartily recommend it, particularly if (like me) you don’t usually enjoy sci-fi. It’s well-written, compelling, moving and engaging. And there’s a bearable version of a vampire legend.
But you have to commit to a book as long as this.
It’s a huge book to lug about (I have a ‘real’ copy, resisting the temptation to buy it again for my Kindle) and the action takes place over a century or so time span. There is a large cast of characters. And vampires, twelve of them.
It took me about five weeks to get through this, having read about 300 pages when I first bought it a couple of years ago. Not bad going, but I was reading other books in between and alongside so hadn’t been entirely faithful to Amy and her defenders.
This is where I come unstuck.
I cannot always commit.
I am a book magpie. I like gathering books around me, attracted by glittery things, piles of paper to line our nest. And thus, restricting myself to reading one book at a time is difficult: I am not sure what mood I will be in, where I’ll be reading, how much time I have available, whether I’m looking after the children, or whatever else I am doing.
This is why I am unlikely to finish The Game of Thrones; I am completely lost only a third of the way through the first instalment, without an end in sight. It’s just the War of the Roses with lots of snow and a big wall, right?
But I committed to The Passage (mostly) and am pleased that I persevered. Having finished it last night, I now feel footloose and fancy free! I don’t have to move the book’s heft up and down stairs; I can look at other books, with the chance of spending some time with them instead.
So, what’s next? A few more days of sci-fi & fantasy? I’m sure I can squeeze in a Terry Pratchett Discworld novel…

 
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Posted by on 12/07/2013 in Uncategorized

 

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On giving away books

Every few months we enjoy a day out to Barter Books in Alnwick; a beautiful market town on the North East coast with amazing gardens, castle and one of the best second hand bookshops -ever. It’s a family favourite: husband sees books leaving the house ( they run a barter system), children watch trains running above the bookshelves (it’s in the old railway station), they ‘drive’ the book bus while browsing for their own books, we get to rummage through shelves and shelves of books of all descriptions; to top it all off, we can warm ourselves by the fire and rejuvenate in the restored cafe.
As I handed over my bag a few weeks’ ago, bulging with about 30 books to offer for barter, I found myself wondering (again) why I find it so hard to give books away. Why am I so attached to them? Why do I always hesitate before handing them over?

I don’t see myself as a particularly materialistic person. But I find it difficult to resist buying another book to add to my ‘must read’ shelves. Books represent an indulgence; I don’t buy lots of shoes, jewellery, clothes, go on expensive holidays, etc. so buying a book, whether from a charity shop, at a reduced price, or throwing the latest bestseller into the basket with the shopping, is only a minor, insignificant indulgence. Isn’t it?

Buying a book represents so much. Having a book indicates the intention to read it. I have promised myself the time to enjoy reading this book; it represents ‘me time’; a moment to be selfish, to sit down, enjoy an escape from daily demands and responsibilities, to listen to and experience another person’s stories, experiences or knowledge.

I know I can achieve all this by borrowing from my local library (which I do, very regularly), but owning my own copy makes the contents more personal. I can read it in my own time, without a renewal deadline. I can lend it, enjoy receiving it back, chat about it, return it to my shelves. I also become attached to certain editions, remembering where I was when I read it, occasionally leaving a memento of a particular time in the books’ leaves.

So often though, a book on my shelves represents a desire to read it. I often fill my shelves with books I either want to read or feel I should read. My bookcases are aspirational!

But, of course, there comes a moment when I realise I can pass on a book.

I can give it a new life, save it from languishing, un read on our shelves. I might have read it before but not fallen so in love with it that I cannot see it go; in fact, I might not have read it at all (yet). It is my responsibility as a bibliophile to pass books on, to share their physicality and their contents.

And so, farewell (some) beloved books. Live again…

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Posted by on 17/11/2012 in Uncategorized

 

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Hello World! Bookwormmum arrives!

  • Hello World indeed!As a blogging virgin, this is IT! I hope this book-ish blog will reflect what I’m reading, and what I think of it; what I hope to read; bookish thoughts and articles of interest; and – possibly – a bit of life thrown in.This blog is likely to be random, occasional and amateur; I’m finding my feet so please bear with me!

    I am a self-confessed book addict. I almost always ‘would rather be reading’ and feel jittery when I’m without a book, either in my handbag or a pile of them waiting to be read by my side.

    Having said that, I have two young children and a husband (!) to keep me busy and find the piles of books waiting to be read grow ever larger and threaten to topple over.

    I own more books than I’ll ever read; my bookcases reflect more of what I’d like to read than have actually read.

    Books furnish a room; you can never have too many of them (well…)

    I’m a mum of two, husband of one and only child. I’m in my early thirties (if 33 still counts as ‘early’) and live in my adopted home of the North East of England. I am a reluctant housewife but enthusiastic mother. I have a background (and degrees in) theology and have worked in bookshops, libraries, university administration and community development.

    I love tea, reading and music – a combination of the three is the best!

    So, as I look forward to my evening cup of tea and a good read, let the blogging begin!

 
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Posted by on 26/03/2012 in Uncategorized

 

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