Sunshine and Roses
The reverse of last week’s question:
Imagine that everything is going just swimmingly. The sun is shining, the birds are singing, and all’s right with the world. You’re practically bouncing from health and have money in your pocket. The kids are playing and laughing, the puppy is chewing in the cutest possible manner on an officially-sanctioned chew toy, and in between moments of laughter for pure joy, you pick up a book to read . . .
What is it?
This is quite difficult to answer, but I think that I’d read a book I’ve not read before, probably by an author I like, such as Margaret Atwood. A couple of books that I would like to read again are Karen Armstrong’s memoir The Spiral Staircase and M Scott Peck’s In Search of Stones. Both are books that I read with anticipation and they lived up to my expectations. Both are personal accounts of the authors’ beliefs and spiritual journeys.
The funny thing is that although I’ve got piles of unread books sometimes I can’t find the right one to read next and end up starting a few and feeling that they’re just not quite right. Then I pick up a book in a bookshop or the library and it’s the right one for that moment. The book I’m currently reading, Astrid and Veronika by Linda Olsson is a beautiful, but sad book (so far) and it’s just right at the moment, but if I was feeling sad myself it would probably make me feel worse.
Some books are hard to read because they’re so moving and I thought of Hannah’s Gift
by Maria Housden when I first read this question, because it’s a book that I just couldn’t read if I was depressed. It’s the story of a mother’s three year old daughter’s illness and death and it is heartbreaking. It made me cry and I just had to stop reading it; I picked it up later because I felt I had to know the end.
D finished reading David Beckham’s autobiography My Side yesterday and wondered if I’d like to read it too. He’s also read Paul McGrath’s Back from the Brink and next on his list is Peter Schmeichel’s The Autobiography.
He thinks I’d prefer McGrath’s book. From the covers I think I’d rather read Scheimeichel’s – he looks much happier.
My knowledge of football is a bit limited but having lived with Manchester United supporters all my life through my dad, husband and son I must have absorbed something. And, of course, there were the glorious footballing years when my son played football from age 11 to his going to university and D and I were there on the touchline every weekend during the season, cheering him on. My feet were frozen, the middle of my back was aching from the cold striking up from the ground – they played whatever the weather, but I wouldn’t have missed any of it. I only remember one match that was called off because the ground was too frozen. I did enjoy it, even when parents occasionally had to be warned by the referee that they would be sent off if they didn’t stop arguing – great fun. The best thing about it of course was seeing my son play. somehow I can’t quite summon up as much enthusiasm for football on TV.
I ‘m going to give these books a go at least, if only to see what they’re like.
At the weekend Danielle posted a Library Meme. What do you have checked out from the library? So here’s my list. The photo above is of the latest books I borrowed a few days ago.
- Darkmans by Nicola Barker, shortlisted for the Booker Prize. I’ve started this one, but so far I’ve not found it too riveting, but then I’m only up to page 24. It’s so long and so, so heavy (in weight, that is), not for reading in bed. I’m not going to finish this before the Booker Prize is announced.
- The Bookseller of Kabul by Asne Seierstad. A friend recommended this a while ago.
- The Daphne Du Maurier Companion edited by Helen Taylor. This has interviews with her family, essays by contemporary authors and a long-lost short story by Du Maurier. I’ve read the short story “And His Letters Grew Colder” – it’s sad.
- Astrid and Veronika by Linda Olsson. I found this in the “1st Novel Collection” and sat down in the library to start reading. There are some comfy chairs, which are spread around the library, which are ideal for browsing whilst you decide what to borrow. This looks very good. It set in Sweden, where Veronika, a young writer arrives seeking stillness and solitude. She is observed by her elderly, reclusive neighbour, Astrid. Eventually they become friends and confide their secrets.
I’ve also got these books on loan:
- Lewis Carroll by Cohen Morton. I’m currently reading about a chapter a day of this. I’ve just got up to Chapter 5 ‘The Alice Books’, which is about the writing and publication of the books in the 1860s.
- Crow Lake by Mary Lawson -I’ve finished this one and enjoyed it very much. I’ll write about it soon.
- Four Letters of Love by Niall Williams, because I enjoyed As it is in Heaven.
- Generals Die in Bed: a novel from the trenches by Charles Yale Harrison. I borrowed this because I’m interested in reading a novel about the Western Front. It’s short book, so it shouldn’t take too long to read.
- The Edible Woman by Margaret Atwood, one of my favourite authors.
- The Dante Club by Matthew Pearl. I ploughed my way through his Poe Shadow, which was interesting although parts were a bit tedious. This another quite long book – but not as long as Darkmans.
- Digital Photography for Seniors in Easy Steps by Nick Vandome – I need some help. My photos are a bit hit and miss.
- Ancestors of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley. I read her Mists of Avalon a few years ago. This is about the fall of Atlantis and the origins of Stonehenge.
- Ghostwalk by Rachel Stott. I’ve finished this – another good book, which I’m going to post about.
- Cold Comfort Farm by Stella Gibbons. Ann recommended this. I’ve read it many years ago and enjoyed it then, so when I saw it in the library I picked it up.
- Emerson’s Essays. This is an Everyman’s Library edition first published in 1906. I found it in the Reserve Stock (where they keep books that supposedly aren’t borrowed very much. This book was last checked out in July 2005). Stefanie’s posts on Emerson led me to this book.
Fortunately, unless someone else has reserved it you can renew a book 6 times on-line before you have to take it back in and if it has been reserved and you haven’t finished it you can reserve it at no charge! Wonderful. I’d never get through this lot in 3 weeks.
Nan gave me the Nice Matters Award back in August. I’™m sorry it’™s taken so long to write about it, Nan, but I’™ve been thinking about posting about it since then. Nice Matters can be thought of in different ways ‘“ ‘œnice’ things, or the significance and importance of being ‘œnice’.
The dictionary definition of ‘œnice’ includes ‘œagreeable, delightful, respectable, good in any way, something done with great care and exactness, accurate, and good-natured.’ So I’™ll disregard and indeed ignore one of my English teachers at school who told us not to use the word ‘œnice’ as she thought it was a neutral word and didn’™t signify much at all. The concept of ‘œNiceness’ is good and it does indeed matter.
I am honoured, Nan ‘“ thank you. I don’™t know Nan personally but judging from her blog I think that she is a thoroughly nice person.
When I decided to join the R.I.P. II Challenge
I thought I’d only read one book for Peril the First
. The book I chose is Edgar Allen Poe’s Tales of Mystery and Imagination
. So far I’ve read a few of the stories. I’ve always found short stories to be a bit of a let-down and I’ve found some of these a bit too
short to create an eerie, scary atmosphere. Admittedly they are written in a very formal and somewhat objective style, but I’m not getting that feeling of nervous tension I experienced when reading Season of the Witch
, which I wrote about here
I picked up Ghostwalk
by Rebecca Stott in the library, just on the strength of the cover and the title alone, usually an unwise basis for choosing a book. But I’m about halfway through and it’s really good, a combination of mystery and historical investigation, with alchemy, Isaac Newton and a love story thrown in for good measure. It moves between the present and the 17th century.
So, I ‘ve now decided to go on to Peril the First
, which is to Read Four books of any length, from any subgenre of scary stories that you choose.
In addition to Ghostwalk
, I’ve just bought The Book of Air and Shadows
, by Michael Gruber, which is described on the book cover as “a modern thriller that moves deftly between the 21st and 17th centuries”, (I like the 17th century).
The little ginger cat in the photo is a bookmark that I’m fond of as it reminds me of our cat Lucy – her photo is somewhere over on the left.