Books, reading, & libraries – a Sunday morning muse

Its the beginning of a new year again, complete with obligatory resolutions that we hope we will keep better than we normally do, and a time for reflection on things we did last year.  This week I’ve been thinking about books and reading (as  I normally do!), and there have been a couple of blog posts that stood out for me.  One was by Woodsiegirl and looked at how many books she’d read last year, with some lovely graphs, and different statistics about gender/genre/origin of books, etc.  I have sometimes attempted to write down everything I read, but I tend to forget about half way through the year.  Thinking about it this year again (better start soon!), and instead of writing it down on paper as I have in the past, I may well enter the details into a spreadsheet so that I too can make pretty graphs next year!

I’ve currently got three books on the go; I tend to read at lunchtime, and am going through a phase of having ‘lunchtime classics’.  At the moment it is the Count of Monte Cristo by Alexander Dumas.  This stemmed from a ‘project’ I set myself’ in 2010 when I assigned myself a list of 40 classics books I had never read.  I compiled the list partly by looking at ‘top 100’ lists etc that were published by the BBC and people like that.  I’d always done fairly well on those lists, better than average, but still there were plenty of gaps.  So I read things like Of mice and men, Vanity fair, Huckleberry Finn, Watership down, Jude the obscure, etc etc.  By the end of 2010 I read about 28 of these 40 (I did read other things that year too), since then I’ve been less strict with myself and have opened up my reading a bit more again. However I am still on a mission to finish the list one day, hence I have developed my ‘lunchtime classics’.  This partly stemmed from the fact that last year I started reading War and peace, and frankly it was too big to cart around in my bag to work and back, so I just left it in my desk to read at lunchtimes.  Following on from that was Gone with the wind, that too was pretty hefty, and as mentioned about I’m currently on The count of Monte Cristo.  One problem I am finding at the moment is that I am quite busy, even at lunchtime, and want to blog, chase things up on Twitter, etc, so my lunchtime reading is going a bit slowly.

Anyway, I also read on the train coming home from work, and have another book at home to read too.  The book on the train has to be not too large to fit in my work bag.  During last year I had a brief sort of my books and picked out some that had been sitting on the shelves for years, and weren’t really grabbing my attention; I’ve decided to discard them (give to friends/charity shop), but thought I would give some of them a go first.  My current train book is The siege of Krishnapur by J. G. Farrell, its a booker prize winner, but I can see why its been languishing on my shelves for years, because it is really not grabbing me.  I’m over a third of the way through, and am actually debating giving it up.  I very rarely give up on a book, its a sense of pride to complete books, even the ones I don’t particularly like.  I will probably persevere, but is this a waste of my time?  Should one stop reading a book if one isn’t enjoying it?  Life’s too short? etc etc.  Or should one complete a job one has started, as you never know when you might be surprised, and its shoddy not to???

My third book, my ‘home’ book, which is normally a ‘cosy’ book, or something I can’t put down, happens to be a non-fiction book at the moment,which is most unusual for me.  Its, Just my type by Simon Garfield and is a book all about fonts!  It was brought to my attention by a colleague who’d heard it on ‘book of the week’ on the radio.  She mentioned it because one episode talked about the Doves Press and their ‘drowned font’ which I subesquently blogged about on the SCOLAR blog I write for too.  This was interesting to us, because we had been cataloguing books by the Doves Press recently.  The book as a whole looked interesting, and I got it for Christmas, and am only feeling slightly nerdy about enjoying a book about fonts!  Prior to this I read A feast for crows by George R. R. Martin, book 4 of A Song of Fire and Ice.  I am waiting for book 5 to come out in paperback (most impatiently!).  The first book was televised by HBO earlier last year, as Game of thrones – I was hooked by the tv series, and even more enchanted by the books.

This week I’ve also started taking part in the Orange January Giveaway on the Magic Lasso blog.  Yesterday’s ‘challenge’ was to talk about your first library card, and what books you took out.  There were some great replies, and it is fascinating reading about people’s memories of attending libraries as small children.  Many seemed to mention memories of impressive buildings, and it set me wondering what today’s children will remember of their early library visits.  My first library was probably of Victorian architecture, there was a separate children’s library to the adult library, and I remember it being really big (probably not quite as bit as I recall).  Although the buildings were adjacent (linked even, maybe part of one big building), it was great to have a proper children’s library, a separate space to the adult one (although the adult library had ‘baby/toddler’ books availble), and there seemed to be a huge choice of books to read.  I remember my Dad encouraging me to read the Swallows & Amazons series (and I loved their covers with the hand drawn pictures and maps etc), he also got me to read Biggles!  The library is no longer housed in this lovely building, it got moved to a shopping centre a few years back now, although the building is used as an arts centre/musem/gallery I do believe.

Although I loved the old building the library was housed in, it would probably seem very old-fashioned now, but I do hope today’s children still get to form great memories of their libraries – that’s if the councils don’t shut them all down 😦



Filed under Reading, Uncategorized

2 responses to “Books, reading, & libraries – a Sunday morning muse

  1. Thanks for linking to my blog! Glad you liked 🙂
    Just to add my tuppence worth: I think that if you’re not enjoying a book, you should give up on it. It’s hard to do I know, and it’s something I struggle with too! Whenever I start thinking that I should just plough on with a book I’m not getting into, I remind myself of just how many fantastic books there are in the world, and how I will only have time to read a fraction of them anyway – so why waste time on something I’m not enjoying?

  2. Lists of reading… ok, here comes my confession. Since being a teenager at high school I had to keep a ‘reading record’ in the back of my English exercise book. I left school, and kept the list going in a notebook. Once, I typed it up into Excel and compared how many male or female writers I read (answer, not many men at all!), but I haven’t added to that spreadsheet in years, although I do keep the notebook going and diligently write down every book I read (title, author, date finished, and a tick, cross or dot to indicate if I liked, disliked or unsure about). Why? I’ve no idea, but it does prove handy when I get a book from the town library, am about 20 pages in, and think “Oooh, this seems very familiar” and on flicking through the notebook, there we have it, read X months or years ago.
    Like you, I used to plough on with books I didn’t like, but now I will abandon them, and I agree with Woodsiegirl’s comments above.
    Happy reading!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s