Thursday, 14 June 2012

Reading Matters

Well we've had the Jubilee, Euro 2012 (the exchange rate) is underway, the Olympics are looming, we've lost a dear little Tibetan shyster and replaced him with another - it really is turning out to be a memorable year. Oh, and I've just read a book.

To most of you I guess reading a book isn't such a big deal. You probably think it's like saying "I brushed my teeth". To me it's a landmark occasion celebrating the fact that I haven't completely lost the ability to sit quietly and concentrate for several hours with something that doesn't have a screen.

When I was young the concept of reading books was as natural as breathing. The rows of Anthony Buckeridge, Richmal Crompton and Enid Blyton in our little branch library are still as sharp in my memory as the smell and squeak of the waxed parquet floor and the dowdy velvet feel of the handwritten library tickets. Coming away with a new Biggles under each arm was as exciting as it could get.

As I got older my love of books continued and I forsook the municipal library for the joy of actually owning books. The glorious feel of a brand new penguin was a selfish pleasure and the iconic cover artwork became as ingrained in my head as the vinyl album sleeves that I coveted equally.

Somewhere the obsessive collector in me came to the fore. I amassed complete sets of paperback Graham Greenes and Alistair Macleans, interspersed with volumes which were bought for exhibition rather than consumption. I never did get past page one of "Thus Spake Zarathustra" so will never know what he actually said.

Once adulthood and a salary arrived I was a sitting duck for the marketing department of Book Club Associates and spent what seemed like decades receiving large parcels of books every month having neglected to return the right card with an X in the box. It was a period when I spent more time building shelves for books than reading them. Presentation had finally triumphed over content and I was all ready to vote for Tony Blair in his first landslide.

The last few years have seen me all but give up books completely. The butterfly minded flitting between sources of what is now termed "content" takes away ones ability to sit down and just concentrate on a single book. Even my beloved shelves of BCA reference books have gradually found their way to charity shops now I can access all the information from the little oblong thing in my pocket.

In my next post I'll tell you what the book is that I've just read. Don't worry, it's not the Nietsche.

18 comments:

Tim Footman said...

As long as you don't give us any more details about your little pocket oblong.

Zig said...

Oblong - now there's a word you don't hear anymore. I wonder why? I bet most kids wouldn't know an oblong from a rectangle!

Rog said...

Tim: I'm always pleased to see you in my comments

Zig: I bet kids think its an Irish name for someone who likes shiny jewellry.

Nota Bene said...

There's a real joy to be had reading a real book...when you can find the time. If it turns out to be a Jeffrey Archer I may have to question the definition of book...

savannah said...

there are 4 resting on my nightstand in varying degrees of read-ness, sugar. i have absolutely no discipline anymore. xoxox

Liz said...

I may have heartily embraced t'internet and other technology, but I never gave up reading books. I have been reading at bedtime for years and there are very few nights when I don't pick up a book at all, even if I only read a couple of paragraphs.

Sir Bruin and I have lots of books and the fact that we now have his and hers Kindles does not mean that we will stop reading 'real' books. One of the many things I love about my husband is that he is, like me, a reader. That is such joy after years of dating philistines!

Do not fear for the next generation either, my little nephew and niece already love books. I was delighted on a visit to my nephew (who was then only 2) when one of the many instructions he issued to me that particular weekend was "Read a book Auntie Liz". Auntie Liz was very happy to comply.

Roses said...

No such thing as too many books in my reality.

Though my reading list would probably disgust 'proper' readers, I like trashy books: chick lit and sci fi/fantasy.

I do have books on my shelf I will get around to reading, I also have a kindle, in case I start running out of book shelves.

Tim said...

I have, finally, succumbed to the Kindle, as a friend published an ebook which I had to buy. It's good, actually (the Kindle as well as the book), but the trouble is you can't lend them, give them away or recycle them - which are some of the best things about real books.

mig bardsley said...

I have three piles upstairs, read, waiting to be read and um maybe I ought to try harder because it's supposed to be really good. They're all high enough to hide behind.

gabriellebryden said...

Your experience mirrors mine - I have heaps of books but heaps are not being read as I spend so much time reading online and am losing patience, it would seem, for books - eek! I love Biggles - and collect them - well I got a whole heap off my grandmother years ago and have been adding to them if I stumble on good ones in second hand shops.

Martin said...

I can relate to this post. And, when I do pick up a book, I take forever to get through it.

Rog said...

Nota: I've listened to his serial on Radio 4 but it was all about farming.

Savannah: No discipline = free thinking!

Liz: Keep up the good work! I've dated Philistines - they were an Indo-European people who appeared in the southern coastal area of Canaan at the beginning of the Iron Age (circa 1175 BC)

Roses: Another bookie! I wonder if the Sage reads chick-lit?

Tim: I might have known you'd be immersed in reading. Or was that slough?

Mig: They sound like weighty reading!

Gabby: Aha! Biggles Flew South then! I'm still searching for the elusive "Biggles Flies Undone"

Martin: My father used to read a dozen books a week. Mind you, Angry Birds wasn't invented then.

Z said...

It was the poor quality of many highly-rated modern novels that finally deadened my life-long pleasure in reading books. Over the last year or so I've returned to classics (thanks to free downloads on the iPad), older novels (thanks to my parents' 1950s and 60s book-buying obsession) and non-fiction. I'm not a compulsive reader as I used to be, but there are a lot of as-yet-unplayed Angry Birds updates on the phone.

Pat said...

I rejoice that I have got back the habit of losing myself in a book. Then I was given a kindle which is rather clouding the issue.

Z said...

Good point, Pat - I read more now that I have books on phone and pad, but I'm less absorbed than when reading a real book.

Sir Bruin said...

I used to love reading the works of Capt W E Johns. It's only now that I realise that Biggles flew in both World Wars without getting any older.

Mike and Ann said...

Hello Rog. My VERY favorite book when young Was Treasure. Island. Otherwise my list. Would have been much the same as yours. I too have recently been given a kindle. I've already got fifty books on it, but as T least four of the are 'The complete works of.........' Iit's better than it sounds.Please excuse poor typing. I'm using a borrowed IPad, and my. Fingers. Are. Too big for it.

Rog said...

Z: Reading is a proper relaxing activity I think. Most of us could do with more of it.

Pat: I used to say that digital photography would never surpass the feel and quality of film ;-)

Sir B: Didn't you just say something similar about Z? Not involving wars of course!

Mike: I love those dramatic full stops. You probably aren't quite ready for an iPhone yet then ;-)