We read...

To know we are not alone. ~C.S. Lewis~

Thursday, January 29, 2009


I'm within 100 pages of the end of my book - you know what that's like! And I just can't get any reading time. January come back...

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Nise' asks at Under the boardwalk for a couple of teaser lines from the book I'm reading. I thought this was a fantastic idea and look forward to the comments on her page so I can sneak into the reading lives of people I don't even know...and maybe add a few more books to my reading list. And, to think that I was worried my reading would be aimless and uninspired after finishing my English degree last year...

My teaser from Time and Chance by Sharon Penman. p 247

" 'The hostages are not scapegoats, but are pledges of Welsh loyalty. It is as that they must be punished, and for no other reason -'

Ranulf's mouth was suddenly so dry he could not even spit. 'You cannot kill them, Harry!'

Monday, January 26, 2009

Monday Musings - Never a borrower or lender be...

My friend Becca is not only generous with her loans but also with her gifts. I quite often come home from book-club with a pile of extra books she's picked up second-hand with the comment 'I knew you wanted to read this...it was only 20 cents...I just had the get it for you!'

But here's my guilty secret...I'm not a fan of loaning out my books. In the same way I'd rather buy than borrow books in order to possess them, I'd rather not loan them. They're like children and I worry when they're having a sleep-over.

Having said that there are some people I would never hesitate a loan. After many an excited conversation that usually goes like this 'ooo this book is soooo good, you have to read it...I can't wait to talk to you about it...here take it and let me know what you think...(all my work friends know how this conversation goes). In the same way any of my fellow students were often on the receiving end of my largesse, because some of our uni texts were just too expensive to be sitting on my shelves when they could be out there doing good.

I don't have a system for keeping track of who has which book, perhaps this would enable me to be more generous but for now I'll just stick with loaning to the friends who've never let me down and are always good for hours of happy book-talk after they've returned my baby.

Speaking of which Becca did you loan my Bec Twilight? I've seen her reading it (& Rick too) maybe we borrowed it last Bookfreaks? We did come home with a lot of extra books and that startled look you mentioned!

Sunday, January 25, 2009

it's not about the book

When Becca asked ‘buy or borrow?’ my unequivocal answer was buy. But I’ve learned something about myself since losing my book; it’s not about the book it’s all about the reading.

I was upset, flustered even, I needed the book back. I made a few ‘have you found my book’ phone calls, to no avail. I have a suspicion that I left the book at a place to which I cannot return . So I checked the public library catalogue and there it was. The librarian was kind enough to check the shelves and put it aside for me. I rearranged my day to accommodate the 40 min round trip and picked up the book.

I spent some time making myself a new beaded bookmark (two actually) which gave me pleasure in both the creating and possessing. And now I’m quite content to abandon my book to its fate just so long as I can re-connect with my characters/friends and bring them to the safe harbour of the end.

Thursday, January 22, 2009


I've lost my book...I hate that.

This happens semi regularly my family is well familiar with the vexed cry, 'where's my book?', sometimes substituted with, 'where's my glasses?' Book & glasses go everywhere I go just in case I get a minute to read but that means they are often abandoned as I am distracted by quotidian domestic duties.

Mum's rule of finding lost things was "go back to the last time you can remember having it and re-trace your steps" but the last time I had it was down the street...somewhere, in some shop there is a shop assistant looking at my book, admiring my beaded bookmark and wondering where the lost property bin is.

I don't know which is worse my book in the hands of strangers or all my characters in suspended animation till I can find them.

Monday, January 19, 2009

sick-bed reading

It's funny (strange) that I resort to the screen when I'm sick rather than a book. Once I thought this was because the only time I'm laid-up with sickness is a bad dose of the flu and, if I'm honest, not even then...there's no ringing in sick from mothering.

But you're familiar with the yucky flu symptoms I'm sure; sandpaper eyes that have cotton wool behind them, leaky orifices, head of lead, wobbly legs...all of these make reading less attractive than a good dose of Audrey Hepburn or Robert Redford.

this may stem back to not being able to read when I was little and captive to my dyslexia. The only time I got to stay home was if I was contagious (Mum & Dad worked so I went to school unless there was bone showing or the doctor said I was not fit for it) so measles, mumps, chickenpox etc would see me in front of the tellie watching Shirley Temple or Red Skelton (my childhood was a long time ago!).

My recent sprained ankle slowed me down a bit and, like my friend Becca recently laid low with the flu, I read Middlesex, but instead of interspersing with naps I read sporadically while I watched re-runs and movies.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Definitely a Penman fan

The one good thing about the disastrously hot, stinky summer weather is that no-one expects me to go out in it – if you’d ever seen me in 40°+ you’d know why.

So I spent the disgustingly hot days of my holidays in the two air-conditioned rooms of our holiday house finding sanctuary in books. For Christmas I was given Sharon Penman’s Devil’s Brood . It is the conclusion to her medieval trilogy about Henry and Eleanor; royal love, death & politics. BUT of course I could not just sit down and read it, oh no not me! I had to go back to the start and re-read When Christ and His Saints Slept. Please understand, this was not a hardship I love this book because it is filled with loveable, believable characters and brings to life historical events, such as the sinking of the White Ship, which, with the benefit of hindsight, can be seen to shape so much of England’s, France’s and the world’s future.

It’s a great way to get your history. Some writers of historical fiction take much more license with history in an effort to make a great narrative. Penman seems to go the opposite way making her story fit the history, weaving her fiction amongst historical events. I’m no medieval history buff by any stretch of the imagination but whenever I’ve researched something that peaked my interest (like Maude escaping from a snow-enveloped siege right through enemy lines under the cover of a white cloak) there it was right where Penman said it would be, and that’s good enough for me.

My heat enforced confinfinement to my air-con rooms was the perfect opportunity to re-read this book – one of my favourites. After reading When Christ and his Saints slept however, it was still not straight on to Devil’s Brood, because Time and Chance comes next! I am enjoying it almost as much. It’s a smaller book by half but it’s taking me longer to read it – perhaps because the holiday is over and I’m busier. I’m enjoying following Ranulf’s story as he moves into Wales because he’s one character not based on a real-life person so Penman can do whatever she likes with him and it’s really interesting to see how she’ll develop his story-line.

I love the chapter divisions that move the plot along on its arc. Each chapter is headed by the time and place setting so one Chapter might be Winchester November 1165 and the next could be Normandy March 1166. I guess Penman is following the major events she wants to highlight but she always finds a way to fill in the intervening months/years. I also love how sometimes the vehicle for that revelation is a completely new character who’s just there for exposition purposes but nevertheless receives Penman’s full descriptive attention so that the reader doesn’t mind getting to know someone new and enjoys the different point of view.

I can’t wait to get to Devil’s Brood and maybe I might even re-read Penman’s Welsh Trilogy that starts with Here be Dragons which, if you can believe it, I love even more than Henry and Eleanor’s story.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Why do I read?

Echoing C.S. Lewis, my mother always said you're never alone when you've got a book and to an only child 'alone' is something you have in abundance. As an undiagnosed dyslexic reading was never antidote to that alone-ness, I couldn't understand how anyone could love reading the way my parents did.

It was all just scibbly black lines of incoherent, isolated words arranged in-between fascinating rivers created by the patterns of the spaces on each page. The words I struggled to read never formed into sentences much less a narrative. If I did manage to get to the end of a sentence it often didn't make any sense anyway "this is Susan's dad" was to me "this is Susan's dab/bad" -*she frowns* huh? I can remember being excruciatingly embrarrassed about not being able to do what the other kids seemed to be able to do so naturally & I was aware that I was different, odd if you will, but I didn't know what questions to ask to find out how I was different. I was particularly sensitive about not being able to tell the difference between 'd' & 'b' hoping no-one would notice how dumb I was - I love the irony now!

How lucky I was to have a mum who read to me so devotedly for so long. She was a wise woman and I adored her, perhaps that's why I believed her in spite of my own reading experience. I loved books simply because she told me they were worthy of loving.

So this is my blog about my love of reading, words and language. It's just for me as an affirmation of a long hard struggle to find out for myself that books are worthy of my affection.