How do you open a blog? It’s difficult to know how to start and what to write about first. I want this to be the place where I record my general ramblings about the books I read and love. They are such a huge part of my life. Therefore where better to start than with the books I am reading at the moment.
So, what does my bedside table say about me? You wouldn’t know it by looking at the picture, but I have recently culled some books from my bedside table. So in its current state, what can you tell?
Well, the tissues and paracetamol suggest that I have been unwell recently – this is true. Two days on the sofa last week, first time in a long time. I am on the mend but haven’t cleared away the things that kept me going. The framed drawing of me was made at school for last year’s Mother’s Day by Little FictionHabit 2 (LFH2). I couldn’t possibly put it anywhere else. The old copy of the Guardian’s G2 has a crossword in it that I’ve not done yet, so I’m saving it!
Now to the books; they suggest that maybe I am incapable of putting books back on the shelves once I’ve completed them, therefore I must be a slovenly sort. Maybe they suggest that I over-commit myself when it comes to reading, that I probably never finish what I start, or am indecisive and therefore keep piling more and more onto the table in the hope that something will jump out at me?
The last two points are not really true of me. I nearly always finish what I start to read. Mr Fiction Habit says that life is too short to read a book you are not enjoying. He is right to a certain extent, but I very rarely pick up a book I don’t enjoy in some way. There have also been times when I have been unconvinced by a book in the early chapters only to be blown away by the end. I am also generally decisive about what to read next. This is helped to a certain extent by the fact that I am a member of 3 bookclubs. My reading matter tends to be chosen for me! It is in this respect that I am perhaps over-committed! I do find time to read my own choice of book, but probably not often enough. I am reluctant to give up any of my bookclubs though, as they are made up of 3 very different groups of friends and I have been introduced to all sorts of writers because of them.
So let me run through the piles of books and attempt to explain why each of the books is on my bedside table.
The top book is the one I am reading at the moment. Jack Kerouac’s classic On the Road. This is the sort of book that most people read in their late teens or early 20s almost as a set text to growing up. I never got around to it then, but it was recently chosen by one of my bookclubs under the theme “classic road trip books”. This book certainly falls under this banner. I haven’t finished it yet, so I may write about it at some point. Under that book are 4 books I got for my birthday last week. Pure by Andrew Miller, the recent winner of the Costa award, is a saga set in pre-revolutionary France. Having recently read A Tale of Two Cities I am intrigued to read this view of that time period in Paris. The London Train by Tessa Hadley is a story of two lives connected by a train journey. Unfortunately this isn’t a copy with the lovely original linoprint cover. Why Be Happy When You Can Be Normal by Jeanette Winterson will be my first attempt at reading a book by this author. I have found her fascinating to listen to when I’ve heard her interviewed on the radio and am looking forward to starting this memoir of her childhood.
The last book is the only one of the 4 new books that I have actually finished. In fact I almost had it done by the end of my birthday. It is a beautifully illustrated tome called Habibi by Craig Thompson. This is a graphic novel with the most divine illustration, that you can spend hours looking at a page and still find more to look at. I have read a couple of graphic novels before; Tamara Drewe by Posy Simmonds being the one I remember most fondly. I began reading the weekly installments of this story in the Guardian when it was serialised prior to publication, and then received the book one Christmas. Unfortunately, I seem to have lent it to someone who hasn’t returned it and of course I now don’t recall who the borrower is.
Habibi, however, is in a different league altogether. In fact I want to witter on about it so much now that I’m likely to hijack this post if I’m not careful. I will write something about it in a future post.
Let me tell you about the other pile of books another time…