I love books, I love reading, I can happily spend hours in a library, so when I saw the Modern Mrs Darcy challenge I decided to give it a go. The idea is you read 12 books over the year, each from a different category. I’m starting with the category “a book you own but have never read” (of which there are MANY in our house) and have chosen Amy Tan’s Saving Fish From Drowning which I picked up in a charity shop at least a year ago. It could well be longer. I’ve read two of Tan’s books, The Joy Luck Club and The Bonesetter’s Daughter and enjoyed them both very much, so hopefully this will be as good. One of the other categories is “a book chosen for you by your spouse, partner, sibling, child or BFF” so I’ve asked my husband to select one for me. No news on that front yet and I have no idea what he’ll choose. We both love to read but our tastes don’t entirely overlap. Anyway, I’ll start with this one and see how I get on. If nothing else I can take the book off the shelf (and make room for another hee hee!!)
Anyone who has been to our house has seen the evidence of that for themselves as shown by the bookshelves in our room, our daughter’s room and our living room. Exhibit A m’lud: In my defence, not ALL of these are mine. Just most of them.
My husband suggested buying me a Kindle or similar for my birthday a few years ago but I wasn’t keen. He was surprised, having thought (quite logically) that I would love to be able to have loads of books literally at my fingertips anytime I wanted. But I like the physicality of a book. I love to turn the pages (and I will admit I am terrible for dog-earing books) and curl up with a book on my lap. Somehow an electronic device just doesn’t feel the same. Yes I have definite Luddite tendencies too. I’ve always loved books and was able to read independently from a young age. It does occasionally cross my mind that maybe I use books as a way of blocking out the rest of the world – but then again maybe that’s just so I can have more time for reading!!
I’ve never had much interest in clothes/fashion/make up etc and the idea of spending a day shopping as a pastime fills me with dread. Unless of course its bookshops. I genuinely find it hard to pass a bookshop, especially one I’ve never been in before. I have library cards for Meath, Westmeath, Cavan, Fingal and Dublin City libraries. And at present I have books from most of these on my desk….
So as both of us are book lovers and read voraciously as children, we fully intended that any child of ours would be encouraged to love books and reading too. As regular visitors here will know, our gorgeous little daughter has intellectual disabilities and cannot read yet. But she adores books and being read to and will ‘read’ to herself in her own little way. Naturally we are delighted by this, apart from the sheer enjoyment she gets from it, this also helps with her speech and language development as well as her fine and gross motor skills. Oh yes, any activity can be counted as part of the home therapy programme 😉
When we moved into this house, I quickly identified two favourite spots for reading. I will read anywhere, but there are two favourite spots I have. One is on the landing at the top of the stairs right under the window. This gives me lots of natural light and also easy access to the books upstairs. The other is on the sofa under our living room window. After our daughter was born my reading time inevitably dropped dramatically for a good while but thankfully as she settled into a regular nap routine, I was able to get back into it. As she got bigger and eventually began to sit up on her own and then progress to moving around a little bit, my reading again became more confined to a few snatched minutes here and there. It was at this stage my husband became accustomed to finding four or five books left open at various places around the house, this was so I could carry on reading wherever she wanted to explore. And no I was not being a bad mum by reading while she was exploring, its just that there are only so many times you can feign fascination with opening and closing the same drawer and besides she seemed to get more fun out of doing it herself.
About 18 months ago, our wee girl decided for herself that if she wanted to ‘read’ one of her books or have one read to her, then there was only one place that should happen. On the sofa under the window, i.e. one of my favourite reading spots. This has now progressed to the point where the first words she says every day when she gets home from school are ‘book’ followed by ‘sofa’. I fear I may have created a monster. So now I cannot sit and read on that sofa while she is in the room unless she is engrossed in something else. As she is now able to get to her books unaided, select one and then climb onto said sofa, I have increasingly found I am being asked to vacate sofa so she can have it. This either comes in the form of a gentle shove (which is a great game) or occasionally the ‘request’ “Get off”. Charming. At least when I go searching for a book, I put the others back on the shelf, not like a certain little person!
And then the other day I caught her. Sitting cross legged (v cute) on the landing under the window ‘reading’ the book that was on my bedside locker. I may have to accept this is a battle I will lose.
One of the things I like the most about the way my little family ‘does’ Christmas is that I stay away from social media and the internet generally and spend the evenings curled up by the wood-burning stove reading. (I’m curled up there now too). Books are one of my favourite things. Anyone who has ever been in our house will be able to testify to my love of books – they are everywhere. And I can rarely walk past a bookshop, especially a good independent one. As for library cards……. I can and do spend many a happy hour in libraries, browsing, reading, researching.
Anyway, back to books and Christmas. I got through three new (to me) books this Christmas and had a load more I was hoping to tackle too. One that I enjoyed and may well have to go back to was Stephen King’s 11.22.63. I’m not a King fan, always think of him as a horror writer and that is a genre I can’t stand whether in books or film. I’d seen this book mentioned online somewhere and when I saw it in my local library I thought I’d give it a go. Its a LONG book, too long in my opinion, there’s a lot of dull detailed sections in there which could have been pruned. But it was the premise of the book that appealed to me – time travel and the idea that you could go back and alter history, in this case preventing the assassination of JFK. An unexpected surprise was the near apocalyptic scenario that emerges towards the end of the book. (I have a bit of a fascination with the apocalypse too!) Its a challenging read in a lot of ways and I’d read it again but just skip the loooooong boring bits.
The other two were Gavin Esler’s A Scandalous Man – a political novel again not my usual thing but pretty good and gripping (read it in a day) and Judith O’Reilly’s Wife in the North which I was a good bit of the way through before I realised it had started life as a blog. I wasn’t mad about it although some of it is quite moving.
Reading and a love of the books is one of the best gifts a parent can give their child. Our wee woman adores books and has a few rather dog-eared favourites which she can ask for by name and frequently does. One of her most common requests – or should that be commands! – is “Read it!” and she knows a couple of them so well that she can say some of the words in the right places. Needless to say her daddy and I know these books so well that we don’t need to look at the pages now when reading them to her (quite handy that actually – I can read a book to her and skim read a newspaper article at the same time – how’s that for multitasking?)
I usually have a few books on the go – a light novel in the kitchen for when I’m cooking, another novel or self-help type book for bed, non-fiction in the evenings and usually a couple of history books during the day when I’m at my desk. And yes I do manage to keep all the various plots/themes separate in my head. If I’m in someone else’s house my eyes will invariably be drawn to their bookshelves and I have been known to get a little twitchy if I’m staying over somewhere with no books. Going away on holidays I pack at least 4 books and generally buy a couple more while away. Last summer I packed Deborah Harkness’ A Discovery of Witches which I had bought but not read and was so hooked and enthralled by it that I ended up in a bookshop in Sligo looking for the sequel (Shadow of Night – read that during the week too). I’m greatly looking forward to the final part of the trilogy this summer and am giving advance warning now not to expect any kind of engagement with the world from me while I’m reading it!
Its fair to say books are a pretty important part of my life. My husband is well aware that if the apocalyspe ever does happen and we need to burn things to stay alive I’ll burn every stick of furniture we own before I start on the books. Time to sign off now and pick up another book – happy reading!