The Books Piled Beside the Bed – Pt 3

This edition of the Book Pile features reads from some fellow bloggers – I hope you will check them out and see for yourself what has so pleased me.  And as a complete aside, today happens to be my third anniversary on WordPress – what a great three years it has been – thanks to all you lovely folk out there xoxo

Bits of a Boyhood

An on-line biography found here subtitled ‘Growing Up in New Zealand’

I have never liked reading electronically, though many have told me the kindle is eye friendly- I just like books! I like the weight of them and the smell of them and the feel of them. I like reading covers and back covers and author profiles. I like rifling the pages and fiddling with my book mark which is tactile and friendly in my hands when the story is winding down or I am winding down ……….  Despite that, late last year I spent some time reading an on-line biography written by Mr Bruce Goodman of Weave a Web fame. Covering the fifties and sixties and set in rural New Zealand the story is told compassionately and humorously of growing up in a large, rambunctious, Catholic family.    I know much of the era and the areas and the descriptions resounded strongly for me.  The pathos and humour of a boy sometimes struggling to understand the complex world of older siblings and grown-ups was a delightfully innocent read.  Do wander over and have a read, it’s free and it’s delightful and give my friend Bruce a thumbs up.

And, coincidentally, Just to stay in a similar vein, I began this past months reading of real books with the delightful

Dead Flies and Sherry Trifle – Geoff Le Pard

DeadFlies

I should start by admitting I’m not much given to reading a book where the protagonist is a nineteen year old youth …..  and I continued past the first pages only because I had promised to read and review Geoff’s book.  And yep, was I glad I did!

I’m a fan of Geoff’s writing style –  found on his blog TanGental.  I loved his month long supply of short stories back in November and marvelled over his ability to swap genres and weave on-going dramas for the same character.   My question was would his ability with short stories bear up in the quantum leap to a novel?

I can’t remember when I last read a book where the story unraveled so clearly and independently before my eyes in the form of a movie.  There is something in the author’s writing style that allows the reader, or at least, me; imaginative space to ‘see’ the characters and the context in it’s entirety, the whole scene unfolds like a movie – the entire book is a movie waiting to happen!

The story is wryly witty, the ongoing movie informed me when incidents evolved into laugh out loud comic moments or segued into moments of despair or desperation.

In the end what I loved most was the manner in which the story unfolded and revealed itself only as much as it did to the poor befuddled teenager, Harry.  Girls are a mystery to him and these ones were to me as well.  His parents behaviours and words make no sense – what is going on?  Harry’s love and care for his grandmother is a tender side story that weaves throughout, though even she is now a mystery to him.   As Harry twigs more to what is going on, so do we.  The characters reveal themselves sometimes in surprising ways and the end denouement is exactly what Harry himself would have wanted!

I’ve got another book by Geoff Le Pard in the pile.  I deliberately didn’t pick it up straight after finishing this one – I was so tempted, but I wanted to give this book time to settle.

[But I’ll tell you about the next one, next month, because now this post is up, that book is open!]

So I started in on

The Sunday Philosophy Club – Alexander McCall Smith

I actually struggled to get into this little book. I found the character of Isabel Dalhousie a bit stiff and unreal and not quite right…….  I wonder if it is because it is a man writing – and his descriptions of a woman’s thought processes and emotions are not necessarily actually accurate.   Or maybe I have just never known a woman of such a degree of philosophical ilk.  Despite this, the thing I really like and appreciated was that the story stayed real, quite relatable to how real people I know might have responded in such a scenario.  In other words, no derring-do, no flights of fancy, no taking on the baddies in the face of great odds.  Just a slow peramble through gentle nosings and visits and the unravelings of the mystery.  When the gripping bit does come it is actually chillingly real. I know I’d respond the same way.    I don’t know if I’d read another one, but I might.  If you are a fan, please do share your thoughts on these books, I’d love to hear them – I might be being totally unfair and judging prematurely and thereby missing out on further good reads.  [Heaven forbid!]

SundayPhilosophyClub

Included in the ‘currently reading pile’ are two little volumes I’m opening at random and reading a page from most evenings.

One –  [A Compendium of Inspiration]

The first is a gift sent to me by my friend Norah which I mentioned in my last post.  The photo shows the cover which bears the inscription ‘How many people does it take to make a difference’ alongside the giant digit one.  Inside the front flap poses the thought: Instead of asking ‘What can I get from life?’ watch what happens when you ask “What can I give?”  Which is a philosophy I thoroughly approve of!

One

 

It’s filled with little inspirational texts and quotes to ponder and muse over and take into sleep.  I feel really honoured that Norah thought of me when she saw this book and went to the trouble of sending it to me.  It’s appreciated and enjoyed Norah, thank you.  It makes a lovely gift!

A Certain Age – Cynthia Jobin

The second book I’m picking up every evening is an anthology of poetry from the pen of the rather delightful Cynthia Jobin who blogs at littleoldladywho where you can savour her words both written and spoken.

ACertainAge2

Cynthia writes about the commonplace, the every day, she writes too of love lost and love found.  She writes of her animals, her family, the seasons and festivals.  And sometimes she writes and I wonder, ‘Now, what triggered that?’

The art of the poet, I feel, lies in making the reader share the experience, in causing the breath to catch, the eye to burn, the ‘Oh!’ to form or a chuckle to rise and so often, having read, to sit and let silent contemplation fill the soul.  I so often experience one or more of these responses when reading the work of Cynthia Jobin.  Do wander on over and see for yourself.

That’s it for this month on the reading front.  Do share what you are reading and add in any thoughts to the books I’ve mentioned.

Thanks for coming by today, I love that you did.

 

 

 

 

 

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68 thoughts on “The Books Piled Beside the Bed – Pt 3

  1. Judging by your descriptions, you’ve been doing some good reading. I’ve added a couple of these books to my reading list. So many books, so little time, but I’m trying to make the time lately. There are so many wonderful stories out there. 🙂

    I have two books that I delve in and out of, too. One is A Year With Rumi, a book of Rumi’s poems, and the other is Falling Into Grace by Adyashanti. I like starting my day with Rumi and ending with Adyashanti.

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  2. Pauline, it’s been so long since I’ve visited, or it feels that way. I love that when I do come, I get to learn of your contentment.
    My Book Group finally restarted after an election induced hiatus. I’m looking forward to reading again (although blogging / visiting blogs definitely gets in the way).

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  3. Good grief, how do you manage to keep all those stories straight in your head? That’s a lot of reading time under your wing for one week. Isn’t it awesome to have time to do the things you love? I sure feel blessed in that matter. Do you have a special reading lamp near your bed? My eyeballs would be falling out of my head. Reading in bed is a sure way to fall asleep, or maybe it’s the evening glass of wine, LOL. either way, it takes me forever to get through a story. You could have been a librarian too, you’d probably read the whole library in no time xo K

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    • Don’t worry Boomdee, this is a months reading. Mostly around 30 – 60 minutes most nights tucked up in my lovely bed.

      But You’re correct, I should have been a librarian – except I would have been a very bad one, hidden around corners reading the stock instead of looking after the customers and the books 🙂

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  4. Oh Pauline, I can just imagine you with your new bedtime ritual all tucked up with your wonderful books to devour by your side 🙂 I have Geoff’s book, yet to read, so thank you for your review. I’m really looking forward to it. I find while I’m working on my book I’m not doing much reading (well, what I mean is I’m reading all the time, but slowly…as I find I get distracted while trying to focus on the task at hand…but then again, it is a good distraction…I’m waffling, ignore what I just said, ha!) but it’s always good to see what you’re reading next. What a wonderful book from Norah,,,’what can I give?’ Since both you and Norah give so much, I couldn’t think of a more perfect book to sit upon your bedside table. A Certain Age, the cover so beautiful and the poetry too it seems…thank you for the links. Happy reading Pauline 🙂 xo

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  5. I totally understand what you mean by loving the “smell” of old books! My husband and I– before we had our kids would wander old “used” bookstores. I loved going through all the old books. I love the old pages and that smell-something I enjoy…but, I have to confess, I have a Kindle fire. Yep, I use to say I would never use those things. I now use mine to read the news and other things. I read some books, but you are right there is something about a kindle reader that just does not replace an old book in your hand….
    Oh + Pauline, you sure have a natural talent for reviewing books-I want to read them all after reading your reviews!!!
    soon, you will have cooler weather just in time for more reading:-)

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    • Making my bedroom a room I wanted to spend time in sure has helped with the reading pile Robbie. Maybe come winter I’ll never get up, just lie about in bed reading and snoozing 🙂 Glad you enjoyed the post – I have some talented friends! Maybe one day your coffee table book will be reviewed on this blog 😀

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  6. Pauline, such nice, diverse styles and genres are shown in your reading pile! 🙂 I like poetry (and short stories) intermingled with a type of ethics or values book in your “One” gift book. I like how you read fellow bloggers books.
    The man writing an awkward character in a woman was an interesting point of view. You may be “on” to something because when women write their female character’s thoughts they usually sound natural. I liked Robert Parker books where his character Spenser and his black friend, Hawk really sounded masculine, and Spenser cooked well. His lady friend, Susan, was a counselor and Parker captured the tone of her conversations well. She was amused by Spenser and frustrated by him when he endangered his own life, while being a private detective.
    I have read from a collection of short stories by Stephen King called “The Bazaar of Bad Dreams.” I have started a James Patterson book, 14th in series about “Womens Murder Club,” 3 female friends, journalist, medical and police officer who get together to solve crimes. I like Iris Johansen, “Shadow Play.” Then there is a non-fiction book by Dr. Eben Alexander, “Proof of Heaven.” Happy reading and enjoy time with art and your crafts, too. ♡

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  7. Pauline! I have been thinking about Dead Flies since Derrick reviewed it and will probably go there now. I’m not a big fan of adolescent narrators either, so your recommendation means something. I also really liked Bruce’s bio, but I liked his novel better. Perhaps I should review that!!! And Cynthia’s poems will be companions for some time. Unlike fiction, I find I reread poetry. Re Miss Dalhousie, she’s a bit of a type and you may simply not like her. I must say I do like other characters in different series more–Precious Ramotswe, for instance and the vast characters in a series about an apartment building. But I haven’t read any of them for a while, so you may be on to something. You have been doing a LOT of reading, girl! Now that fall is setting in for you, perhaps you’ll be reading more. How was your garden this year?

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    • I grew into it Lisa, after the initial shock of realising I was going to spend the entire novel immersed in the viewpoint of a 19 year old [and wondering if I would make it] I kind of became okay with it after a while and by the time I finished the book I was totally with him. A real journey through time and space and gender 🙂 As Derrick pointed out I omitted to mention the unsavoury parts, having blocked them from my memory obviously – but it was still a great experience and a great story and would make a really good movie I think.

      I haven’t read Bruce’s novel – someone else mentioned it to me once and I meant to track it down, is it on-line too? What about your novel, that has also been mentioned to me as most enjoyable……..

      My garden was a bit ho-hum this year, it was either too cold, too wet or too hot to sit in it much and most of the flowers seeded fairly quickly – or died from heat stroke. I’ll be doing some heavy lifting work in it this winter!

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      • We feel exactly the same way about young narrators. Occasionally there’s one that works for me–Mark Haddon’s Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime or Scout in To Kill a Mockingbird. In any event, Bruce’s book is NOT a teenage narrator, it’s on line and it’s called A Passing Shower.

        So sorry about your garden. Ugh. The thing is, you can always start over next year! I’ve got some of my row covers today. Heh, heh. Take that you lagomorph spawn of satan! (pause to get control of self) I do have much more sympathy for Mr. MacGregor than I ever had before…

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  8. I’m reading short stories in literary journals trying to figure out what makes them tick and tock. I’ve subscribed to 3 – Room, The New Quarterly, and the Antigonish Review – all Canadian. Not because I’m a patriot but I can’t bear to pay the US dollar amount for an American lit journal. Underneath that stack are a bunch of books on writing that I’m working through trying to improve myself. (God, I sound boring.) Your stack looks much more interesting and so fun since we “know” these bloggers/writers through interactions. I would say I’m going to read these based on your recommendation but I fear I will not. I am a painfully slow reader and I often fall asleep while reading. (God I sound boring.)

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  9. I have to admit to being kind of mystified by McCall Smith’s huge popularity. I’ve read 3 or 4 of the books, with two different protagonists, and just haven’t been moved by them. You do a good job with informative reviews!

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  10. What marvelous reviews you have here, Pauline. Very thorough and detailed. If you get tired of crafting you could certainly consider a career as a book review expert. Made me want check out a few. All of this talk of reading has finally inspired me to work at reading a little harder but I have started back with audio books. A Man Called Ove by Swedish author, Fredrik Backman was my first try. I absolutely loved this book about a cantankerous old man and his life after his wife died. Encouraged I moved on to Secrets of a Charmed Life, by Susan Messiner. This was a fabulous story about two sisters during the Berlin Blitz of World War 2. Thoroughly on a roll, I am now in the middle of another saga of Indian descent sisters in Trail of Broken Wings, by Sejal Badani. In between I managed to actually read a hardcover John Grisham novel. I still have not tried to read electronically as I too love the caress of a book in my hands. Perhaps that will be my next try. We’ll see. Again, thanks for the recommendations.

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    • Thank you Jan 🙂 I’m really impressed with your international book list! I love reading stories from other cultures and times. I’ve added your three to my growing list, thanks for your recommendations too. xo

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      • Maybe one of the reasons I stopped reading I was too much in a rut with the same old suspense thriller and/or popular fiction with few ventures outside my norm. At any rate, for whatever reason I stopped reading, it feels really good to be back in enthralled in a good book.

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        • I think that happens Jan – my reading came to an almost complete stop when I stopped teaching. When I no longer had to read for information, study, lesson content, etc etc I recovered hours in every week and took to doing other things with that time. I so enjoy tucking myself up with these great books now. 🙂

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  11. Happy Blogiversary! I enjoyed reading your reviews, and thank you for introducing me to some new and inspirational blogs to follow. Cynthia’s poems are a joy to read, and listen to 🙂 and I have bookmarked Bruce Goodman’s autobiography for later reading. Thanks for sharing! x

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  12. What a wonderful gift from Norah. I’ll certainly check out that book. I love inspirational quotes and texts. Not sure I could sleep with the dead flies next to me. Ever since I saw the Vincent Price movie, “The Fly,” as a kid, I’ve been afraid of them. Thanks for the reviews, Pauline. Hugs to my sweet pal, Siddy! ❤

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    • It is an odd title for a book isn’t it – but the flies are almost non-existent and they turn up only once incidentally, dead in the sherry trifle. Norah’s book is a lovely publication, one of those ones you can open at random and find something to inspire.

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  13. Well goodness, you are generous. I’m pleased you enjoyed and you aren’t the first to thing ‘script’ when reading DFST – may be the first person narrator with lots of dialogue? Not sure. You’ll have to tell me who should play the main characters!
    And if that was your first go at McCall Smith then d give him another go. As Norah says he is a talent.

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    • I wondered a lot why it was so easy to see the movie Geoff, but have no answers. it must be your rare talent 🙂 I had some actors in mind too, but as I can’t remember their names [first thing in the a.m and only on first coffee] that is no help to you – but I’ll get back to you at some stage with my casting call 🙂 And, as the only person in the world not to warm to Isabel Dalhousie i feel I must give her another go.

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  14. What a busy reader you have been. I am in awe. I am still pottering along with the Anne books; almost at the end of Anne of Avonlea. After I am done with it I will switch to my kindle to read a biography of Daphne du Maurier. I would rather have the physical book but the library didn’t have it and I couldn’t afford to get a hard back from elsewhere.

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  15. I think I might have told you about the Sunday Philosophy Club Pauline. I love this series but I can understand it may not be for everyone. Perhaps you should give the 44 Scotland Street series a go instead. It’s lighthearted and fun to read.

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  16. Oh – I was saving reading your posting until I had time to read it carefully and had no idea you had mentioned me and my “Bits of a Boyhood”. What a thrill it was! Thank you! And such nice things said about it. And then Cynthia’s poems – I have a copy of her book on my desk and she has just won an award for it. She doesn’t write words; she writes poems. That’s the hardest thing of all to do. Thank you again, Pauline. It’s almost bed time here, and I’m so bloody excited there’s not a chance in hell of getting to sleep!

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  17. Great reviews Pauline. I haven’t embraced eBooks yet but I like audio sometimes. I really like books and my son says eBooks are good for traveling because they are not heavy. He is reading the Skullduggery Pleasant books (real books) at the moment. He is studying Jasper Jones at school this year so I am reading it so we can discuss. It is VERY confronting but I am also finding it difficult to put down. It is a very long way from Skullduggery. I very much like the sound of the book by Cynthia Jobin. I haven’t read anything by her yet. ❤

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  18. Thanks for this very detailed and interesting set of reviews, Pauline. I’m still anxiously waiting for two of your last suggestions to arrive – they’re not out in the UK till later this month.
    I shall probably check Cynthia’s poems out, they sound like my kind of thing! I’m not a fan of e reading. I’ve tried but I just can’t engage properly without the weight of a physical book on my lap. I like to flip back and check out parts of the story and it’s not so easy to do on a screen. With a book I know roughly where I need to flip back to, numbers or percentage lines at the bottom of the screen just aren’t the same at all!
    The book Norah sent you looks interesting too. I might check that one out. Now, back to what I’m reading at the moment: the book club choice – The Marble Collector….jury’s out on this one😀

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    • You’ll have to let us know what you think when you get it finished Jenny – sometimes the ones that are hard to get into end up being real favourites – ‘The Poisonwood Bible’ stays in my memory for just that reason. I haven’t heard of The Marble Collector so I’m off to look that up!

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  19. I gave started a post in a similar vein but not quite done. I have 2 journals , a little magazine , 2 books and my tablet to read blogs and several other books in my bed each night . It gets a little crowded but the tablet saves me some room . 😊 I’ll catch up after my trip. Hugs

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  20. Thank you for sharing you current reads, Pauline. I have read some of them. Of course I agree that “One” is great for dipping in to. Unfortunately I don’t often dip into poetry at the moment, though I do love it so. Maybe I should see if there is some available on audiobooks. That could be quite delightful! Thanks for the idea. 🙂 (Whether you suggested it or not, it came from you.)
    I really enjoyed your review of “Dead Flies”. Like you, I didn’t think a story about a 19-year-old youth’s angst was going to do it for me, but I was pleasantly surprised. You wrote a far better review than I did. Geoff should be well pleased. I agree with you about the flow of the story. I especially enjoyed the humour. I hadn’t thought of it in movie terms before, but you are absolutely spot on.
    I’m disappointed you didn’t like the Sunday Philosophy Club and Isabel Dalhousie. I absolutely loved it. I have read many of Alexander McCall Smith’s books. I love his relaxed style. I saw Dickens mentioned in previous comments. Just as were many of Dickens’s novels, many of McCall Smith’s were also published as weekly (I think) installments in newspapers. I guess it’s not unlike what a lot of bloggers are doing now with their stories. McCall Smith has a few different series. I started off with The No.1 Ladies’ Detective Agency. I haven’t read any for some years now, but for a while I just couldn’t get enough of them.
    Like you, I love the tactile nature of “real” books and all that means. However I am now enjoying having much more choice for my reading pleasure. I have many books in my Kindle App I can read on my iPad, computer and phone, and I absolutely love audiobooks. Being able to listen to books as I am driving gives me much more “reading” time. I especially enjoy it when the author reads their own book. Although I have thoroughly enjoyed/am enjoying the two most recent that are not read by the author. I listened to Nicole Kidman read “To the Lighthouse” by Virginia Woolf. It was an absolute delight. I can’t imagine it being read any other way, though it was obviously a fabulous read to start off with (I hadn’t ever read it). The same with the one I am listening to now – a non-fiction which is my predominant choice at the moment – “A Classical Education” by Caroline Taggart which I think, without this particular narrator, would be very dry. The narrator actually makes the list of historical figures and dates quite a treat. It is difficult to believe that he didn’t write it. He must be a very accomplished actor. I will have to investigate him a little further.
    Thank you for sharing what you are reading and inviting me to share mine. I will have to check out Bruce Goodman and see what we may have in common.

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    • Norah,I too was so disappointed I didn’t warm to Isabel Dalhousie, this is a writer who has come recommended by several people who read this blog. Maybe it’s just me – maybe I’m getting hyper sensitive to chaacterisation as I grow older …… I think I should try another one at some point before I swear off altogether 🙂 I like audio books too and when I was painting would often have something on while I worked. When I get my studio back I hope to get into that again. I’ve taken note of your mention of the Virginia Woolf. 🙂 This is fun isn’t it!

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      • Yes, I do enjoy it. I have read so many books suggested by other bloggers. When they write great reviews, like yours, its hard to resist. I have rarely been disappointed with a blogger’s recommendation. I wouldn’t worry too much about Dalhousie. We all have different tastes, and there’s so much else that you would love, why waste it on something you’re not sure about. I couldn’t resist it with the word “philosophy” in the title! 🙂

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  21. Pauline, I’m often at a loss to review a book…and here you’ve reviewed several. Thanks for sharing your current reading list and your thoughts on each one. I’ve seen Cynthia’s comments on your posts before and I think Bruce as well. How lovely to have a book of poems to dip into each night. I need to load up the nightstand with more books like that.

    I’m reading The Martian, our book club selection for this month. The main character is stranded on Mars, but his role on the mission was that of a botanist. So I’m particularly enjoying the science and creativity (not to mention humour) as he figures out ways to grow potatoes on inhospitable planet Mars.

    I’ve also started Epitaph for a Peach. (Do you see a theme here)?

    As for digital vs paper, I read all my blogs on line but prefer books in paper format. You can curl up in bed, take it with you while having a long bath, and page back and forth to re-read a section with ease. I appreciate the merits of both, but I also see the enormous pleasure at our curbside LFL and know that we’re not alone in our love of books.

    It’s so nice to find a post from you just before I head to bed. xo

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    • Yes, I see the theme! 🙂 I saw the movie before I knew there was a book called ‘The Martian’. I enjoyed the movie. I tend to get so many books from my daughter that going hunting for more is no longer part of my life. And recently there has been a desire to go back and reread my favourite classic authors, something I haven’t done in fifteen or twenty years. You can’t beat holding a good weighty book in your hands can you.

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      • Agreed! A book in hand is always a treat.

        How lucky to have a steady book supply from your daughter.

        I’ve just finished reading the Martian and enjoyed it. The second half is a bit long, but it may have to do with the fact that I saw the movie, so wanted to get to the end. He’s a funny and intelligent writer.

        Enjoy your classics, Pauline. Who gets to go first?

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        • Dickens is first off the mark. I’m starting with Bleak House if I can find a copy. It has always been my favourite. Then I want to move on to The Old Curiosity Shop as I only ever read it the once.

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  22. What an eclectic reader you are, Pauline, and what an excellent reviewer. I think I’ve mentioned to you before that I don’t read fiction these days, but I do enjoy wit and good writing, so your remarks about Geoff LePard’s book do make it sound very inviting. Like you, I also prefer the experience of reading a book made from trees; I had a kindle but I gave it up. I just didn’t like the sense of “mediation” between me and the author.
    Bruce Goodman’s “Bits of a Boyhood”, however, is not the usual format of an e-book. With his own creative formatting, it was a pleasure to read on my laptop. It’s just plain wonderful. I laughed and I cried. The point of view is very endearing—that of a young boy with the soul of a poet and a quizzical, quirky outlook on life. I would recommend it to everyone.
    Your final selection is one I have already read, maybe hundreds of times by now 🙂 and I’m delighted with what you had to say about it. Thank you!

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    • Thank you Cynthia – you have just said so succinctly exactly what I should have said about Bruce’s story. I hope my readers scroll down through the comments to find this! I’m thinking that maybe this winter I might revisit Dickens – my bookshelves once held most of his novels and they were well worn…. but as I have not read him for years and I recently watched ‘Dickensian’ I feel the time is here to immerse myself once more.

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      • I love Dickens. My link to the art world is calligraphy and what are called the “book arts”…beautiful paper, handmade books with sewn bindings and hardcovers, etc. There is nothing like holding the book in your hand, as you say… touch the pages, turn them back as well as forward, look up and out of a window, up to the ceiling, or momentarily close your eyes to muse on what you’ve read, and honor the voyage with a beautiful bookmark, too. All that has belonged to a particular time in history and I feel like a dinosaur, saying this, because it is all disappearing. But then, I will be disappearing too. Then I want to go to the particular heavenly mansion where there are all those great books! Maybe their authors will be hanging out there too!

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        • I once had a small collection of old books – well you know, fifty to a hundred years old. One of them had uncut pages still and I loved holding those weighty tomes and the feel of the paper, the end papers and the illustrations……. Maybe we are the old dinosaurs now, but I’m sure there will always be people who love books and sometimes there will be people who hand print and hand bind and still take pride in producing something that suitably showcases wonderful stories and poems. I can see you in the great celestial library hanging out and shooting the breeze with the all those wonderful departed wordsmiths 🙂

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