Showing posts with label Books. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Books. Show all posts

Saturday, 2 November 2013

Books Books Books......part 2

The last post was about books and in a round about sort of way, about a new bookcase I built.
But it got me thinking about the power of books in my life as well.

Some books are a diversion, some books are like old friends that you know are always there when you want to see them again, some books are a bit of nonsense, but make you smile all the same and some make you sad, but in a good way. Books are there, often at bad times (and I've had a few of those of late) and can be cathartic, can be enough to take your mind off troubles for a few hours.

Some books conjure up associations and memories with certain people, or certain places, or certain times in our life.

And some just pass through our lives, seemingly unnoticed.

I have memories of certain books. I remember reading Pet Semetary by Stephen King, when I was 14 or 15. I remember I was in my bedroom and listening to some music at the same time as reading the last chapter of the book. There is a chilling final sentence, as his wife, Rachel, recently buried comes back from the dead as something murderous, It reads something like:

'In a gravelly voice, full of dirt, "Darling", it said.'

That isn't wholly accurate but it was something on those lines. I remember as I read them a really weird thing happened. The tape I was listening to get chewed up in the machine (remember how that sometimes happened) and started playing all wrong. It sounded like something from beyond the grave itself had got into the machine. Rather funny now, but at the time it really freaked me out! One of those moments you don't forget when timing is everything.

Other key books that I associate with moments are Jane Eyre, which I read when I was about 16 for the first time. I couldn't believe how fantastic it was and stayed up until about 2 in the morning when I started it, reading and reading - just one more chapter. For anyone who only knows this story from one of the many (in my opinion) very poor TV or film adaptations, I urge you to read it.

The book I have probably read the most times is probably a very strange choice for most people. It is called The Magic Cottage by the recently deceased author, James Herbert. I have probably read this book 15 times over the last 30 years. Why? What a strange choice? you may say. It is something to do with a) the couple moving from the big city of London out into the countryside, in the middle of nowehere (seems this idea might have been in my head for way longer than I thought), their relationship and, of course, the Magic, with a capital M. Even though it all goes wrong, it never has failed to captivate me.

I keep short stories and ghost stories by my bed, for those times when I may wake up in the night. My favourite author of short stories is Katherine Mansfield. Each one is a gem in its own right. Often nothing much happens, it might describe a day out at the beach, but always, there is a real beauty in the way she creates characters, so quickly. I can imagine there is quite an art to scaling a story down to just a few pages, not one that many authors have and I can think of none better at this particular art.

I still have my shelf of Enid Blyton's and occasionally reach for one and read it, can be done in about am hour and a half. Such memories. I will never understand why she is given such a hard time by teachers and parents. She was singly responsible for starting my off on my love of reading and that is worth everything. Maybe her language is limited and so is non-educational, but should reading only be about education when you are a child? Surely not.

If I had a list of only 10 books I could take to a desert island to read over and over for the rest of my life, these would be them:

Katherine Mansfield - collected short stories.
Charlotte Bronte - Jane Eyre
James Herbert - The Magic Cottage
Victoria Clayton - Running Wild
Agatha Christie - Hallowe'en Party
William Thackery - Vanity Fair
Barbara Erskine - Midnight is a Lonely Place
Donna Tartt - The Secret History
Stephen King - The Shining
Charles Dickens - Bleak House

Covers most bases and women authors seem to win, 6 to 4.
Have a go yourself. It is hard. What is your favourite book?


Wednesday, 30 October 2013

Books, Books Books..............

As I may have mentioned before, I have a love affair with books. I have hundreds of them, too many to count. Over the last 40 years I have collected many, many and although I buy very few these days unless they are 1p on Amazon or found in a charity shop, I still love browsing them.
Many people have a different attitude to books, reading them once and giving them to charity (for which I am eternally grateful), and much as I have nothing against this - each to their own - I am a collector of them and am happy to re-read most of them over and over again, which is why I don't throw them away (obvious exceptions are books that I didn't enjoy). In my youth, I had three bookcases crammed full in my bedroom, which I left there when I went away to Music College. The time came when my parents wanted to clear the room and because, being a student, I didn't have room for them, most of them went to charity - something I am still sad about 20 years later, as there were some gems that I have never had again. I have never made that mistake since.
I love the feel of them, all sitting together on a shelf - Stephen King, squashed up against Daphne du Maurier and Howard Spring, with the tiny Collins Gem Book of Card Games at the side, (I am not terribly organised with them, enjoying the higgledy-piggledy nature of them) - all containing their own stories, their own people, just waiting to be brought to life when I reach to get one down. For some reason that is why an e-reader doesn't appeal to me. Yes, they are useful and mean you don't have to store books, they are light, easy to take a whole library away with you, yes, there are plenty of advantages and I have tried reading a book on one (my mother's), but to me they don't have the soul of a book. I love turning the pages by hand, I love the paper with the nice font written on it, and the feel of a book. I even love the way they all look together on a shelf. If I ever have any money (unlikely) I would convert my garage into a library with floor to ceiling bookshelves on every wall.
As it is, I have books crammed into every space.


In the bedroom, here you will find a real mix, comedy, thriller, murder mystery, romance, horror.


By the bed, all the books I may reach for in the night if I can't sleep, usually short stories and ghost novels.


In the spare room, on the right is my collection of the complete Agatha Christie in beautiful hardback edition (£25 on e-bay - bargain) and classic novels, and on the left a real hotchpotch.


Oversized books are in the kitchen, mostly cooking and gardening, a bit of DIY and anything else too big to fit elsewhere.


Even one of the kitchen cupboards has recipe books crammed next to jars of pasta and rice.


Jane Austen stands behind the day's post.

So it was that the time had come for me to find a new place for the piles of books that had developed around the house that had no home yet. I decided to build a new, small bookcase yesterday, to slot nicely in the hall and hold small sized paperbacks.

Total cost - £12

Bought enough wood, measured it out to fit precisely and screwed it together and put a nice, decorative front onto it.



Stained it dark oak, so that it matched the other colours in the room, then polished with a good wax polish.


And problem solved.


I am delighted with it, very low cost, and now these poor souls have a home. What's more, they are in order (for now).
Of course there is still no room for any more books that may just find their way into my home. Oh well, I am sure I will find another spot when the time comes......


Thursday, 14 April 2011

Avid reader of books.

As a man who is passionate about reading, I would probably have to say that my biggest luxury is indeed buying books - however, I almost never buy a new one. Sites like Amazon market place and green metropolis are best, although I recently found a wonderful second hand book site called Abe books which I highly recommend. Using the library is something that I only recently started doing, but as I enjoy re-reading lots of books I have often tended to not use the library, wanting to own my own copy instead.

A recent purchase of mine from Amazon market place is this book by Martin Lewis. It is a good read, although I suppose lots of it is fairly obvious for people who are already thrifty. Still, you can always get a few extra ideas from a book like this. I am quite interested in perhaps exploring the use of cheaper items for house cleaning, it is a low cost idea that I have not yet explored. I will let you know how it goes.