Friday, 22 January 2010

Book at blogtime

Books.  Aaah! Books!

Books are, or were, pre-children, my drug.

I love, love, love books.

I could, pretty much, read before I could walk.  Seriously.  I sound like some kind of freaky genius, and honestly I got normal later, but my mum just taught me to read very early (apparently I asked her to draw a picture and given that she too was severely artistically challenged, she wrote out the family's names for me, and the rest is history.  I was, apparently 18 months).  Either way, it's on medical record that I was reading fluently by 2.

This is not without its downside. All my mum's friends hated me. Well you would, wouldn't you? There's your lovely baby saying "hello-copter" or "rhinausages" (both L-isms) and there's smug irritating 2-year-old Plan B reading the front page of the Times.  Not understanding it clearly, but that's beside the point.

Either way, books became my thing; my playmate, my refuge, my best friend.  We lived in a wonderful Swallows and Amazons type lakey, tree-ey, wood-ey area.  Did I play Swallows and Amazons? Or Children of the New Forest? Or Swiss Family Robinson? Did I b0llocks! I was far too busy sitting inside reading them.

And now, as an adult, it means I'm totally undiscriminating about what I read. I just have to be reading something.  Pre-children I couldn't leave the house without a book, in case of a spare two minutes standing in the queue for the post office.  Since children, however, reading's not somehow quite the same.  My previous diet of two or three books a week is down to two or three a month, and that's if I'm lucky...

Which has got me to thinking.  If I can't read as much, I must read better.  I used to be able to read the same book over and over again because I'd have read it so fast the first time I wouldn't actually remember it later, in the same way I can wolf down a tub of  Ben and Jerry's without actually tasting it.  But that's no good any more, I need to savour my reading, to remember it, to appreciate those moments of magic when I'm absorbed into someone else's imagination.

So I'm going to record them.  As from now, when I finish a book, I'm going to write it down.  And although I'm certainly no literary critic, I'm going to jot down what I thought too.  If only so I can remember.

So:  book number 1 of 2010.  The Storyteller, or the Hakawati, by Rabih Alameddine.  Bought on a 3 for 2 deal in Foyles because it was fat and I buy books by weight not content.  And, well, I'm  not sure really.  It's a story of stories, an Arabian nights; if Scheherezade were sitting by a hospital bed, wearing scrubs and waiting for her father to die.  Three stories, one modern, one historical (ish), one fantastical, all intermeshed and interspersed with yet more stories.  One of those books which doesn't have a plot because so much happens.  I enjoyed it, but I'm not entirely sure why.  And it made me want to visit Lebanon.

Next:  from the sublime (ish) to the ridiculous (definitely) The Host by Stephenie Meyer, famous for Twilight... watch this space.  Oh, and let me have recommendations...

Picture credits: The Bookworm, by Carl Spitzweg, found at   Oh, and (but of course). Thank you.


  1. Can I join your blog book-club? I feel like I oculd have written that post myself! Would love to compare notes even if it is a couple of months between each other! xx

  2. That's amazing...I love reading too. Just find there are so many distractions now. My children are all great readers too, but not quite so early as age two!

  3. i offer you my favourite book ever: Waterland by Graham Swift.
    And ... my recent fave book: Salmon Fishing in the Yemen by Paul Torday

    Happy reading x

  4. That does sound like an interesting book. i too buy books by the weight, more value for money ;).

    I actually rather enjoyed The Host. How ever fantastical her stories are she writes them in way that they become believable.

    Sebastian Faulks - a fools alphabet is one i just finished reading, good although not a very thick book. Still, worth a read i think.

  5. oh and ditto what notestoself said above, salmon fishing in the Yemen was a good read.

  6. Like you I was reading at a precociously young age, the famous story or me asking how to spell'kill' for a story I was writing at 3 is a family classic...although a little worrying.
    The Memory Keepers Daughter is fab...slow starter but absolutely brilliant and stays you (I am also a great book forgetter..
    Meme at mine for you, if you have a moment..

  7. I loooove books. Like you I can't get enough of them but just can't seem to find enough time at the moment. Its not a big book but I loved The other hand by Chris Cleave x

  8. Ooh! Lots of ideas there - and nice to know I'm not the only one with a serious book habit.
    George's Mum, that's a great idea! Let me know what you've been reading and we can compare notes in due course!
    Chic Mama. Glad your kids have got the bug too. I'm so hoping mine love reading - otherwise I'm going to have nothing to talk to them about in years to come!
    Notestoself - will definitely have a look at the Graham Swift. Have heard very good things of Last Orders, but don't know anything about Waterland.
    Heather and NotestoSelf, I enjoyed Salmon Fishing in the Yemen too - have recommended it to B, although as he only reads about 3 books a year it may take a while (he's on Life of Pi at the moment - waiting to see what he thinks of that one).
    Heather - will look out the Sebastian Faulks too though - I've enjoyed some of his others, but haven't raved as much as some do. I'm LOVING the Host though - 2 days and 424 pages in! Trying to read slower so I don't post two book related posts one after the other!
    MuddynoSugar - thanks for the meme - will have a think and have a go in the next few days! And thanks for the tip too - although I've already read (and enjoyed) it, although I did have to check it out on Amazon to make sure I was remembering it correctly! I was and it made me cry.
    Mum with carrot etc - another interesting tip. I read his column but didn't know he'd written a book. Thanks for that!

    And please keep the recommendations coming. For what it's worth, best book(s) I've read in ages kept me going from August to December - the Baroque Cycle by Neal Stephenson. They're either 8 or 3 books depending on which edition you buy them in, but an utterly brilliant synthesis of science, history, love story and adventure. I learned so much, laughed so much and was totally absorbed for 4 months (although not by the first 100 pages so do struggle on....)

  9. This is great Plan B, I love books too! I have been keeping a record of what I've read since 1989, in this wonderfully shabby notebook. Where to start re recommendations. I've started reviewing what I read on my blog, including what I read with a Book Club I've just started with some local friends. Best one so far for me was Notes from an Exhibition by Patrick Gale. We are thinking of trying the first of the Twilight series next...

  10. Wow! A list since 1989. I wish wish wish that I'd done that. You are very clever. Enjoyed the Patrick Gale too (I met him once - we did a classical music festival together and he was lovely, which is nice). Just read another of his: The Whole Day Through, which I didn't enjoy as much. I liked the style but somehow found the plot itself rather unsatisfying. Good luck with Twilight - let me know what you think!

  11. really liked your headline on this post!

    i agree with you totally and i was apparently the same re reading. although i also walked quickly because i was quite hyper apparently. (and i wonder where my 19mo gets it from!!)

    but i digress. have you read what is the what by dave eggers? am just finishing it. heart breaking stuff. but brilliant. my husb read it years ago and recommended it but i was too chicken. but i'm trying to read up what we have in the house before buying more so i dived in. plus it's apparently regulation reading in the white house because barack loved it. and if it's good enough for barack....

    right, essay over!

  12. Re the list, I think I got the idea from my mum, but then I am a compulsive list maker/hoarder of information.

    Baroque Cycle sounds interesting. I've just looked it but am worried I don't have the mental energy!

    I have PG's Rough Music waiting on the shelf to read. Have you read that?

  13. Haven't read What is What, although I did read A Heathbreaking Work of Staggering Genius years ago and loved it so will look it out. And I *think* it's a no to Rough Music but I sort of also think I maybe have read it. See what I mean about forgetting?!

  14. Go read Susan Fletchers book, please?

  15. Hi there Jen! Which one? I think I *may* have read Eve Green, but I can't remember anything about it, although the title and picture look familiar....


I know. I'm sorry. I hate these word recognition, are you a robot, guff things too, but having just got rid of a large number of ungrammatical and poorly spelt adverts for all sorts of things I don't want, and especially don't want on my blog, I'm hoping that this will mean that only lovely people, of the actually a person variety, will comment.

So please do. Comments are great...