Reading – One of My Passions

I am a keen reader – and I loved that Facebook poll that asks which books you have read from the 100 listed- I don’t remember the exact tally but it was pretty good, perhaps 70%, over a spread of authors from different nations and eras.   It contained a lot on my ‘I must read, sometime’ list, including classics like ‘War and Peace’ by Tolstoy, but also on that list is to finish the rest of ‘Uttermost Part of the Earth’ by E.Lucas Bridges, and E.L James’ other two volumes following “50 Shades of Grey”.  although everyone’s talking about them, and one of my friends is circulating her copies, I just don’t have time just now for ” 50 Shades Darker” and whatever #3 is, being as I am in the midst of a piecing and quilting storm.

One of my favourite authors is the American, Pat Conroy (“Prince of Tides”,  “South of Broad” “Lords of Discipline” and others including one I must read but haven’t yet read, “The Great Santini”)  A book of his I listened to recently – “My Reading Life” read by himself and so itself a real treat – outlined the incredible depth and breadth of his lifetime of voracious reading which was started on a firm footing principally by the influence of his mother.  Reading aloud, bringing home books from the library, talking about them with her kids….  (I wonder whether I got a pass or fail on that one)  He reads at least 200 pages every day, and before commencing his day’s writing he reads a little poetry, (keeps a volume or two on his desk) – and his library totals many 1000’s books… no doubt he lives in an old large Charleston house to accomodate all of it.  Today’s e-readers, such as my kindle, accomodate several thousand books, so, that’s OK, I can read 200 pages each day if I put my mind to it, without necessarily needing space for shelving massive quantities of books.  The trouble is, I am sucked in so often by (a) the fabric and thread world (b) the digital world.  Does it count to your daily tally if you listen to about 200 pages a day?  which I am doing at the moment, with my iPod touch nestled in a pocket and playing as I sew, sew, sew…    The fascinating book to which I’m currently listening is “Postwar: A History of Europe Since 1945” by  Tony Judt.  Being an early Baby Boomer, it’s actually covers my entire lifetime, really, and explains a lot about things in my earlier life, which being a young Australian, was then very, very, Eurocentric compared to the more multidirectional outlook Australians have today.  Although I didn’t then understand why really, being very young, I do remember the  frontpage newspaper pictures,  (b/w of course) harrowing escape stories and divided family accounts following the sudden erection of the Berlin Wall – and now understand more of why my parents seemed so shocked.  And so much more.  I had opted out of history at the earliest chance, because the teacher, our principal, Miss Rooney, was so very boring in her presentation of what should have been such an exciting subject.  I had no idea what I was missing until well into my university degree.  Not saying that I would have wished to study history as a major, but as an adult I’ve become progressively more interested in history.  Reading the occasional history-based, fiction or non fiction, is helping fill some of the yawning gaps in my education and understanding.

On my bedside table at the moment is “Explorers Of The Nile” by Tim Jeal – its going to have to pick up a bit if I’m to finish it by wednesday ‘s book club meeting – I think it is very interesting, but I need to find the Dr. Livingstone- Menry Morton Stanley part of the book, read that and then let the rest go- have to hand the book in that day and someone is waiting for it.  “Call the Midwife” by Jennifer Worth is apparently the first in a series about a London  midwife in the immediate postwar years and ’50’s – I’ll try to get the book club to order the others, it was great – but why oh why are so many authors now putting out series and trilogies  (normally I seem to tune in at #2 or #3)  What’s wrong with a large engrossing single volume story, like Ken Follett’s books, and James Michener’s….. can’t modern authors handle the one large epic story  in one go?  Or is it the point that modern readers can’t handle the large story?  Is it a brilliant thing from  the marketers and actually all about money?

And this just occurred to me –  is this the same phenomenon as people making small  1m x 0.75m quilts and referring to these as ‘large’?

5 Responses to “Reading – One of My Passions”

  1. kathy loomis says:

    I’m reading Postwar too!! I’m finding it interesting because it’s Eurocentric instead of America-centric, the way I had previously learned this history. Slogging through it slowly — if I can get 10 pages done in a day I figure it’s a good day.

  2. Alison says:

    I am listening to it Kathy. I do a combination of listening (when walking the dog and myself) and when piecing or quilting once the design brainwork is done, my mind is free and hands are busy. The reading from a book page or a kindle page is later in the day – evening or bedtime.

  3. margaret says:

    Today’s trilogies are in much the same mold as the 19th century’s three-volume novels… and also link to serialisation, chapter by chapter, in magazines – that’s how Dickens wrote much of his work. I suspect that authors’ and publishers’ need to make money comes into it somewhere….

    Also interesting is the phenomenon of a novel published tweet by tweet, then published as a paper version. (It’s short!)

  4. Paula says:

    I love reading history. And I love getting new books to put on my list of must reads. I always have at least one non-fiction book going along with one or two fictions. Thanks for this Alison, I will check it out. For now I give you one of my favorites:
    The Glory and the Dream by William Manchester–a great narrative, easy to read, thrilling to learn, it is usually sold in two volumes and covers American history from 1930 to somewhere in the 70s. I buy it for people all the time. One of my all time favorite books to read
    For now I am listening to Watership Down by Richard Adams while quilting. I read it long ago and am enjoying the story again. Social commentary, historic allegory, philosophical depth. It is wonderful.
    And I agree with you about the fact that authors are writing trilogies more often, it irks me. I would much prefer a long wonderous journey that I hate to give up in the end.
    happy reading!

  5. alison says:

    Thanks, Paula – I’ll keep an ear out for Manchester’s book, so to speak! Watership dDwn – I have to confess I have never read it, I know it’s a modern classic, just a gap in my cultural education – and actually I can’t stand the theme music from the movie…. p’raps I should just get over it and get on with reading it.

    Meanwhile, back to work- I suspect I’m not alone in a flurry of quilting prior to the QN entry deadline- a couple of the lists I read are very quiet.

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