Finding my way in this online world of blogs. Very slowly. Meanwhile, I will continue, as I have, posting my own person brain farts.
Reading book reviews on books that I am tempted by simply because the reviewer has such a facility with words that he/she has made the book appealing. My pile of To Be Read books is so high (and that is only the unread new ones…there a several thousand old ones on the shelves that I want to reread) that I must not buy these books. I know they would only sit on my To Be Read pile, possibly for years.
On Tumblr I also follow book enthusiasts and I love looking at photos of libraries and book shelves. I have noted that I am falling behind current fiction. I love recognizing books that I own sitting on someone else’s book shelves. That happens less and less. I recognize a lot of the titles since I frequent bookstores and Amazon and read reviews but I do not own them and I now know I will never read them.
People who visit look in awe at my book shelves and they all say the same thing ‘have you read them all’. I have not only read them all but most of them at least twice and some more than that. Aside from the pile of new books in the To Be Read pile, I have read every book in my personal library except one and I tried again this year to get through it and gave up. That will be my last attempt because I have come to the conclusion that I am too old to appreciate Proust’s Remembrance of Things Past. The first time I delved into the three volume classic, I got half way through the second volume and something took me away for a day or two and when I came to pick it up I found I had lost the thread. I realized it was a book that required time and concentration and no interruption. I did not restart it at that time but I remember I enjoyed what I had read. This year when I deliberately decided I had the time with no interruptions to read it I barely got through the first volume. I was bored and impatient with the emotions and, from my point of view, stupidities of the characters. I didn’t like any of them. I did not care about any of them. I had no interest in their lives and no empathy for their troubles and tribulations. I put the book back into its place on the shelves where it will reside till I die, a failure. In my life I have finished every single book I ever decided to read, except that one. As I read, I judge. If it is a struggle, if it is boring, if I realize I will never reread it, if it does not call forth possessiveness in me, the book is given away. The thousands of books on the shelves are all books that appealed in one way or another and invited a second visit. I am not a discriminating reader. I am not high brow or fussy. My reading is eclectic in the extreme and I generally read in a genre at a time. I confess I have spent my time with Barbara Cartland and Harlequin romances. I had a childhood of Zane Grey and Nancy Drew. I had my years of reading novels and my time with the classics. Historical sea stories like Ramage by Dudley Pope, Bolitho by Alexander Kent, and Patrick O’Brian’s series. If I like an author I try to read everything they have written. I love series, so I can spend more time in whatever world it is the author has created. James Bond, Modesty Blaise, Bandy and Cissie, Dumarest, Retief, the Dorsai, Xanthe, Hornblower, Pern and its dragons, Darkover and its red sun. Biographies. I started on biographies at twelve when I would go to the library and take out twelve or more books at a time and stagger home to immerse myself in someone else’s life. Today arrived Lord of Hosts Sir Henry Channon to sit on top of the Diaries of Sir Richard Burton which sits on top of The Portable Atheist. I just finished God is Not Great but while waiting for The Portable Atheist to arrive I began reading a mystery cosy on my Kindle and when the book finally arrived I did not step back into Christopher Hitchen’s narrative because I was caught up in something else. That is what happens. I will likely not get back to Hitchens for a year but sooner or later something will drive me in his direction and I will reread God Is Not Great and immediately after that pick up and read The Portable Atheist for the first time.
That is my pattern. When a new book arrives in a series or by an author I go back and start at the first book and read my way through to the new one. It is a habit I am going to have to learn how to break. There is not enough time left on my life’s thread to waste. I tried this week. I read the newest book first and then found myself starting at book number one in the series and am rereading it. Habits are hard to break. There are so many books I want to read. Fangirl seems to be so ubiquitous these days. My one son is pushing the Game of Thrones series but I am resisting. I missed rereading Lord of the Rings for the tenth time…I think the movie has somehow spoiled the novel for me. I love Florence King, Molly Ivins, and Gore Vidal. A lot of what they write is like early blogging. My favourite mystery writer is Georgette Heyer who is also my favourite historical romance writer. I love Harlan Ellison and Hunter S. Thompson. I enjoy Rex Reed and Erica Jong. Harlan is in hospital today and Hunter is dead. Seems like a lot of the writer’s I want to read these days are aging or gone. I read all of Truman Capote’s biographies and everything he wrote. My collection of Bloomsbury denizens like Vita Sackville West, Harold Nicholson, Ottoline Morrell and Virginia Woolf is vast. Same with Churchill…some people just fascinate. Eras hold my interest and connections between people. The Mitfords and their circle, so many of whom were writers. Diaries like those of Cecil Beaton, Cyril Connolly, J.K.Ackerley, Duff and Diana Cooper. Everything is grist for my mill and not a critical bone in my body. I either like it or not. If not, I do not give it house room. Fantasy and science fiction, mysteries and cookbooks. Books about animals, books of quotations, books of cartoons like G.B. Trudeau’s Doonsbury or Giles or Cathy. Movie and TV adaptation novels…I once owned every Star Trek. I owned every Robert E. Howard novel before Conan the Barbarian movie came out and drove me to buy my first betamax so I could rewatch the movie to my heart’s content. Dictionaries of Biography, books of photographs like that of Annie Leibovitz, books on life and death and feminism and misogny. Books of poetry and philosophy. I love taking those quizzes that list the 200 books everyone should read and finding that I have read 150 of them and the 50 I have not read are all current novels published in the last ten or fifteen years. I joined Tumblr and Pinterest, Dreamwidth and WordPress, Twitter and Facebook because I dread falling behind and losing touch. Getting old is a bitch but it doesn’t have to be.