It’s an old, old story: I had a friend and we shared everything, and then she died and so we shared that, too.
Gail Caldwell, ‘Let’s Take The Long Way Home’.
So begins this gorgeous memoir by Pulitzer Prize winner Gail Caldwell, a testament to the power of friendship, a story of how an extraordinary bond between two women can illuminate the loneliest, funniest, hardest moments in life, including the final and ultimate challenge.
Just started on this today, and am already loving it.
Your mother goes to the public library, which has been down on its luck for a long time, like most things around here. Last time she brought back a copy of The Trail of the Lonesome Pine that was worn ragged, all held together with tape. She just sank into it, though, she just melted into it. And I made scrambled eggs and toasted cheese sandwiches for our supper so she wouldn’t have to put the book down.
Marilynne Robinson, ‘Gilead’.
Now, that’s a rather beautiful portrait of love in action, wouldn’t you say?
And the ideal partner for any book lover to hope for! 😉
Love consists of this: two solitudes that meet, protect and greet each other.
These would have been the next batch in line to receive their moment of due recognition, but as it is, there are no hard and fast rules pertaining to the bookish way of life around my shelves…. and so these have been pre-empted in order to give way to the not-so-random six that has been selected instead.
This ensemble was largely inspired by Lara Feigel’s The Love-Charm of Bombs, which I have been enjoying in the past week. I had initially thought it would be just a sort of ‘touch and go’ kinda thing, but it appears that ‘my random six‘ project is turning out to be a much more comprehensive affair. Not that I’m complaining, though. I’m really glad that it’s getting me to finally read the books that I have been long meaning to.
I read a couple of Bowen’s stories from the war years and discovered that she can actually give Susan Hill a run for her money in the horror story department. 😱 Check out her chilling piece, The Demon Lover, if you want to know what I mean.
Also read a couple of Greene’s essays/ reviews during the war years and am reminded to get around to some J. B. Priestley soon.
Sampled a bit of Henry Green’s debut novel, Blindness, and am making sure that I return to it later. It’s rather good. 🙂
As for Macaulay, she will be getting a post of her own soon. Anyone with the courage to volunteer as an ambulance driver during the Blitz, knowing that she was well over the acceptable age limit (she was fifty nine!), definitely deserves a little bit more, I think.
When a bomb exploded, nearby clocks ceased to function, remaining stuck at the time of detonation. London was a city of shock-stopped clocks and for its inhabitants, the suspended present created a climate where intense emotions could flourish. “It came to be rumoured,” Bowen recalled, “that everybody in London was in love.”
Lara Feigel, ‘The Love-charm of Bombs: Restless Lives in the Second World War’.
Am enjoying this very atmospheric read at the moment, after having pulled it out (along with several others), from under two huge towers of books (and a lot of dust!) that were leaning against my bedroom wall. I decided that it was high time the books get a good wipe down, and so after some careful dismantling of the two towers (& successfully averting a near major landslide of books!), these following six volumes which had been part of the firm foundations for my book towers, were singled out to be given some well-deserved attention.
I was seventeen years old when I made my first journey to London in 1909. I had never until then left my family, where I was as happy as one can be at that age of torment, with a mother and a sister who were ideally companionable. The three of us lived in a state of perpetual enthusiasm for everything that seemed beautiful to us, in whatever domain it might be. Debussy and Maeterlinck were our gods. That year, 1909, had brought us the dazzle of the Ballet Russes.
The Very Rich Hours of Adrienne Monnier.
Just started dipping into (& very much enjoying!) this delightful collection of essays by Adrienne Monnier, the lifelong companion and advisor to the legendary Sylvia Beach, founder of The Shakespeare and Co. bookshop in Paris. The bookshop was originally located across the street from Monnier’s Maison des Amis des Livres (literally translated as the ‘house of the friends of books’) on the Left Bank. 🙂
So, these were the first batch from “My Random Six” titles that were pulled out from their various stacks and shelves, to be given the nod of recognition they deserved.
I am glad to say that it seems to have gotten off to a promising start. I started on the Ali Smith, and wondered why I had waited for so long before getting around to it. Better late than never, I guess. Will be finishing it in a day or two, hopefully, before it returns to the shelves. Same goes for the Robert Macfarlane, and maybe even the William Boyd. They are both slim enough volumes to get through, at least.
It may not be much, but I do find it rather encouraging in terms of making small steps towards my mountains of TBR.
“If you cannot read all your books, at any rate handle, or as it were, fondle them – peer into them, let them fall open where they will, read from the first sentence that arrests the eye, set them back on the shelves with your own hands, arrange them on your own plan so that if you do not know what is in them, you at least know where they are. Let them be your friends; let them at any rate be your acquaintances. If they cannot enter the circle of your life, do not deny them at least a nod of recognition.”
Winston Churchill, ‘Painting as a Pastime’.
If those are not the words of a true kindred spirit, I don’t know what is. 🙂
It will not come as a surprise to anyone here to hear me say that I have long since come to the realization that the books I have acquired todate (& it’s still an ongoing thing) already far exceeds what I could possibly read in my lifetime. My only consolation is that, the pleasure that I get to derive from them are not just limited to the reading of them. It gives me tremendous joy and comfort just knowing that they are there waiting for me, for the right time.
At any rate, one of my intentions for this new reading year, is to endeavor to put Mr. Churchill’s wise words to practice. And to make it more fun (& random) I thought I’d use my Goodreads account to sort and select a random batch of titles in my TBR stacks for me to seek out and explore each week. I don’t mean that I’ll be reading these selections in proper (although I may very well do so too, if I find one that’s too good to be put down!), but rather just to do as Mr. Churchill suggests, to give them the recognition they deserve. This will hopefully help me get back in touch with some of the neglected titles that might have fallen ‘out of sight, out of mind’ along the way….
And so, as it happens, I’ll be starting off with these six here (within the box):
I call it Joy, which is here a technical term and must be sharply distinguished both from Happiness and Pleasure. Joy (in my sense) has indeed one characteristic, and one only, in common with them; the fact that anyone who has experienced it will want it again… I doubt whether anyone who has tasted it would ever, if both were in his power, exchange it for all the pleasures in the world. But then Joy is never in our power and Pleasure often is.
― C.S. Lewis, Surprised by Joy.
Perhaps this is one of the reasons behind one’s lack of restraint when it comes to buying books? :p
At any rate, here are some of the reasons for my recent joy and pleasure. 🙂
Happy reading, dear fellow readers!
Wishing all of you a brand new year ahead, filled with all things wonderful.