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.
Non-bibliophile (a.k.a NB friend) : So, how was your trip to the Big Bad Wolf Book Sale over the weekend? How many books did you manage to get?
Bibliophile (a.k.a Me) : It was great! But uhm…. I don’t think you would want to know exactly how many books I bought. You’d be much too shocked.
NB friend : Come on, it’s not like I don’t you by now. Try me.
Me : Okay. Around seventy.
NB friend : 17?
Me : 70.
NB friend : Seventy??!!
(~~~~~~ radio silence ~~~~~~)
Me (after the awkward silence) : Told you it would shock you.
NB friend : I didn’t say anything.
Me : Yes, but your disapproving vibes are loud and clear enough. And now, you’ve kinda spoiled my fun.
NB friend : Well then, tell me if you can find one other rational person who would approve of this, and to think that it’s normal behaviour?
Me : But these were such good finds and for them to be priced at just RM6 & RM8 each (the equivalent of around £1.10 & £1.50), I’m sure other fellow bibliophiles would find it hard to resist too! Besides, I value being happy, more than being rational.
(~~~~~ another wave of silence ~~~~~~)
NB friend : I still think that it’s way over the top and you are overdoing it.
Me : And I still say, I’m sure I’m not the only one who finds this to be a joy beyond words (or rationale!) :p
…… or am I?
What say you, dear readers? Aye or Nay?
So, there’s been a small influx of books over here in the past couple of weeks, thanks to an outing to a book sales, as well as certain online discounts that I seemed to have gladly taken advantage of.
As I am already rather resigned to the fact that most of my stacks of TBR will very likely outlive me, I guess it’s futile to feel bad and guilty for this ‘extravagance’. Personally, I always feel that the joy and pleasure that I get by just simply gazing at them (even before any actual reading has commenced), is already well worth the price paid for.
As book collectors know all too well: We only regret our economies, never our extravagances.
I first came here in November 1995; I had just won some money in a short-story competition, and because I was thinking of maybe writing something about Pompeii (it would turn out to be my first novel), my partner and I came to visit the remains and look in the mouth of the volcano. One day on a whim we caught the ferry from Sorrento to Capri, where Gracie Fields and Graham Greene had both lived, which was pretty much all I knew about it. We arrived in the Marina Grande, small and excitingly ramshackle. There was a funicular railway running up the side of the mountain, so we got on. Then we boarded a bus which took us up a ribbon of road too small for a bus and let us off in a tiny white village square. We followed our noses down a shop-lined road, and came to a Moorish-looking building. In we went – by chance exactly 100 years after Munthe bought the land from Master Vincenzo, the carpenter.
[….] It’s as if the air is electrically alive with it. It’s like hearing your own ear waken. I move back into the study for a moment. A lot of people walk past me – one of the curious things about the Villa San Michele is that although it’s pretty busy, nothing feels crowded – and I listen, first to the birdsong at the back of everything, then to what the people say, in all the languages, every time the house springs its surprise of openness and light on them. Oh. Look.
That’s what it’s like to visit the Axel Munthe Museum. You walk through a hall, a kitchen, a bedroom, a study, a place to live that’s lined and scattered with fragments of art, junk, beauty, history. Then you find yourself on a path that gets lighter and lighter; then art, junk, history, home, trees, stone, leaves and sky all shift together on the edge of a view so open that it renews the very word “view” itself. I’m laughing at my own inadequacy, at the inadequacy of memory, but most of all at how cunning this place is, making you open your eyes, ears, senses, leading you through from space to open space until finally you hit it, it hits you – a kind of blue infinity, an epitome of openness.
Ali Smith, ‘The Wings of Capri: Villa San Michel’.
Just read this evocative piece of essay from Ali Smith, and was reminded of the surreal beauty that is Capri.
There is a stillness and silence in the air up here, that is quite unlike any other I’ve ever encountered elsewhere.
Although this may not be the same view, as described, from Villa San Michele, but it certainly is about as close as it gets to looking at infinity, I’d say.
The stories in this collection have the music in them. The rhythm, breath, movement of language, like music, creates emotional situations not dependent on meaning. The meaning is there, but the working of the language itself, separate from its message, allows the brain to make connections that bypass sense. This makes for an experience where there is the satisfaction of meaning but also something deeper, stranger. This deeper stranger place is an antidote to so much of life that is lived on the surface alone. When we read, when we listen to music, when we immerse ourselves in the flow of an opera, we go underneath the surface of life. Like going underwater the noise stops, and we concentrate differently.”
Have just finished the first five pieces in this collection, and so far it’s Ali Smith and Jackie Kay who did not disappoint! And Julie Myerson was a rather pleasant surprise, I must say, since I am new to her work. 🙂