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Archive for the ‘Inviting Places in Which to Read’ Category

I love to read (and write) in my dressing gown.  It reminds me of a time when I was twelve and I feigned a three-day illness so I could stay off school and read The Lord of the Rings.  Not getting dressed makes a nice statement of intentions–I’m staying in with my book.

Gavin Extence, author of The Universe Versus Alex Wood

in an Indigo flyer from the summer

I hope you all had a chance to spend some time in pjs with a book this Thanksgiving weekend.

 

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and all the readers in it.

photo (6)

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I’m going to New York!  This is where I want to stay:

http://www.libraryhotel.com/offers.html

Each floor is named for a number of the Dewey Decimal system, and the rooms are decorated, and furnished with books, from the category.  With the Guilty Pleasures package, you can even have their in-house librarian supply you with books by the foot in the subject of your choice!

Alas, no room at the inn.

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for when we win the lottery

found on etsy

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OK.  I’ve got my geek on.  I’ve been reading Arthurian stories to Rowan, who is six, and we’ve listened to Sean Bean read to us, and, on my own, I’ve read Rosalind Kerven’s Arthurian Legends, published by the National Trust in a beautiful hardcover with thick, creamy paper and stunning illustrations by Arthur Rackham and other classic illustrators.  I’ve read a gorgeous Folio Society edition of Simon Armitage’s poetic translation of  Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, and tonight, I watched a one-hour BBC documentary of Simon Armitage’s travels through Britain to trace the places where Gawain is set.  Along with fantasy novels, this is a parenting-induced reading trend I would never have predicted.

(A quick bibliophilic, book-hoarder aside:  I very, very rarely give or throw away books.  I just don’t.  But I did, at some point long ago, decide that I would never again read Geoffrey of Monmouth or Thomas Mallory or Gawain, and I gave the books away.   You see what happens when you give books away?  You live to regret it.)

Anyway, if you find yourself with a spare hour, I highly recommend this documentary.  Armitage is passionate about his subject, and it adds so much to my reading to see the Green Chapel in all its mossy, misty glory.  Armitage, who is from Yorkshire, travels back home to the Pennines, where he believes part of the story is set.  My grandmother lived there, and it was such a treat to see that landscape again, to hear the cadences of speech that formed so much a part of childhood.  One theme that I have seen for the celebration of Mother’s Day for booklovers is to celebrate your first narrator, the mother who read to you.  My first narrators spoke with Yorkshire accents.  So this reading voyage has been as much about being a reading mother as it has been about remembering those who first read to me.

And there is an inspired soundtrack, which includes music from The Cure, another route on Memory Lane.  Check it out.

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"Unpacking My Library" by Leah PriceUnpacking My Library: Writers and Their Books

Edited by Leah Price

New Haven: Yale University Press, 2011.

This book was all over the pages of literary periodicals before the holidays.  The book is a great idea for a gift book for a bibliophile, and there are some lovely passages from the interviews with the writers whose bookshelves are profiled in this book.  Sadly, though, this book was a disappointment.  A good third of the photographs were out of focus.  Not artfully out of focus.  Just out of focus.  Not acceptable for a coffee table book.  The interviews were also largely identical.  The same questions were asked of all of the writers, by email I’m guessing, and while there were one or two personalized questions, the interviews began to feel far too similar.  It’s interesting to compare answers to the same questions, yes, but there also has to be individuality, some loving attention to detailed probing. 

I’m glad I spent an hour or two with the book, but it’s not one I’d recommend you rush out to get your hands on.

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My eldest came to kiss me goodnight last night and looked at the tottering pile of books on the bedside table.  Then he looked at the shelf of Books To Be Read.

“That’s a lot of books, Mum.  How many books are you reading, anyway?”

“Don’t go there, son,”  said his father. 

Wise man.

Actually, I am reading two books.  This one and the one in my handbag.”

“And the one you’re reading to us.”

Yes, so just three.

And there are a mere 124 in the pile.  Not including the (overdue) library book.  Also not including the one that was on the shelf twice.  But I’ve read more than that many books so far this year, so I’ll be through that lot by September.

Always thinking ahead. 

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