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Books and reading

Monday, April 08, 2013

“The Bookshop has a thousand books,
All colors, hues, and tinges,
And every cover is a door
That turns on magic hinges.”
- Nancy Byrd Turner

I found this on my FB page this morning and it brought back vivid memories of the pleasure of visiting such shops when I was young. There was one in particular in the Bigg Market in Newcastle with shelving up to the huge glass roof because it was the only way, in the narrow, elongated space, to accommodate the stock varied in size, colour, shape, subject and age. Oh, the difficult decisions as I chose one volume to carry off, probably to half-read on the bus home; sometimes this resulted in my missing my stop but luckily there were two bus stops in the village! Peter Simple or The Scarlet Pimpernel? Heidi (where I first heard of toasted cheese), or Katy, or Anne (those bold heroines from faraway North America) or Jane Eyre or Elizabeth Bennett? Edward Dantes? Sidney Carton? At the time I found this decision excruciating but now I just wish there were such a plethora of "must reads" ahead of me. Make no mistake, I still enjoy choosing and reading books but the sheer joy and certainty of anticipating the pleasure and stimulation of finding hithertofore unknown treasures , alas, has faded, chased away by the pressures of age and daily life.
Even in its more pastel form, however, reading is one of the great pleasures in my life. Nothing takes me away from the slings and arrows aspect of daily life like a well written and illustrated biography, or thoughtful account of travels, or well documented history, or truly imaginative fiction. or true stress relief I often turn to the tried and true classics from my childhood; in a rapidly changing world, peppered with news reports of often horrible events revealing man's inhumanity to man, there's a lot of comfort and reassurance offered by the likes of Richardson, Defoe, Dickens, Thackeray, Eliot, Dumas, Austen, the Brontes, H G Wells and Trollope.
In the last 18 months I started an informal reading group which meets monthly one afternoon at my home. There is no charge and few rules. No food is one of these rules and previous book groups to which I've belonged have sometimes allowed the refreshments to become the main focus. And such refreshments! Pavlova, scones with jam and cream, muffins packed with chocolate - I wonder any of us slept after the evening's indulgence, I know I often didn't. Each member of Craicing On speaks briefly about their month's reading, which can be books, magazines, ebooks, newspaper articles or, in one case, letters written from a New Guinea Mission in the 1950s. The group has proven more successful than I ever hoped. It has provided far more than an exchange of titles as people who had never met one another come together over their reading. Earthquake stories, worries and concerns have been shared and some of the latter abated as participants realise they are not alone or coping inadequately. Discussion of the reading takes people away for an hour or two from shattered homes, fights with insurance companies and uncertain futures.

And my own experience has been borne out in studies: reading IS good for health.
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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    Spoken like a true fellow bookaholic! Read on!
    1816 days ago
    I too used to get my books there when i visited Newcastle with my grandmother it was the last place we used to visit before walking to malborough crescent bus station for our bus home now i purchase all my books from charity shops i visit.I love reading true life stories particularly Torey Hayden emoticon
    1836 days ago
    My family share a love of reading. It's a joy to have everyone emersed in their own book, laugh and read a passage out loud to everyone, or slam a book closed with annoyance over a character's innane decision or comment, or just realize that somehow the room has gotten dark and no one has noticed as time has passed so enjoyably. I love that my girls eat up words. That we can appreciate good work. That we can allow each other to escape as we need to into other worlds and choose to let them go or follow them in. Precious moments. I have a hilarious memory. I used to read out loud to the girls every holiday trip. I do love reading aloud. The accents and nuances... I really get into it.and one year, the girls being a bit older they asked me as we were leaving the house what we were going to read. I had not planned anything so was relieved when I saw a book on my shelf that I thought had lots of themes that would appeal to all my family. Yes yes, I had really enjoyed that one. It was fine for the first 75 pages or so but we got to some rather graphic love scenes. I'd forgotten! "Oh girls, I can't read this out loud!" "Oh Mom, we've read much worse, believe me! Don't stop now!" And from the seat behind us on the plane... "Oh, no please don't stop now" and several seats of passengers laughing. Ah...

    Love the idea of your book club. Sharing titles and reading experiences is a marvelous theme. Good for you! It really serves a much bigger purpose.
    1837 days ago
    emoticon those of us who have found the power of books may find the world so much more pleasant.
    1837 days ago
    I've always loved reading, and it's an escape and a stress reliever for me.
    1837 days ago
    I really enjoyed reading your blog and I thank you for sharing. emoticon It is always interesting to me to learn how people fall in love with reading and your story is pretty interesting. I fell in love with books by "mistake" by reading interesting stories while in school plus it became an escape for me, as a child, from severe stress due to abuse, after 3rd grade. emoticon

    I have never lived in England and I think your country is the faraway place, emoticon the place I wish to visit one of these days. And, I really enjoyed the article connected to your link. Thanks and have a wonderful week! Chelsea (USA, Florida). emoticon emoticon
    1837 days ago
  • TERESA159
    I love reading and wish I could just spend all of my time doing that. Ha. Yesterday I went to the bookstore and brought home 7 new books! Spent a fortune but I figure it's my one costly habit so what the heck. I'm finding it harder and harder to find good fiction. There's a lot of crap out there in pretty covers. So, if you want to recommend any good authors, please do. Are you on GoodReads?

    Oh, and Book Crossing? Do you know of that? It's sharing books with the world by leaving them laying about in public to be found by unsuspecting readers.
    1837 days ago

    Comment edited on: 4/9/2013 10:33:16 AM
    What a great blog! When I was young one of the greatest pleasures of my life was visiting a place called Whitlock's Book Barn. Two old barns had been converted into enormous collections of used books. When you made your choices, you put the money in a box because they did not have somebody to attend to the cash register--which did not even exist at that point.

    I recently gave up on my book club because the women were turning it into a garden of gastronomical delights and boasting about their children and grandchildren and have no tolerance for anything written before "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" which is when, I think, literature commenced for them.

    Your book club sounds simply wonderful!
    1837 days ago
    For me, as a child, it was a trip to the library once a week to borrow stacks of books. I still read as much as I can and would be lost without books.

    Your reading group sounds awesome! I'm glad it has worked out so well.
    1837 days ago
    I love reading and your book club sounds a joy.
    1837 days ago
    1837 days ago
    I love my bookclub as well! Though there is food. But a rule only healthy and no more than one savoury one sweet. It wasn't about the unhealthiness of food but more so that whoever was hosting would not feel panicked about not being able to keep up with the spread the past month....
    1838 days ago
    I belong to a co-op bookstore and it is still one of the best things to go in there and browse. My children love to remember going to the bookstore and now I take my grandson. I signed up for a challenge with one of my Spark Teams to read for 6 minutes a day to improve my stress level.
    1838 days ago
    What a great idea, the no-food rule! Now if I could only persuade my staff to have no-food potlucks! Seriously, I applaud you for having the sense to draw this line rather than putting yourself in harm's way, as it were, even one night a month. Why court failure? This way you have the camaraderie without the calories.
    1838 days ago
    We stayed near Read Street in Perth, and I kept thinking that's the kind of sign that should be in school libraries - "Welcome to Read Street!"
    1838 days ago
    I also love reading anything I can get my hands on. Glad the group is going great and love the rule of no food.
    emoticon emoticon mm
    1838 days ago
    I am so happy to know that your book club is doing well and all the friendship from there.
    Also No foods!! That's a so good idea, (*^^*)

    For me, unfortunately, My book case got so full and there are no more space to hold not even one more thin book. So I now, thanks to the technologies and that I love convenience of e-books, which I have Kindle by Amazon. It is much cheaper then paper book or hard cover and you do not have to go to book store. No space necessary. You can read it right a way as soon as you've down load it. No waiting time. Sorry Penny, but I just love it. I kind think its a Eco friendly too. Since no paper or ink need it. You can carry thousand of books in my IPad apps. But you are so right about the magic things... That's kinda missing on the e- books. On this new technology, you might not able to find a magic door hinges..it will bring you to the vivid memories of child's hood.
    1838 days ago
  • NAVYMOM133
    STORYCRAFTER said it perfectly. What a lovely post! You know, my level of delight has lessened with age as well. I still love to read but I don't "get lost" in it anymore.
    Craicing On really sounds wonderful and I am SO GLAD it's food-free. That's the best idea yet. If I have to grit my teeth through one more thing with food... ARGH!

    emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon
    1838 days ago
  • PCOH051610
    Ah, this sure hit home for me. I've had a fondness for British writers and just yesterday I was telling my husband about the thrill when I discovered Enid Blyton. (Spelling)

    My brother and I were avid readers growing up and we still have very fond memories of taking out books in a shopping bag and sitting outside the library until it opened. Reading kept us both out of a lot of trouble and to this day I love the look, the feel, and the smell of books.

    I love the idea of your book club. Last fall I started keeping a journal of the books I read because it felt like I was falling away from it. That sometimes happens when you work in a library as you just get overwhelmed. But, I'm back at it now and just love that feeling of wondering what certain characters are doing these days ..... Long after the actual book has been finished.

    Again, thank you for the wonderful blog
    1838 days ago
    I also share your joy of reading .. It was my comfort as a child whilst kept in bed unable to breath with Bronchial Asthma.
    My big braw Scottish Grandfather taught me to read at the age of 4 and I have been reading ever since.
    I too read all the classics . I particularly loved Anne of Green Gables and What Katy did books.
    Now I read on my I pad ..
    Thanks for the lovely post .. Hugs Susie emoticon emoticon emoticon
    1838 days ago
    What a lovely post! I share your joy in reading, and I remember the thrill of going to the library as a child and carefully choosing my books for the week. Your book group sounds wonderful!
    1838 days ago
    Reading is awesome...
    I love it...
    Never used to read at all until I studied for a couple of years a few years ago and had book reviews to do....since then I am continually reading something.....
    1838 days ago
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