Read in order to live.
Here’s a round-up of what I’ve enjoyed and shared this week on various social platforms on the art and love of reading. My post on How to read for more creativity, pleasure and productivity has been really well received this week. Thank you so much for the feedback about how this post has inspired thoughts about reading practices. Above all, it was so lovely to connect with kindred souls who share my passion for reading.
So to further share that joy, here are some podcasts and reads that celebrate the art and love of reading.
Podcasts on the history, art and love of reading
I listened to two podcasts about reading this week and they were perfect counterpoints about the historical contexts of reading and current ways to enjoy reading.
In Our Time: Culture – Reading – BBC Radio 4
In this discussion from 2000, Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the history of the politics and practice of reading. The podcast covers the history of reading in social and political contexts with a particular emphasis on how women were banned from reading in times past and how it was seen as a trivial activity for them. This historical perspective makes you realise how far we have come. I always feel a responsibility to take these hard-won rights forward.
Guinevere de la Mare and the Silent Book Club – on the Secret Library Podcast with Caroline Donahue
This was such a great podcast chat on a movement I had completely missed – the Silent Book Club. Developed in response to the occasional pressure and social nature of book clubs, Silent Book Clubs involve just turning up together to a venue and reading. It emanated from Guinevere turning up with friends to a bar and just reading over a glass of wine. And this is the flavour behind the Silent Book Club. With Chapters growing all over the world, it’s a word of mouth trend that celebrates just sitting in a public place with others and reading. I can’t actually think of anything more appealing right now. Introverts unite! I notice there is no Australian branch so I think I’ll start a Sydney one – if any local people are interested, let me know. Happy days!
Books and reading notes
My reading week
In line with my post this week and reading more and the accountability here, I finished two books I’ve had underway recently. Jojo Moyes’ Paris for One was such a fun read, full of chance encounters that result in quirky life changes and fresh perspectives. I loved the last story especially.
I finished listening to The Writer’s Guide to Training Your Dragon, by Scott Baker as an audio book. As a result, I’m weaving dictation into my days via my iPhone and Mac Pro as I work. It’s so easy and a stepping stone to using dictation more fully for writing and transcription.
I’ve continued savouring David Whyte’s Crossing the Unknown Sea: Work as a Pilgrimage of Identity in a slow read (probably too slow) on work and identity. It does, however, feel like it’s mirroring my life, so maybe there’s a reason for the slowness of my reading, so my life can keep time. A favourite quote this week:
To find good work, no matter the path we have chosen, means coming out of hiding. Good work means visibility. (p146)
Book notes on this week’s theme of the art and love of reading
Alberto Manguel is an author to savour on the art and love of reading.
His A History of Reading takes us into the heart of the experience of reading through a series of interconnected essays. It focuses on his personal response to reading from all angles, such as: learning to read, picture reading, being read to and reading from various standpoints such as translator and author. It’s a beautiful reflection and treasure trove on reading.
In ‘A Reading Diary: A Year of Reading Favourite Books’, Manguel decides to reread some of his favourite books, one month at a time. It’s a journey over a year, blending memoir, journal writing and reviewing into a reflective reading experience. There’s a lovely review of this book here.
One thing I have found as I revisited my books about books and reading this past week is that the authors are all so witty and funny.
A favourite book of mine in this genre is the fabulous Ex Libris: Confessions of a Common Reader, by Anne Fadiman. This 1998 book was recommended to me by a fellow bibliophile and it’s a book of essays celebrating the love of books. It’s so very funny in the way that only a book lover can appreciate. My favourite essay is ‘Marrying Libraries’ about how Anne and her husband are merging their book collections into one after a time together and the conflict and negotiations that ensue. So many great thoughts and laughs:
Books wrote our life story, and as they accumulated on our shelves (and on our windowsills, and underneath our sofa, and on top of our refrigerator), they became chapters in it themselves. How could it be otherwise?
I’m a huge Nick Hornby fan. No other writer makes me laugh out loud as much, and so I was delighted to stumble across his collection of essays on reading, first published in the US Believer Magazine. The Complete Polysyllabic Spree is the full collection of these 28 monthly essays on the books he has bought and read. I just smile the whole way through reading these essays. They are a romp through reading, including the classics, with humour as the connecting thread.
Some of Nick’s thoughts:
If reading books is to survive as a leisure activity – and there are statistics to show that this is by no means assured – then we have to promote the joys of reading, rather than the (dubious) benefits.
I’m a writer, and I need to read, for inspiration and education and because I want to get better, and only books can teach me how.
In terms of novels about books and love of books as a connecting factor, there are two main ones that stand out for me:
84 Charing Cross Road, Helene Hanff – My copy has disappeared, ironically, but it’s a slim volume celebrating books as a connecting piece between people, in this case, a London antiquarian bookseller and a New York based reader. Based on the true story of their connection and exchange of letter over nearly 20 years, it’s a celebration of books, reading and the connections they inspire.
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, Mary Ann Shaffer – This book is focused on post-war Guernsey and is told entirely through letters between various correspondents. It tells the story of connections between columnist Juliet Ashton and the members of the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society, as they live under German occupation. Mary Ann Shaffer wrote this book, her first novel, when she was 70. Sadly, she didn’t get to see it in print. It’s a heart-warming story of friendship, love and books across the miles.
Blog/Twitter/Instagram posts and interactions:
On the art and love of reading, Joanna Penn’s post on Habits of a Book Junkie in a Digital Age is excellent on digital reading strategies and trends including how to review books.
I shared the beautiful piece by Kerstin Pilz, on Tiny Buddha, How a 10 day silent retreat helped heal my grieving heart last week. Inspired by Katherine Bell’s guest post here: Our Heart Always Knows the Way, the first of our Wholehearted Stories series, Kerstin has written a fabulous post on how life change is all about hard work and not luck in Why luck had nothing to do with my self-directed life.
On Instagram, there’s been plenty of activity around Susannah Conway’s The August Break focused around noticing, community and inspiration. Yesterday’s prompt was lavender. Not being able to think of any lavender in my immediate surroundings, I went back to my recent iphone shots and found this skyscape I had forgotten about:
Another thought would have been the Murasaki-Shikibu lavender ink I write with every day – I thought of this hours after! It’s a great month of prompts for noticing and seeing afresh, also connecting with special memories, sacred objects and new people.
I also shared that my favourite novel is Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier. Here’s me thinking it’s an unusual choice. Clearly not, when it’s been voted UK’s favourite book from the past 225 years. I’m so glad so many people are discovering its pleasures!
On Quiet Writing and Tarot Narratives
On Quiet Writing, we have been exploring the art and love of reading in the post on How to read for more creativity, pleasure and productivity
Here are some other relevant posts on Quiet Writing on books and reading:
My Tarot Narratives on Instagram have continued to be a rich source of inspiration and insight for my creative journey. Thanks for all the creative interactions. Thomas Moore’s SoulMates keeps popping up lately. Here was a key quote that emerged:
I’m not suggesting that all psychological experience is interior, but it’s clear that the dynamics, dramas, and characters of the individual soul play themselves out in the external world, so that relationship is always a dialectic between inner and outer, a dance between actual people and one’s own life of the soul.
Have a fabulous creative weekend!
Creative and Connected is a regular post each Friday and the previous posts are below. I hope you enjoy it. I would love any feedback via social media or comments and let me know what you are enjoying too.
Feature image via pexels.com
Image 2 of ‘Compartment C, Car 193‘ 1938, by Edward Hopper, in Edward Hopper by Rolf Gunter Renner, Taschen
Image 4 of ‘The Quiet Room’ c1929, by Sir George Clausen from ‘The Reading Woman’ Calendar 2017
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