An impassioned reader's guide to books new and old

Sunday, 3 July 2011

Interim book post

Books from our former house, stored when we moved from there in 1977 at our magazine publishing premises, and then hastily moved into unconverted part of the house in 1999 when we 'retired'. No electricity, no heating and the walls are still as they were when we bought the place in 1969. It's our next project.

At last, a sound night's sleep and I wake to a perfect dawn, eager to be at my desk, writing. This year, since the week before and after midsummer, the weather has been so meteorologically perfect that the last streak of sunset can be seen in the northern sky, and only a few hours later, the sun rises in the north-east; the garden and village green is again bathed in early sunlight, and I cannot sleep. So I read.

Some of my favourite books, to which I often refer when working on commissions. They sit on the top two shelves of a bookcase my husband made for me especially to house my daily clutter (the shelves are not wonky, it's just the angle at which I took the photo).

Recent midsummers have been dull and grey, and I have felt cheated of this northern miracle, missing the early dawns, the first blackbird singing. Today (1st July) is one of those joyous days when you feel that any book you take into your hands, new or old - caressing the cover, the spine, the texture of each page, the smell of printing ink or the mustiness of the attic - will bring delight, no matter how obtuse the subject or the writing. (Although written early on Friday morning, photos were not taken until Sunday 3rd.) 

Yet more working notebooks, within reach of my writing desk.

In the depths of winter, with the cold here in the high Cotswolds seeping into my very being, I am more selective. Wrapped in a shawl (or duvet!), I'll happily re-read old favourites: 'The Snowblind Moon' (a winter book set in America's mid-west), or 'The Enchantress' which gravitates from 18th Century Geneva to the ancient Siamese kingdom of Ayutthaya. But if my feet and fingers are numb with the cold, I'll creep into bed early with 'Tess of the Durbervilles', grateful that I do not have to endure turnip-picking in stony, frozen ground.

Just a few of the gardening titles awaiting review on the cabinet in  my office; travel titles are oiled on the hall table and sit on the stairs, whilst art books are everywhere.

I had promised a selection of new books for this second post of my new blog. Awaiting attention and inclusion are piles of gardening books, many travel guides, a stack of mixed-media titles: the covers are photographed, I'm in touch with one or two authors, and gradually sifting through my publisher contacts. I'm assembling a list of outstanding independent bookstores (new and second-hand), adding them to the blog sidebars. A slow process - and a chicken-and-egg situation: until I can offer publishers a worthwhile following - and show it on screen, they will be less-inclined to offer support, and until I can offer followers something more concrete than reminiscences, they will not be attracted to this site! So please help me to spread the word.

Read the story of this find on my 'Wild Somerset Child' blog, here; I still haven't dared to cut it up, it sits alongside my writing desk for when I need a particular quote, or so I can just touch it, even though it is falling apart.

Indeed, thankyou to everyone who has commented on this new venture, and to recent 'followers'. I do so appreciate your encouragement, advice and suggestions. I'll leave you with some non-obligatory homework: 'Does the weather or time of year affect what you read?' Discuss.

Books mentioned: (links take you to Amazon and listings for new or second hand-editions and are correct as of 3rd July, 2011) 
'The Snowblind Moon' by John Byrne Cooke (1984), Futura Publications, div of Macdonald & Co (Publishers) Ltd, ISBN 7088-2915-5; 
'The Enchantress',  Han Suyin (1985),  Bantam Books, ISBN 0-553-17192-5; 
'Tess of the D'Urbervilles'  by Thomas Hardy (1891), Penguin Books.

1 comment:

  1. Ah, the reaching for a book when I cannot sleep - a comforting feeling. I like the sound of the western novel. When young and exceedingly bored in the late 60s and early 70s, sitting in my barrack room in Germany, I read through the entire series of JT Edson westerns. Imagine my surprise to find he came from a mining village in England. Look him up and read his biography on Wikipedia. It is an inspiring account of how he came to write so many books. He started to write as a bored young soldier in Germany - now that's what I should have done!

    I look forward to many more posts, Ann and hearing your suggestions for more 'good reads'. Thank you.