Sunday, 28 October 2012

The book is the only place in which you can examine a fragile thought without breaking it, or explore an explosive idea without fear it will go off in your face. It is one of the few havens remaining where a man's mind can get both provocation and privacy - Edward P. Morgan

I went back to my roots this week.  To Wales.  The land of song.  And all things beautiful. 

It was good to get outside, in the sea air.  In the wind, the rain.  And in the sunshine.  Yes, the sun shone.  Intermittently, it must be said.  Chased by stormy clouds.  But it shone all the same.

It was good to be back with my family.  Talking to people rather than my cats. Although they can be easier to deal with.  I'm so out of practice being in human company 24/7.  I forgot how challenging human relations can be...

But never fear, my Kindle was near!  My dear, little Kindle. Ready to soothe my soul.  Along with a good dose of chocolate and a good deal of wine. 

Once I was en route, I forgot that I was reading an electronic device.  Even when the warnings came on board the plane.  Which was only a problem apparently on the third flight.  An officious steward informed me I could down the plane if I continued reading my Kindle during take off.  Well, he didn’t use those exact words, but the inference was there.  I chose not to challenge his theory.  However, the inconsistency in plane security did not reassure me. 
My Kindle aroused interest too.  One security man didn’t know what it was.  And needed an explanation.  I gushed.  He seemed duly impressed.  By the Kindle, not my gushing, I presume.
I read John Grisham's The Confession.  It was wonderful.  I not only forgot I was reading an electronic device, but I also forgot I was hanging around in airports, flying and having a generally tedious time.  What a great storyteller JG is.  It’s all so easy and flowing and gripping and tense.  I cried and gasped out loud.  In public.  On my own.  I know.  It was a tad disturbing.  For me as much as for anyone around me. 
Although I was not alone.  A fellow passenger, a lady of a certain age, was reading Sue Townsend beside me.  She giggled intermittently all through our flight.  She apologised.  She was truly embarrassed.  But it was the sweetest thing.  It made me giggle. And I wanted to read what she was reading...

Tuesday, 16 October 2012

The man who does not read good books has no advantage over the man who can't read - Mark Twain

This week in work I took a course on learning more effective reading.  More speed and more efficiency.  Normally, I’m not one for courses.  I do love to learn.  But my experience has been that one- or two-day courses are a let-down.  Lots of chatter, no substance.  While work is piling up back in the office. So no tangible benefits.

However, I’d heard good things about this course.  And presently, lack of sleep and other post-accident factors mean that my concentration is not what it should be and I take much longer to do most things.  Reading being one of them.  I’m not saying I want to read quickly.  The pleasure has never been tarnished for me because I am a naturally slow reader.  It’s true though that, with less time available, I do tend to linger in books for weeks rather than days. Like I'm stuck.  And that can be somewhat annoying. 

The problem of course is having tons of unnecessary things to read.  And today the tons are multiplying.  Emails, text messages, internet pages, newspapers, documents.  In work and at home.  I am surely not alone in hating wasting time doing anything that seemingly adds nothing to your life. 

Hence the course.  Speedily and efficiently dealing with things I have to read, but don’t want to.  Leaving time to sit back and enjoy reading things I do want to read.

That’s the theory anyway.  I was, however, a tad stressed learning how to skim through pages just picking up words or ideas.  Appalled, indeed.  Learning how not to read the detail. Anti reading.  Especially as we were using for the exercise what would seem to be a very interesting book.  Hiroshima, by John Hersey.  Now in my Amazon shopping basket.  How anal of me.  On so many levels. 

Still the exercise did the job.  After a couple of efforts, I started to get the hang of it.  And I was more speedy and more effective.  It will need practise.  Preferably with dull text.  But if it opens up a time saver for me, then that’s good.  Disposing efficiently of the uninteresting to linger in the interesting.

And having just received Dostoevsky's The Karamazov Brothers (from my list of classics to read) I may need my speed and efficiency sooner rather than later.  It's huge.  A tome and a half.  I will need to buy out all the time possible to linger through it.  And so begins another labour of love...