Right Steps & Poui Trees


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Reading, I’d Rather Be Reading: Weekly Photo Challenge – I’d Rather Be…

“You’ve likely seen a bumper sticker or a sign that reads “I’d rather be…” How would you fill in the blank? Golfing? Running? Fishing? Something else entirely? What activity do you enjoy most?”

This week’s challenge was an easy one for me. Reading. I’d rather be reading.IMG_20180315_073056

Weekly Photo Challenge – I’d Rather Be…

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8 Books I Plan To Reread This Year

three-booksWhen I think about it, there are not that many books that I have reread over the years, though there have always been some books that I have intended to reread. So this year, I’m going to do some intentional rereading and here are eight books on my list.

1. Lord of the Rings by J. R. R. Tolkien

I read this when I was 12 or 13 and it consumed me for a couple of weeks. I squeezed it into every spare moment. I remember a few times being so engrossed reading it on the bus from school that I missed my usual bus stop and had a longer walk home than usual. I cried when I finished it, as I wanted the fantastical journey to go on forever. My older brother was surprised to find out recently that I had never reread Lord of the Rings, as he says he rereads it every few years.

2. Augustown by Kei Miller

As soon as I finished reading Augustown a few weeks ago, I had an immediate impulse to go to the beginning and start reading it again. As though there was some seamless way in which this story could (should) keep playing out. I can’t remember ever having had that impulse with another book. There is a compelling mix of the historical story of Bedward, the groundedness of people and communities dealing with real life in the 80s and the mythical and fabulous running through it all. Cutting of hair was revived in Jamaican public discourse last year, demonstrating that things past are still present and things fictional are often not fictional at all.

3. Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

This is the first of Adichie’s books that I read and I felt its impact for a long time after I read it. There is something monumental about the novel, which captures brilliantly that sense of people living their lives into and through a major historical event or period. As the reader, you may know to some degree the outcome of the event or the details of the period, but what you don’t know is what will happen to the fictional characters. When I read this time,  I will already know what happens in this novel about the Nigeria-Biafra war. And I want to see what difference that makes to how I experience this amazing story.

 

young-warriors4. Young Warriors by V.S. Reid

A childhood favourite. My brothers and I went through multiple copies of this children’s novel. Maroon boys helping to defeat Red Coats was good fun. I have read it to younger siblings and cousins and my own children as well, but I’d like to reread it myself one more time, just for fun.

 

5. 1984 by George Orwell

Because of Donald Trump.

6. The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

Also because of Donald Trump. By chance, I was reading Octavia Butler’s Parable of the Sower at the time of the US election last November and then read Parable of the Talents soon after, both about people trying to survive in a dystopian America. Which was rather eerie. A time for dystopian novels?

the-middle-passage7. The Middle Passage: The Caribbean revisited by V. S. Naipaul

When I was eighteen I read and enjoyed Naipaul’s The Mystic Masseur and Miguel Street. On a Naipaul streak, I then read The Middle Passage. I disliked the book so intensely that it put me off Naipaul for life. Seriously, I have never read any of Naipaul’s other books, fiction or non-fiction. It is a rather shameful admission to make! I have bought a number of his books since then and have long intended to give him another try, but haven’t. So I intend to reread The Middle Passage to see how (if) decades more of living have changed my reaction. Then, perhaps, more Naipaul….

8. Summer Lightning and Other Stories by Olive Senior

This is one of my favourite collections of short stories; I still remember how much I enjoyed it when I first read it back in the late 80s. I have reread individual stories since, but not the entire volume. One story has  perhaps the most intriguing story title I have encountered – “Do Angels Wear Brassieres?” I will have to buy a new copy of the book , as I can’t find my old copy. (Trying to remember if I lent it to someone….)

There are some books I read and enjoyed decades ago that I wouldn’t attempt to read again, as I know that I wouldn’t enjoy them as much now. But it will be interesting to revisit the books on my list as a different reader and to see how that and the passage of time affects the experience. The two books that I read most recently will both stand rereading – Half of a Yellow Sun ( a few years ago) and Augustown (a few weeks ago) – and I  look forward to going beyond the experience of first reading to something more.

(This also makes me think of looking at the books I have reread in the past and my reasons for doing so. Another blog post.)

 

 


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A Bucket List of Books?

I remember falling in love with Samuel Beckett’s works in Sixth Form. We were doing “Malone Dies” for A Levels and, in addition to having an excellent teacher, the searing scrutiny of the human condition resonated with something in my adolescent soul. After the three novels, I quickly went on to read “Waiting for Godot” and “Endgame” and without hesitation declared the man a genius!

 

 

So taken was I with Beckett, that in a letter to my grandparents (then in their late 60s/early 70s) I exhorted them to read “Malone Dies”, telling them how good it was. I still remember my grandfather’s reply in his next letter. He said that at his age, he preferred to stick with writers he already knew and liked. It was the first time I had thought about having to choose which books to read based on limited time left for reading. I didn’t fully get it, but it seemed sad to the teen-aged me. I am now nearly 60, and I understand a bit better. I realize that I no longer have the time to read all the books I want to or would want to. Maybe I should begin to act my age, and not read with wild abandon.

IMG_9978That was how I read when I was younger. With wild abandon. Whatever I felt like. Whatever caught my interest or fancy. I never considered time to read a diminishing or limited resource. Of course I had time to read! I could read it all! I could read trashy novels, an entire fantasy series, a book about world superstitions, Naipaul (till I decided never again), every book by Jean Plaidy, every book by Beckett, “David Copperfield”, “Anna Karenina”, “Lord of the Rings”, I could read it all! I could sample something by an unknown author, wander off down unbeaten literary tracks, not at all concerned about whether I would like everything I found there or not. I had time, I had interest, how exciting it was! I could always come back to the tried and true when I was ready. Maps or GPS not needed! There were no flights to miss, no deadlines for this kind of journey! If I didn’t like the book, that was just another discovery to be noted. No question of time wasted or a reading opportunity lost.

bookstoreBut is that changing now? Or should it be? I don’t exactly hear time’s winged chariot, but I am aware that it may be only another 20 or 30 good years of reading left (given some family longevity genes). Maybe I should become more cautious in my choices, check out the bone fides of a book before reading it. Maybe I should spend more nights at home with old friends, rather than go for a wild fling, a possible one-night stand with a strange author! Blind dates with a book should perhaps be a thing of the past. Those pick-ups in an airport bookstore, waiting for a flight, may need to come to an end. Should I be drafting a book bucket list?IMG_9997[1]

I haven’t decided. And maybe I won’t change my ways. But what I do know is that I am accepting that I will never be able to read all the books I would like to. That was always the truth, but I am aware of it now. And that’s a little sad.

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