Three of the bloggers to whom I passed the most recent Book Meme have posted their versions, and I loved reading all of them. I was delighted and gratified when Tamar passed me the first meme, but didn’t pass it on, rather feeling that everyone should feel free to do these things if they want to. I was equally delighted when Lorianne passed me the second one and intrigued to note that, as I thought, on a different day completely different books came first to mind as significant for me. That second time I decided very tentatively to break my lifelong pattern of ‘not playing’ – always good to break patterns every now and then. I’m glad I did.
Ernesto (2 June - I couldn't find a permalink), not at all to my surprise, nominated five books of which I’d only read one. I mean to read the others. If you read the reasons he gave for nominating them, you’ll understand why. Many years ago I squandered the opportunity to be educated in francophone and hispanophone culture – university was wasted on me, as it is on many an immature and troubled 18-21 year-old. I did learn the languages, though, and it’s never too late to continue educating myself if I want to – an exciting prospect. He also made some observations about books and reading that resonated really strongly with me: “Let’s say that the last time I moved the only thing I owned were books… Literature in Spanish has its own room… I realised whenever I felt sad I’d go to the bookshop and buy like a madman… The thing with books, as with stuff in general, is that they anchor you somewhere. Books can become a very heavy weight.” Yes. Yes to all of that.
Andy’s list was a fascinating mixture of stuff I would never read (mountain climbing, endurance) and choices with which I totally identify (Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, An Equal Muse, Captain Corelli’s Mandolin). He noted that his reading goes in periods across his life – times when he read a lot and gained an enormous amount from reading, times (as a father of young kids, in his case) when he didn’t. He also noted sheepishly that all his chosen books were by men, as were most of the books on his shelves. I note even more sheepishly that, although not all my choices were by men and I do love many books by women, the majority of my great favourites are by men. I’ve sometimes rationalised this as the view into the mind of the other sex being the greater adventure. For I totally agree with something else Andy says, “a common thread… seeing inside another’s mind and finding there a reflection of my own… I see the character they are, admire their strengths, forgive their weaknesses and in so doing gain a little more understanding of myself.” Yes, absolutely.
Karen also proved to be the soulmate I thought she might be: “from childhood I have found my best refuge in books… I loved being taken to a different world. I still do… There are books I treasure because they bring me back to a part of my life… There are books I keep because they said something to me once, or because I sense that they have something yet to say to me, although I cannot read them now”. Yup, me too, all of those. Her choices were wonderfully eclectic, I thought, some of them familiar to me and some not. I must DEFINITELY read The Introvert’s Advantage, which she recommends as complement to The Highly Sensitive Person – the choice she shared with me. Thank you all so much, this will give me books to read and really interesting stuff to think about for some time to come.
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Very glad you're still blogging. Isn't it amazing how we see with the help of others' eyes & minds? We observe together or alone, but we learn to perceive in community, and then we begin to see on our own again...
For my way of seeing (and learning to see) your blog has become an important source of fresh perspective.
As I write this, most of my library is crossing the Atlantic to join me after almost ten years of separation. It feels like the approach of a lost continent.
Thank you, Jean. And thanks as well for posting that photograph of the reading room, one of my favorite places on this planet. The first (and only?) time I was there I gasped for air. I was finally there.
"... and it’s never too late to continue educating myself if I want to – an exciting prospect." Another one of your inspirational comments, Jean. Fits with a W.B Yeats quote that I came across for the first time this morning - 'Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire.' All we have to fear is that our eyes will give out before we're done!
Jean, thanks for leading me to several interesting blogs so that I could voraciously slurp down more book recommendations. I answered this book meme on June 6 and a movie meme on June 14, for those who are interested.