Recently I reviewed Andrea Goldsmith’s Reunion. It was a less than stellar review, but the book did contain some fun observations about readers and reading. So, I thought I’d share a few with you. The first one is:
With books a clearly signed shortcut to the soul, you would have to be either very stupid or very careless to make your reading public.
How do you feel about people seeing what you read? Do you try to hide the book you are reading? Do you show it off with pride? Or, do you not care one way or another?
And then, to put it another way, do you assess others – particularly those you don’t know – by what you see them reading?
Regarding the first set of questions, I really don’t care a lot. I don’t try to hide what I’m reading but neither do I flaunt it, mostly because if I’m reading I’m too engrossed in what I’m doing to worry about the others around me. As for the last question? Well, I might, possibly, maybe assess people just a little by what they are reading. But, this isn’t a character assessment so much as a “could I engage in a conversation with this person” sort of assessment. If they are reading a book that interests me there’s a chance I’ll make a comment – so, if you don’t want a strange 50-something woman starting up a conversation with you, you’d better make sure you are not reading Jane Austen (see below)!
The second one is to do with marginalia, which is something I’m guilty of doing:
She handles the books delicately, she turns pages, she reads paragraphs, she is gripped by old underlinings and margin scribblings, and wonders again how people can part with their books, particularly those that have hooked so deeply into their thoughts.
Must admit I wonder too … I am one of those people who finds it very hard to part with my books though, as I edge closer to old age, I can feel the ties that bind loosening, albeit ever so slowly – which is just as well as one day I will have to down-size. I may as well start preparing myself, emotionally, for it now.
And the final one I’ve chosen has to do with book lovers’ firsts:
Wine lovers remember their first taste of good wine, orchid growers their first glimpse of an orchid, musicians the first time they heard Bach. Book lovers, too, have their firsts: the first book they read by themselves; their first visit to a library; the first book they bought with their own money; and for many, the discovery of second-hand bookshops.
Hmm, booklover friends, do you remember all those firsts? I don’t think I do. I do have book memories, of course, but they are not firsts. One memory is how, as a child , I judged the success of Christmas by how many books I received. Another is how and when I fell in love with Jane Austen. It was Pride and prejudice of course, and I was 14 years old.
All this goes to show that even a book that left me wanting, still had something to make me think.