When I was little and my brother used to say these words to me by way of making up for some wrong he had done me, I would reply with the very churlish retort “well, sorry is supposed to be when you won’t do it again”. Perhaps it is time for me to eat my words. At the opening of my last blog post…many, many moons ago, I offered my apologies for my lack of blogging. I have repeated my offence. It has now been over two months since I last put finger to keypad and posted. Why? I will hazard a guess. When I began In my good books…, way back in March 2011, I made this statement…
“One of my major motivations when starting this blog was to use it as a means of keeping me on the straight and narrow, so to speak. Not in the sense that blogging will distract me from a life of crime, but more that it will (hopefully!) prevent me from re-reading the same books over and over and over again.”
I think, bizarrely, that within the gaps in this sentence lie the reasons for my lack of posting. It’s hard to neglect great loves…and it’s even harder to ignore them when they whisper sweet nothings to you from a nearby bookcase…
“It is a truth universally acknowledged…”
“Trust me, I’m telling you stories.”
“In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit…”
“…she always had the feeling that it was very, very, dangerous to live even one day.”
“…do it from the heart or not at all.”
I have been re-reading, indulging. When I began In my good books… I had the best of intentions, I sought to broaden my reading, to experience new books. I think, somewhere along the way, I made an error. Somewhere between “I must read more classics” and “I like re-reading” I surmised that my love of re-reading precluded my reading new books. From this conclusion I seem to have created a sort of shame, an unhealthy disdain for my urge to re-read. Having created this disdain, I think I have consequently become ashamed to acknowledge my re-reading habits…past, present and future. Consequently, when I have re-read, I have not blogged. When I think about it, this seems incredibly naive and foolish.
In another post I labelled myself “a re-reader by nature” and acknowledged that my battered copy of Pride and Prejudice has never been allowed to sit unread on the shelf for a whole calendar year. I wonder exactly when I decided that I must go against my character, or rather, that I must conceal it. I think that I must adjust my attitude to my reading. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that from now on I will re-read to my heart’s content and bury my library card in the garden. I am saying that from now on I will strike a happy medium. When I re-read, I will blog about it. When I read new books, I will blog about them. I guess that previously I had made some sort of unconscious distinction between ‘books’ and ‘reading’ and, somewhere along the way, I decided that blog posts must be about books. I revise this premise, from now on blog posts will not only be about books, but also about the act of reading books, both old and new.
So there you have it. I guess this goes some way to explaining the gaping holes that have hung like dropped stitches in the knitting pattern of In my good books… – I’d say it’s fairly safe for you to assume that where there are gaps in time, there was re-reading. I have re-read Pride and Prejudice at least twice since beginning In my good books…, I have re-read The Lord of the Rings trilogy, I have re-read Persuasion by Jane Austen, I have re-read the first three Harry Potter books, and probably more that I can’t recall. I think it is abundantly safe to infer that I will always re-read books. I have found true love on the pages of my favourite books and I very much hope that it will last a lifetime.
So what of The Story of English in 100 Words? I hear you cry (!). Well, I have almost finished it. Only a few lonely pages to go. I have also, as is my wont, begun simultaneously reading other books. Another reading habit which I seem to have begun in early childhood. From the days when I first started reading books by myself my mother would despair at the pile of bookmark-stuffed books beside my bed. It’s a habit I’ve tried to kick. It’s never particularly conducive to mental clarity to have several different plot-lines and, lord knows, how many characters all buzzing about your head simultaneously.
I have, however, made it my intention to read (or should that be re-read) Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women over the festive period. I first ‘read’ this book when I was a child, I say ‘read’ because it was actually read aloud to me by my Mum. I have never actually held the book in my own hands and turned the pages and I think it’s about time. So, armed with a beautifully bound Penguin classic, I intend to read its pages for myself for the first time.
I suppose this post has turned into rather an odd ramble about my reading habits. I apologise to those of you anticipating a book review. I think, in the end, this post has turned out to be more of a ‘reading review’. It seems clear to me now that this review (like most of my others!) has been long overdue.