Reading Choices, Book Reviews and The Unmade Bed…

It’s strange how things come back to me after all these years. Our choice of reading material over time. I awoke this morning thinking about probably the last book review that I wrote, it was for a book called “The Unmade Bed” by Françoise Sagan. I think I was 14 years old and at the time, we were expected to review books regularly at school as part of the English curriculum. I think at the time I was trying to find out more about sex since boys had begun to show an interest in me. As you can imagine, if anyone actually made a move on me properly, then I would at least want to know what was supposed to happen. I certainly wasn’t going to learn what sex was from a family who did not discuss it, other than the fact that it was not supposed to happen until you got married. I felt the need to find out what was supposed to be enjoyable when it happened. No-one seemed to want someone who knew nothing about it as a girlfriend, although they didn’t want an expert either, it must surely make sense to have a little knowledge. It wasn’t their faults entirely, as many parents assume their children will do exactly as they tell them until they are adults, less so these days but back then things were different. I guess that they do not think that as they rebelled, their children will also do so.

So, in my teenage rebellion, I often sat in the library, reading whatever I could find that might give me a clue. I hadn’t studied the sciences at school, so was not interested in anatomy, or how it all worked, more how it felt and what was supposed to happen.

Yes, “Feelings” were a big part of my life even then….

I read Mills and Boon books like any other teenage girl, but even my dad knew about them, the bodice ripping stories which could not be taken seriously, filling my head with ideas, he banned them from the house, so I used to read them at school, or sit in the library. I read quickly even to this day and so it didn’t take very long to read one of those, a lunch hour perhaps or a day’s worth of school breaks.

The last book review was different though. If I was caught reading it at home then I could quite honestly say that I had to write a book review for it. I was at the age, when we were expected to go out and find out own subject matter to read and review. I can only imagine what my tutor thought when she was faced with the review itself. It was a book that to this day, I can remember something about. In my naivety I had misunderstood the contents. I know, it should be pretty clear from the title. But I thought that it would have more detail in than it did and I felt that it was a let down. It took me twice as long to read as it hopped from character to character, I almost gave up and found another book to read, but my stubborn streak got in the way. It was of course about the sex life of the character and their escapades, it had no depth. But I felt that it lacked any excitement, it seemed almost mechanical in its writing. Part of me wishes to find the book again after all this time and re-read it to see if I gain any more enjoyment from it, but I fear that my time would be wasted and that I shouldn’t bother, so I haven’t yet. After all there is more to life than reading a boring book twice?

I recall writing in my review of my disappointment that the whole story seemed to be a catalogue of people who kept jumping in and out of bed with each other, swapping partners and all sharing the same bed. Somehow the thought of that repelled me and I found myself wondering if the sheets ever got changed. (Ever the practical thinking) I don’t think my review encouraged anyone else to read the pristine old book which sat on the library shelf and I doubt my teacher clamoured to the local library or bookshop to borrow or peruse.

So that was it… Did I need to write another review? I’d quite like to because it will give me the opportunity to read books again with purpose. I have read to learn things, but not so much for the enjoyment of a story, I miss that to enjoy the thoughts and processes which go through other writer’s heads. I love reading, I get totally consumed by whatever the subject is whilst I read a book, to the exclusion of everything around me. I cannot put a book down easily mid-read. I prefer to read it cover to cover so I am careful of the subject matter and as a consequence do not read nearly enough. I was sad to find myself saying a few years ago that I had not read a book in years, yes it had actually been about 5 years at that point, I had not had the time to myself to enable me to do that and resolved to try and change that. I have read more since then and take time to read mainly online. I love that about WordPress since it encourages me to look around and doesn’t take up the time that a book would and you still learn, read and see interesting things I also feel that it is still a luxury to be able to sit and read a book or article without interruption, one that I can’t always allow myself.

The Daily Post – Depth

The Library

IMG_2849A trip out to the Library was where it all began.
Imagination fired once more, mind running off again.
I looked at rows of books and piled some on the floor.
Hoped for peace and quiet, from ladies starting to jaw.
But I sat there and persisted, blocking out all other noise.
Although futile I resisted, children playing with the toys.
Wrapped up in a book or two, whilst they began to play.
There’s still a story to get lost, and while away the day.
Old books have been “Withdrawn” and are on sale by the door,
Pick a book not knowing, what it has in store.
Whether factual or a thriller, there’s so much there to choose.
A lover or a killer at only 20p, what have you got to lose?
Carpets torn and tattered, bookshelves empty and bare.
It’s hard to get excited, when there’s hardly any there.
But as you search among them and seize upon your choice,
You’ve finally seen one which matches your own voice.
There seems to be a moment, in which you dare to hope.
That when finding inspiration, there is always scope.
Take a moment get stuck in, spirited far away,
To other places far and wide, in corners of your day.
And as you are transported, off to another world,
You think of tales and they as they became unfurled.
What people are in there and their stories to be told,
Fact or fiction in this space, you’ll surely find pure gold.

This was inspired by my research trip to the library the other day. See In the name of Research, The Library and Books of Poetry  Photos: Morguefile.com

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In the name of Research, The Library and Books of Poetry

So since Today was a pretty grey day and I had some errands to run, I found myself walking past where I used to work years ago to visit the very unassuming library to do a bit of actual research, I was in a nearby town close to the family home.

Two things happened today, I ventured out to do stuff and in doing so, I put on a smart shirt, some perfume and some heels along with my jeans and a leather jacket, did hair and make up and felt like I had returned to the land of the living for the day. I refused to let the debilitating headache which has plagued for a week get the best of me today and now that the shakes have stopped (almost) I decided to get things done…

So having not got any answers as to how many poems in a book is a good idea. I thought I would flick through the shelves and look at the children and adult poetry sections there for inspiration or to at least figure that bit out.

I located one of the librarians who gave me directions to the bottom shelf, where I was faced with the grand sum of less than 2ft of one shelf with poetry books.  Hmm, I thought nervously, (and more than a little hopefully) maybe poetry is such a great thing that all the books are out.  Alas no, this was all they had, I hoped that my choice of genre was not a bad one after all.  That is not really going to light up my life is it, about 20 books!  Dismayed I sat cross legged on the floor, I opened the first book, the rough carpet under me since there was no sign of a comfy chair on which to sit and I was not going to be emptying the meagre shelf just for a look. I hoped that no-one would tread on me in their stampede on their way past to the craft afternoon which was just about to start and rather wished I had made the journey to the other old library, where I used to go as a child after all. Now that was all that you want a library to be. It was beautiful old building with solid wooden panels and shelves and you could lose several hours there with a good book looking out over some lovely gardens. Or perhaps the one in the nearest town to me, which is huge and has regular exhibitions and lots of seating.  But there I was for a a short time transported back to a world which reminded me that I love reading and if the floor is the only place to sit, it really didn’t matter.

I picked up the first book, which was a collection of the poetry that used to be on the underground. I was quite surprised that the book was over 300 pages deep, but then had large widely spaced text, small poems, one to a page or more and lots of chapter pages too, so a lot of that was information and credits.  There were over 100 poems though.  So if I am going to follow that route then I will need to write a few more and include all the ones I have already written.  

I picked up another book, of Love poems the contents slightly less at just under 200 pages, with about 20 of them being allocated to indexing and notes.

I found a few which only had 30-40 poems in them and some of them were also very short so it seems that there is a whole host of ways to go.

The things I noticed from my little bit of research about this is;

All the books listed the poems, in the index by the first line of the poem. 

Only some of them listed the poems by name.

They were not split into subject matter.

They were randomly included in each book.

Most had less than 180 pages including the indexes and afterward.

Almost anything goes…

So it seems that although there are no hard and fast rules about which way to go, for any of you who like me, are on the route to your first book of poetry, I hope this little list helps you out.

What struck me though was the bizarre mixture of poetry which jumped off the page and stuck in my head as I left there.  Little Red Riding Hood and the Wolf by Roald Dahl, Still I Rise, by Maya Angelou and The Tyger by William Blake, all so vastly different.

I may have to visit the other libraries anyway all in the name of research of course! to see what else I can find out. I feel my research is incomplete, plus it will give me the opportunity to read a few more books and see what exhibitions are happening locally. Now who could pass up an opportunity like that.  Plus, I enjoy the silence with which to read, it makes the memories last so much longer without distractions. The silence was definitely missing in today’s library, there was noise and bustle and things going on, along with a loud conversation between the librarians about recycling and composting bags and how many of them they are selling at the moment.  Perhaps I am recalling times gone by, a flashback to the past, when libraries were a place for peace and quiet.  Perhaps it was that this was a small community library that they were holding events in the midst of it, so should I be seeking that serenity elsewhere?