Book Meme

I found this meme while rooting around the archives of The Hidden Side of a Leaf -a blog I stumbled on because I liked the blog title. I was sort of hoping it would be a photoblog, but was nevertheless pleassantly surprised to find that it was a book-blog.

I have not written a post for a while, especially not one about books. Partially, this is because I have not been reading as much as I would like to. Partially, this is because I feel like I should review ‘Growing Up Asian in Australia’, but I do not think I am capable of it. No distance, you see.

So, a meme to jolt me along.

The breakfast table read:

On weekday mornings, I am invariably running late. I sometimes lackadaisacally flick through the various magazines we get delivered to our home – The Economist for news and then all the magazines that go with all our memberships: hiking magazines, human rights magazines, history magazines, wildlife magazines. I just look at the pictures. Sometimes, especially in the Economist, I stare at the advertisements, trying to understand what it is that they are appealing to. Usually, there is a picture of an actor posed somewhere luxurious – the colours and background are muted and neutral, but the actor is in sharp focus, doing something iconically that actor-ish. I cast around and around the advertisement looking for the luxury item I am being sold – sometimes it is a chain of hotels, sometimes, an airline, sometimes luggage. All the advertisements look the same, and I cannot imagine myself wanting to stay in that hotel, or use that airline, or carry that kind of luggage.

On weekend mornings, I read the backlog of magazines with slightly more attention, although of late, my news-reading has been marginal, at best. I fear I am turning into an old lady: I go for the book and movie reviews, then cooking, then gardening. My news, I now read online throughout the week, through an RSS feed, through blogs.

The to-go read:

I like to have a paperback with me wherever I go. It has to be light and thin, but it does not have to be light-weight reading. At the moment, my to-go read is Twilight of Love: Travels with Turgenev by Robert Dessaix.

My to-go reads often don’t get read when I am on the go. I have excessive ambitions about what I can read when I am on the go. Thus, Twilight of Love was my to-go read sometime last year: I picked it up, threw it into my bag but somehow it ended back on the shelf. It was quite exciting to pick it up again and discover a postcard slotted in there as book mark – a postcard from Winchester, one of our first UK tourist visits.

The bathroom read:

When I (or someone more pragmatically minded and ingenious than me) finally invent(s) my magic book protector-cum-page-turner, I will read in the bathroom. Otherwise, I will not.

The read-aloud:

Occassionally, I read poetry aloud, to myself. Poetry is meant to be read aloud.

My current book of poetry is by Bryan Thao Worra. In quiet moments, I pick up my copy of The Other Side of the Eye, which has been inscribed in the front by Bryan (thank you, Bryan, for your lovely note) and read a piece, firstly to myself, and, if no one is around, aloud. I try to mimic how it would be presented, guessed from photos of Bryan: his gestures and the shape of his mouth. I wish I could see him read his own poetry, in person.

The main read:

My main reads change. I have a lot of main reads at the same time. They change and they accumulate. I will have a main read, and then get a to-go read, which becomes a must-finish read, thereby converting it into one of the main reads.

The most recent was The Golden Gate by Vikram Seth, a man who is much, much too clever. The Golden Gate is a novel in iambic tetrameter. Now, really, Mr Seth, must you? It is excellent, and funny, and sad. And even his autobiographical note is in iambic tetrameter. And chuckle-worthy.

The work read:

I read all the time at work: letters, cases, articles, pleadings, journals.

I often get aggravated by the things I read at work, for a variety of reasons: because I disagree with it; because the writer has confused effect and affect (argh!); because it is poorly written; because the author is someone who makes me sigh in frustration. So many reasons.

My recent aggravation came from a facsimile, the gist of which was, “We’re just writing to let you know we represent the guy on the other side, ‘kay?” What was aggravating about that? It was headed URGENT FACSIMILE TRANSMISSION. No, that communication is not. Reception telephoned me, rather than dropping the fax into my pigeon-hole for me to pick up at my leisure as would usually occur, to tell me I had an Urgent Fax. Naturally, I stopped doing what I was doing and traipsed over to Reception to collect the Urgent Fax, only to read its complete mundanity. Stupid people. Learn to prioritise and look the word ‘urgent’ up in the dictionary. I am tempted, but not rude enough (and I have other things to do), to fax back a letter with the heading FOR THE IMMEDIATE ATTENTION OF: and a photocopy of the relevant page in The Oxford English Dictionary. Churlish, yes. Unjustified? No.

The travel read:

I like to have a mix-up for my travel reads: I like a collection of short stories, a non-fiction and one or five novels (depending on length of travel and activity/ies to be engaged in). Sometimes, one of my novels will be a children’s story or (gulp) romantic fiction by Katie Fforde. Ms Fforde is fantastic for long-haul flights and my (no-longer) secret, guilty, pleasure read.

My current collection of short stories is The World and Other Places by Jeanette Winterson. My current non-fiction is Wanderlust: The History of Walking by Rebecca Solnit (although I have to admit to such a long pause in reading it, that it almost qualifies as ceasing to read it altogether, except that, in my head, I’m still reading it) and Flights of Fancy by Peter Tate, which sort of also belongs in the short stories collection because each chapter is on one bird, and I feel I can read chapters in whichever order, at my leisure.

New category – the audiobook:

I don’t get along with audiobooks.

I tried when I first started driving a car, and was reading less because I was spending less time on public transport. It did not feel right, and the voices annoyed me. Plus, I found my mind wandering.

I tried again recently when I was really, really ill for a week at the end of winter, beginning of spring. I listened to old-school mysteries because I was too sick to read. I’m not sure I’d do it again, though.

*****

Do you like this meme? Do you want to do it? Go right ahead. And let me know in my comments.

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