Tag Archives: books

Too Much Unwanted Information

Almost to the point of exasperation I tried last night to find something worth watching, in my estimation ,on television. Every once in a while I just like to chill out and watch something interesting.  My taste in programming is more along the lines of history, literature, music, art, theatre, cooking ,science and comedy. Enjoyable to me are programs that teach me something, remind me of something important ,encourage me to dream and enjoy a fantasy, make me laugh and sometimes make me cry. Anything with a nice dog in the plot and I’m quite happy.

Instead of getting a steady fare of programming that appeals to me the offerings are a huge boatload of violent, shallow, absurd and dysfunctional stupidity. To be fair I don’t think it has been too much different in the past. I was just too busy, polite and wet behind the ears to notice.

 With all the talent, skill and creativity out there in television land one would assume there would be more quality programs. It is provoking enough to inspire this opinion piece and oddly enough, I’m the last one usually to rant. Can you tell that I am approaching my sixtieth birthday?

Books have been my go to entertainment when the television blinks rubbish. Sometimes the books are not what they seem but at least they give my intelligence the benefit of an exercise. The joy of reading something worthwhile relaxes and inspires. In my own mind, I can stage the setting and characters to suit the plot and decide if I will see it through to the conclusion, or not.

Of course, there are always films. Don’t start me up on films.

Documentaries, I like.

Sorry ,I’m Canadian and getting older.

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Soup on a Pedestal?

At first, I thought I must have entered the wrong store absent mindedly, revelling in my new found freedom from intensive dog sitting. Looking around and beyond, I saw books on display but in my immediate space, entering the bookstore I was treated to a whole section of cozy grey wool blankets, tea making things, candles, table linens, dinnerware, yoga mats and baby gifts. Bookends, word games, giftwrap and you name it engulfed the side aisle of the store.

 Near the back of this long line of lovely things I found a display of children’s books that led in fact to a whole section of children’s games, toys and oh yes, some more children’s books.

Making a quick but thoughtful purchase of some children’s books for a family gift I made a dash out the door to avoid spending anymore money on stuff I most likely didn’t need. I was tempted but I overcame the impulse.

They didn’t really want me to buy books in that store. They wanted me to buy the illusion of the book reading lifestyle. Rare teas, rich chocolates, soft woolen throws and earthy looking pottery soup bowls on pedestals demanded my attention and my cash.

A  book lover all of my life, I keep warm while reading in woolen blankets crocheted by my sister, drink my tea out of mugs collected from garage sales ,enjoy the scent of finally using ancient candles stored for years in case of a power outage and eat my homemade  soup out of small tempered glass pot that can either be heated on the stove, oven or glory be, the microwave.

I used to go into the store to just look around at the books and breathe the bookish dusty atmosphere. I didn’t mind the scent of coffee brewing along the café side of the store. In fact I found it often a temptation I couldn’t ignore. Also appreciated were the many interesting chairs and tables around the very large store encouraging the buyer to stay awhile, read and then decide about a book purchase or not. Phased out a couple of years ago, the music section was another favourite spot of mine. Replacing the jazz, blues, folk and classical vibe are displays of electronic media stuff. Oh well. I can maybe find a music store before they are totally replaced by on line sources.

Needless to say, I felt overwhelmed and out of the loop, yet again. My idea of a bookstore keeps being made over and updated while I hang onto a dream place of quiet shelves, stocked with real books. The kind of store that the second hand type of bookstores have become. A little cramped, a little dusty, rather quaint but filled with choices and treasures of the literary kind.

I’ll go back. I always do. I know the books are in there…. somewhere.

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Talking Books

Thick with dust, the two very old military history books were stored on a neglected shelf in a damp glassed in veranda in the farmhouse. Not the most interesting looking, they were somehow saved in a box and moved to storage. Condition ranging from musty, torn cover to musty and fair shape, the two books didn’t attract any attention at a family garage sale. Next stop was going to be the charity store or the recycling bin. However, the books seemed to speak to me as I drove home with my other more practical treasures from the sale. The chatter was enough for me to call back for the books and they were given to me, free of charge. Family garage sales are excellent for such bargains!

Plans for the two old books are of a decorative nature. They will be displayed together on a fireplace mantel or coffee table along with other battered, ancient books  . The books evoke a kind of dignity to me that is difficult to express but easy to feel. Oddly enough, I found myself reading them well into the night not minding the mustiness or faded pages. They will open again in due time anytime a guest notices them and maybe someday be used as reference material for a story or two. That is the beauty and value of these books that somehow seemed to speak to me. Listening seems to come naturally.

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Book Weather

Two small notebooks are ready to be filled with titles, names and notes about interesting books I hear about and then try to find either through second hand book stores, regular bookstores and the library. I don’t use the ” big river” to get my books, you know the one. I think that is just too much of a modern thing for me to do so I am content with my tried and sometimes effective method of finding these books and authors. There are so many choices that I am usually satisfied with what I get .

Sometimes there is a dry spell or a lull between finding a really good book and I feel at loose ends without something to hold my interest. It isn’t usually for long. There are two full bookcases of my own collection to satisfy any period of being temporarily lost for a good book. Often during these lulls I hit the cookbook bookcase in another part of the house and usually find hours of good reading there. I often would rather read vintage cookbooks than anything else.

Then, of course there are my really old books kept on their own shelves in another bookcase in my bedroom way out of reach of any curious pets such as the book destroying bulldog I am babysitting at the moment. My collector books would also be good for entertainment during a month full of blizzards if that ever should occur and I can’t get my fresh supply of literature from my usual sources.

When my young neighbour comes in to visit she always asks me if I really do read all of the books that I have and I tell her the truth. Some I haven’t read yet but they are just waiting like emergency supplies for the right time to be read. Some of the books I have read several times. Some of the books I read every year as a seasonal ritual.

None of my books are the trendy fresh ones as they don’t appeal to me when they are all hyped up and popular in the media. I may be drawn to them later when I find them in a discount barrel at a bookstore or at a garage sale and I will take them home then to read, or leave propped on a shelf for a rainy day.

I don’t always finish reading a book if it doesn’t appeal to me because life is just too short to be bored or put off by a book when there are so many good books somewhere to be found and treasured. Ruthless, I toss an unappealing book and pick up another hoping for the best. Whether I read it or not is my call.

It is a good thing that I’m not a book reviewer, a bookstore owner or a librarian because I would be too hard on the material and probably ruffle feathers. However, the ones that I like would be praised to the hilt and I would use my powers of persuasion to encourage others to try them. It just wouldn’t be fair though. I will leave that for the more courageous and outspoken individuals who make these reviews and judgements in good conscience. ( I bet that ruffles a few feathers right there.)

My taste in books is based on how I was raised, my life experiences and my education but thank goodness I am open to suggestions and willing to take a look at something different, obscure, vintage or even contemporary. It usually depends on the weather, like a twinge at the prospect of change.

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A Spell In Maycomb County

Scoring a ticket from a neighbour with an extra one to share I was included in an evening of community theatre at The Palace, London, Canada. The production was To Kill a Mockingbird. The large refurbished old theatre was packed and the ages were varied. Everyone there already some knowledge of the story or was prepared by their companions for a very special evening.

Recently rereading the book by Harper Lee, I considered myself something of an expert on how the story should be interpreted. The production was well done and performances rang true. So much of this wonderful book in a stage presentation has be reinterpreted, shortened and adapted. To capture the essence of the story is quite a challenge.

There is so much to learn from looking back and trying to sort out what  circumstances, instinct and wisdom play in our lives. I appreciate that this production renewed  interest in a fine story. At different times of our life, from childhood to maturity such lessons need review.

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