Monday, 3 October 2011

V is for Voracious

Mostly 'his' - car manuals, engineering texts and somewhere in there several editions of The Ball Bearing Journal

Another post for the ABC meme by An Accidental Knitter.

I am a voracious reader.  A friend at university called me 'the shredder' because of the way I got through books.

I read fiction and non-fiction.  I pass on modern fiction to friends and charity shops (which is where a lot of it comes from), but find it difficult to part with non-fiction and 19th Century classics.  I'm not a huge fan of the Victorians, but they could spin a good yarn and I keep going back to them.

After we discovered that the book case on the landing was coming through the dining room ceiling due to overloading there was a major redistribution.  And there will have to be another since all the upstairs floors on that side of the house now need to come up and three more book cases will need to be cleared.  So, I'm trying to read my way through books I have had for decades so that I can let them go.

The books I will have to part with are mostly strange and obscure history books written by now discredited historians in the thirties and forties.  It's interesting to read them from the perspective of events at the time they were written.  One I read recently was about Nelson, Wellington and the Peninsular War where I learned that many details in the Sharpe books by Bernard Cornwell (Sharpe's Rifles, etc), and subsequent TV series starring Sean Bean were based in historical fact right down to those rather fetching green jackets.  This old book, written in late thirties used a lot of first hand sources and what really came across was the terrible hardship endured by the armies on all sides as they tried to move around the Peninsula in winter.

A lot of the art history will have to go as well.  The natural history books, poetry, gardening, cookery and craft books (mainly embroidery and knitting), are untouchable. They stay, floors or no floors.

In recent weeks I have been reading :

Captain Corelli's Mandolin - Louis de Bernieres
It's been published a long time now and I'd never read it or seen the film.  One of the funniest, saddest, most harrowing and poignant books I have ever read.

Boudica, Dreaming the Eagle - Manda Scott
First of a trilogy.  Somehow you know the story won't end well.  Since the written history of this period is so scant, and what exists was written by the invaders (the Romans), this is a tremendous work of the imagination and absolutely gripping.

The Virgin's Lover - Philippa Gregory
A good page turner, like all Philippa Gregory's books. 

Currently reading The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet by David Mitchell who writes so devastatingly with such a light touch.  He wrote Cloud Atlas which I read some years ago and was blown away by it.

Next up - might be A Place of Greater Safety, by Hilary Mantel.  I read Wolf Hall last year and will read it again (one of the rare occasions when I would re-read a work of modern fiction).  I watched a documentary about Hilary Mantel last week - what a fascinating writer. 

This list leans heavily towards historical novels, but I actually love thrillers and detective fiction and recently have got through a fair bit of Jeffrey Deaver.

And on the non-fiction side I am looking forward to A Gambling Man by Jenny Uglow about Charles II and the Restoration.  Jenny Uglow wrote a lovely book a few years ago called A Little History of British Gardening.

And I still do all my reading on paper.  The whole tactile experience is part of it for me.  Not sure I'll ever take to reading at great length on any form of screen.


pinkundine said...

Voracious was one of the words my boyfriend suggested for my post today ;)

Unlike you, I find it almost impossible to part with books. I have to force myself sometimes, and even then it is only the ones I'm not keen on. But then I do tend to re-read my favourites fairly often.

I love Jeffrey Deaver too :)

Anonymous said...

I, too, hate getting rid of books, but I certainly have never had a weight issue on a bookshelf like you! I am considering getting an e-reader, my mom has one and really likes it, although I also like the tactile feel of a book... great post!

lyndagrace said...

Thank you for suggestions for books that I would probably never have known about.

You have roused my curiosity and peaked my interest.

I have gotten spoiled by audio books. Mainly because I I can knit and listen.

But I do know what you mean about holding a book and turning the pages.

witchyknits4ewe said...

Wow - you are a voracious reader!!! I thought we had a lot of books but you've put us to shame! I now use a Kindle so that I no longer have them on my shelves, but on my virtual shelf. So far, so good!