Tell me what you’re reading?

23 02 2009

Reading this partly as research for my end of term piece.

The Trick is to Keep Breathing by Janice Galloway.

Janice Galloway is one of the few Scottish writers who truly captures what it feels like to be a working class woman. I will finish this book tonight and to be honest I’ve had to reluctantly put it down a few times already, lest I devour it all at once.

The narrator gives an unnervingly honest account of her inabilty to manage her life as it disintegrates around her. This really sturck a chord with my own circumstances a year or so ago. I’m rooting for her now to recover, as I did.

There is a wonderful feeling of familiarity in the setting too. A book that describes the characters and scenery of my own place in the world.

Though I love the escapism of reading about ancient Egypt or uptown New York, current UK fiction often seems to miss out “my” view of the world.

Decent female writing, is so often either set in London (which may as well be a world away) and/or written to a middle class audience.

Male UK writers seem to have more freedom to explore the sense of place and class, but few, if any, capture womanhood, in a way I can relate to.

But Janice…

…she’s got the lot.

I’ve a feeling I’ll be treating myself to just a wee bit more “research material”.

But once her books are all read, then what?

Suggestions anyone?

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Books

10 02 2008

I was one of the fortunate ones in my street. Our house was full of books. I think this was the fault of my maternal Grandmother. Her house was not full of books. In fact the only book I ever remember seeing there was the Holy Bible. But I believe she may have been the first generation of her Irish Catholic family who had the luxury of free full education. The first generation from where she came from in County Cork to fully read and write. And she raised my mother to have a reverence for books and for the education possessed within them. Books=education=escape from poverty.

Without much money growing up mum spent a lot of time in the library. Of the books she acquired early in life I would guess many were either secondhand or much longed for gifts. When she met my father they discovered a shared love of Science Fiction. I can vividly remember our family bookcase at home. Full of the bright yellow spines of the genre. I can’t recall the name of the publisher. Authors like Asimov and Arthur C Clarke.

I remember too the characters on the spines of books bought for me as a child. The ladybird and later the penguin. Our family motto still looming large. Books=education=escape from poverty.

It wasn’t until I was much older that I began to realise that there are many homes where books are not treasured. A lone dictionary perhaps, or an extravagant leather bound set “for show”. Never read. In wealthy peoples homes too. It still perplexes me.

Now that I am grown and have children of my own, my own love of books is still strong. When I met and married my husband we reluctantly culled our collection for want of space. It was a torturous process, trying to decide which we could part with. Shipped off to the charity shop. In the end though we parted with many we still had to build more shelves to accommodate this shared love of reading. And I’m proud that my own children are carrying this torch, each of them, a corner of their bedroom devoted to the shrine of the written word.

My favourite friends all have large bookcases. Many joyful, wine filled nights discussing plots and characters and turns of phrase. Friendships bonded as tightly as the paper bound tomes we enjoy. Books swapped, borrowed and lent out again and again.

My bookcase holds more than just a history of what I have read. In a very personal way it is as much a history of who I am.





Books that were important to me and why

8 02 2007

I was one of the fortunate ones in my street. Our house was full of books. I think this was the fault of my maternal Grandmother. Her house was not full of books. In fact the only book I ever remember seeing there was the Holy Bible. But I believe she may have been the first generation of her Irish Catholic family who had the luxury of free full education. The first generation from where she came from in County Cork to fully read and write. And she raised my mother to have a reverence for books and for the education possessed within them. Books=education=escape from poverty.

Without much money growing up mum spent a lot of time in the library. Of the books she acquired early in life I would guess many were either secondhand or much longed for gifts. When she met my father they discovered a shared love of Science Fiction. I can vividly remember our family bookcase at home. Full of the bright yellow spines of the genre. I can’t recall the name of the publisher. Authors like Asimov and Arthur C Clarke.

I remember too the characters on the spines of books bought for me as a child. The ladybird and later the penguin. Our family motto still looming large. Books=education=escape from poverty.

It wasn’t until I was much older that I began to realise that there are many homes where books are not treasured. A lone dictionary perhaps, or an extravagant leather bound set “for show”. Never read. In wealthy peoples homes too. It still perplexes me.

Now that I am grown and have children of my own, my own love of books is still strong. When I met and married my husband we reluctantly culled our collection for want of space. It was a torturous process, trying to decide which we could part with. Shipped off to the charity shop. In the end though we parted with many we still had to build more shelves to accommodate this shared love of reading. And I’m proud that my own children are carrying this torch, each of them, a corner of their bedroom devoted to the shrine of the written word.

My favourite friends all have large bookcases. Many joyful, wine filled nights discussing plots and characters and turns of phrase. Friendships bonded as tightly as the paper bound tomes we enjoy. Books swapped, borrowed and lent out again and again.

My bookcase holds more than just a history of what I have read. In a very personal way it is as much a history of who I am.

430 words

Jenny Love

February 2007

This is in answer to an exercise where we were asked to reflect on our experience of books as a child. Did we have a favourite author or was there a specific book that inspires us?

I couldn’t think of an author or a lone book. My first thought was, “it’s too difficult. It would be like being asked which of my children do I love best.”

But books were nonetheless a hugely formative part of my childhood as I hope I have conveyed in this piece.