distracted by details

Sometimes it seems that my work involves so much talking and so many emails that I run out of words and need to top up the supply by reading. At such times I revert to my childhood habit of reading indiscriminately and almost compulsively.

My tastes in fiction are fairly catholic and it’s definitely a question of quantity not quality for these binges: I don’t really care what the genre is, I just want words and more words.
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comfort reading

Somewhere in a lock-up unit in Spain, in a box surrounded by other boxes filled with books, is my copy of The Little White Horse by Elizabeth Goudge.

It’s a simple, moral story of love and truth, where faith and magic work together to set the world to rights; It’s also one of the books I turn to when I’m in need of comfort. (At least it was before I had to leave it in storage and it will be again, I am sure.)
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Easter gifts

Book: Oscar Wilde Fairy Tales

It’s Easter and I’ve realised that I don’t remember any of the Easter eggs I was given as a child, though I’m fairly sure there must have been some and I’m sure I was quite excited about them at the time.

Later on, I may have been given chocolates, flowers or other gifts by friends and lovers; no doubt they put a dutiful amount of thought into the choosing and the giving.

Perhaps I even gave presents to other people. If I did, though, I don’t remember.

In fact, from all the Easter gifts given and received during more than fifty years, I only remember one – the book in the picture.

The dedication inside shows just how long ago I was given it:

Book dedication: Easter 1967

Half a century from now, how many people will reach for their e-reader and bring up a digital file that will have the power to connect them to the past in the way this book connects me?

notes for a love story

Flyleaf dedication: to Grace with love from Arthur

In recent years, I’ve tended to do most of my reading while waiting in queues or while travelling. So far, I remain unconvinced by electronic ‘reading devices’, although having the complete works of Shakespeare on my phone does provide useful ‘comfort reading’ when waiting in the bank.

When flying, though, there’s altogether too much time when electronic devices have to be switched off; after all, if I can’t read during take off and landing, how am I supposed to distract myself? So I often read second-hand paperbacks that can simply be abandoned when finished.
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‘genderally’ speaking

I mentioned two survey questions last week, which asked about reasons for reading and reasons for writing poetry. At the time, I didn’t say who was carrying out the survey, as I wasn’t sure it was relevant. But what is a survey without results? And now the results have been published, and they raise further points for discussion.

So I’d better go ahead and say that the survey was sent out by Mslexia, which is published with the tagline “the magazine for women who write”.
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quibbles & niggles

Having picked up Pride and Prejudice to look up Bingley’s comments on accomplishments the other day, I decided to re-read the whole book.

Along with Kipling’s Kim, it’s one of my ‘comfort books’; this time, however, I wasn’t reading it while ill in bed, so perhaps I was more critical. Certainly it struck me that it would be hard to cite Austen as a role model for good writing.
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a ‘fuller’ understanding

I have finally had time to read the copy of the TLS that I bought over a month ago. There’s a piece entitled The brick-wall moment – What is poetry about? And other puzzles, which appears in a section labelled ‘Commentary’.

I’m not sure I’d have read it with quite the same attitude if I’d realised it was an edited extract from a book, but it was a lot more interesting than the formal review in the Independent of Who is Ozymandias? And other puzzles in poetry by John Fuller.
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