This is a new experience for me - to have my own blog!
Hopefully it can reflect the purpose of books: words with meaning and a message.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Books Are Dirty...

Some books are dirty.  For all different reasons.  But of course I'm probably not thinking of the kind of books you are thinking of.  I'm thinking of the books that are handled often and reflect the readers opinion of the book.  I have a few dirty books.  They could be old, reread at intervals and handled by many people.  I cringe when I think of the time I asked someone not to pass my books they were borrowing onto someone else because they ended up "untidy".  I look back now and should have celebrated the fact that they were read, experienced, enjoyed and given another run.  I suppose some people want to keep their books looking brand new.  And if by any chance I make a mark on someone's book I am mortified.  At the moment I'm trying to work out what to do about the book that was left lying next to a felt tip pen that bled into the pages.  That is one I will have to replace before returning.  The books I don't want to be damaged I don't lend.  But then there are not too many people asking me for a lend of my Oxford Illustrated History of the British Monarchy.

And how about those books that you just can't put down and they end up with food on them from reading while eating breakfast/morning tea/lunch/afternoon tea/dinner/late night snack.  I think the food stains are just a reflection of your love.  The book is so enjoyable that you just can't put it down.  The dirty books that are of the greatest concern to me are those that the kids have used as coloring books.  One of my all time favourites, They're a Weird Mob by Nino Culotta has been attacked.  I have the copy that was my Granfather's and was printed in 1974.  I have read it at least 5 times and I have loaned it to others a few times.  I recently picked it up and noticed a picture decorated with orange texta.  The page is also a little ripped, the cover damaged and the pages are yellowed.  But please don't buy me a new copy.  I love it just how it is.

Another book that seems to get dirtier each day is my recipe book.  It contains the recipes that I use often or hope to use one day.  They are all favourites.  Although I do get to the point where I think "I will never make this" and rip it out and replace it with a new recipe given to me by a friend/mum or from a mag or the internet.  At this time of the year I open my recipe book to the Christmas Pudding page.  It is time to make the pudding and stay at home and watch them bubbling on the stove for hours on end (all worth the effort on Christmas Day of course).   The pages also have other often cooked recipes.

So dirty books are good.  It shows their journey and your admiration. Maybe the dirtier the book the better?  By the way, Grandma Cleary's Christmas Pudding with Stout can be found at the bottom of this blog page.  It's yummy!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Books are like Friends...

As we journey through life we meet and befriend new people.  Some of them stay with you for your whole journey from the point of meeting, others are seen less frequently as time goes by due to changing circumstances and some you just can't wait to be rid of as you realise the more you get to know them they are real "doozies".  A girl I know talked recently how she easily befriends new people accepting them at face value and allows them into her circle of friends because that is just the kind of person she is - caring, compassionate, friendly, lively, loving etc.  However, after being burnt by people who don't reciprocate the warmth and have in fact turn out to be loopy she has decided to be a bit more choosy in her future befriending efforts.  This is an excellent policy.

However, what if we don't befriend those nutters?  I believe our journey  may be less fulfilling as we aren't taught the lessons we need in finding what we are looking for. The experiences we have become warning bells when we meet someone with similar traits.  All very complicated but lessons need to be learnt.

To my main point, books are like friendships.  You need to have bad book experiences in order to teach you what you really want to read.  That's not to say you shouldn't read those other books to begin with as you will learn a lesson from them.  I have read books when I was younger that have stayed with me and set the tone for future choices.  Historic fiction is my chosen genre.  But I know that I need to read other books to grow in my understanding of books and in order to appreciate my choices.  I have read those "nutter" books that have seemed great (The Lucy Family Alphabet by Judith Lucy) at the time of reading but reflecting on the experience it was pretty awful and I won't be going there again.  Or there are the books that just seem to stay with you even though they are not a positive influence (Jessica by Bryce Courtney - I usually enjoy his books but the last scene in this still gives me nightmares over 10 years later).  And then there are the unfinished books that you can return to later, see them in a new light and want to complete the experience (like a school friendship that doesn't continue due to moving away etc. until you meet again at the shops/hospital/child's school...).  This is the kind of relationship I am having at the moment.  I started a book many years ago and gave up because it just got a bit too hard to stay with it. I have in the meantime read many of the same author's historic novels and devoured them.  I recently picked the book up again (Sarrum by Edward Rutherfurd) and LOVE it.  This book will remain in my friendship circle.  And if you haven't read an Edward Rutherfurd book, I encourage you to do so.  Finally, there are the friendships that need to be restarted with a fresh outlook or in a new environment.  This relates to a close family member who started a book and gave up as it seemed to be heading in a direction not to her liking.  With a lack of anything else to read, I picked it up and got to the same point and questioned its viability as a "good read" but decided to continue on.  Well, it turned out to be a very enjoyable read and a great experience, which has in fact started a new "friendship" with an author (the book was Tuscan Rose by Belinda Alexander).  The family member has since read the book with a fresh approach and has enjoyed it and recommended it to other friends.

Books are like friends.  Some will stay with you forever, some you will pass over quickly, some will cause you problems and some you will wish you just never met.  Learn from your experiences and look forward in your journey.  And if nothing else works, buy some new shoes (or ask your husband to do it for you).

Let me know if you have met one of those books that you wish you hadn't (keeping in mind one person's trash is another person's treasure).

PS. I write this blog in memory of Brian Cleary who was a "keeper" friend and brother to Nola. xxxx