I have done very little reading over the past few months, and even less writing, because, well, life. That and the library still being closed. Fortunately things appear to be taking a turn for the better and I have discovered a little community library I’ve been borrowing books from. It’s little more than an oversized cupboard in a green space aptly named Old Library Wood. A bit of research suggests that its presence is part of an ongoing effort to make the area a safer and more pleasant space for local residents. Of course books should be part of that. Books are always a good idea.
Never mind the pubs reopening, I thought as I was watching the news. It’s the library I’m excited about. As expected the experience wasn’t quite what it used to be. With face masks, a one way system and a limited assortment of books available things didn’t feel like they’d gone back to normal. But I’ve stumbled upon a real gem. I always love it when that happens.
I don’t know if it’s typical for Norwich, but the people here tend to leave items they no longer need… Read more Lost and Found: On Reading Books from the Street
Picture this. A novella about two sisters: Sis and Amy. One of them alive, one of them dead. The living one muscular and feisty. The dead one reincarnated… as a chainsaw. Together they set off to get their revenge on Amy’s killers. Cue rampage, gore, mayhem. And, in case you missed it, a talking chainsaw.
With the library still closed I continue to read whatever books people throw at me. This week I’ve swapped my usual fiction for a true story: Hallie Rubenhold’s The Five. Its subtitle – The Untold Lives of the Women Killed by Jack the Ripper – tells one exactly what to expect: a story that has been told many times before and yet hasn’t. As Rubenhold rightly points out, the Ripper’s victims are often solely defined through their brief and fatal relation to their still unidentified killer. The Five aims to set this inaccuracy right and tell the untold stories of the victims’ lives rather than their deaths.
With an ongoing lockdown, and libraries shut until further notice, my book supply had all but dried up as of last week. For someone who always carries something to read and only sleeps soundly with a healthy to-read-stack waiting for her in the morning, this was a problem. I suffered withdrawal symptoms, albeit non-physical ones, and longed more for the escapism good books provide than ever before.
With the world still in peril and the library still shut, I’ve recently found myself reconsidering my own book shelves. I only own a handful of books, mostly because my voracious reading habit would otherwise become rather space-consuming and expensive, and I rarely reread books anyway. But since I don’t like to read from screens, which means ebooks are out, and no imminent end to the current lockdown seems likely, it looks like I’ll need to reconsider my principles.
On day two of an almost complete lockdown, with nothing to do and nowhere to go apart from my NHS job, I’m feeling a need to write about literary escapism. My local library shut down indefinitely last Saturday, and although I’ve managed to get a stash of books that’ll last me a few weeks, I’m already missing my trips to pick up new ones. It’s all temporary, of course, and all for a good cause, but I’m probably not the only one for whom life feels rather odd and claustrophobic at the moment.
It’s always a joy to discover new authors. In my case there’s barely a method to the madness. When I stumbled upon Vasily Grossman’s An Armenian Sketchbook in my library’s travel section I borrowed the book for no other reason than liking to read about places I know next to nothing about. Little did I know.
If we consider ourselves as beings that are part of nature, protecting wildlife and combating climate change becomes more than something that “has to be done”. It becomes an act of self-preservation. Or, how an evening with nature writer Mark Cocker provoked some surprisingly deep thoughts.