Turning an intriguing book over in my hands to explore the back of the dust jacket, feeling the weight of it as I balance it on my palms, turning the pages and inhaling the faint odour of the ink and paper, then flipping at random to read a fragment and letting the words crash into my mind and encountering how they sit there and what ripples of thought they cause.
Reading can be an intensely physical experience, both in terms of the emotion conjured by the subject matter (I wrote a whole MA thesis on this subject) and simply in the experience of the physical object that is the book. The latter is one we tend to take for granted, or at least I certainly do. I have been taking time to tune into the physical experience of being in my quiet time over Christmas and am finding it very restorative.
There is something wonderful about the opportunity to immerse myself in a physical experience of discovering new sources of inspiration and information. I do it less and less now as a result of shortness of time and the ease of finding books and music (my main go to sources of inspiration) that I already have some idea I want via the internet. I did the former yesterday, I found myself in Skylark – a wonderful little stall in the Needlemakers in Lewes that sells a fascinatingly curated selection of books. I also had an ambling roam through the music in our local music store, Octave*. It was so lovely to look without any particular intention, just to be open to exploring.
[*As an aside: the first review posted on the link I’ve posted to Octave (the music shop) is hilarious. Have a quick read if you have a moment 🙂 ]
I found three books that I was completely unaware of and would be fascinated either to read or to give to the right person in my life (that would be someone different for each book as gift giving is ideally a deeply thoughtful thing). I love the idea of gifts being a tangible characterisation of something about the relationship between the involved parties – expressing something of me and something of how I understand the recipient.
I love the idea of championing reading aloud and if I had children I’d have bought this book already. When I do have children I will definitely read aloud to them. Maybe I can borrow some children to read to in the meantime? Or at least give this book as a gift to someone with the instruction they read it aloud to their children. Or even choose a book I love and give it to someone with an instruction they read it to their children. See what I mean about wanting gift giving to be something of me and something of the other person?
How England Made the English
This sounds fascinating and I have a person dear to me in mind who may well love this book, it’s concept being the way a physical environment has created the way we English are. That does assume that the book is well and entertainingly written, which is something I cannot judge not having read it.
This is the one that really calls to me on a personal level based on the description on the cover. I’ve never before encountered John Williams or this book, but I have a fascination with the exploration of the beauty in the ordinary or superficially unremarkable moments of life. In fact, I very much want to read this but cannot justify spending the money on a brand new book right now. It will go on the list of things to read and if I’m lucky I’ll remember it at some point when I feel able to justify buying it for myself. Isn’t the serendipity of stumbling upon sources of inspiration at the right time part of the joy of the exploration?