Today in The Guardian I read this excellent synopsis of a lecture recently given by the author Neil Gaiman “Why our future depends on libraries, reading and daydreaming.”
Everyone should read it.
I am the proud owner of not one, but five Kindles (I think — I’ve lost count). I have bought every version since they first arrived at Amazon. My Kindle has over 150 books (I think — I’ve also lost count). Reading is an integral part of my life. I literally cannot remember a night that I haven’t read before sleep. It would be unthinkable. I experience a mild sense of panic as a good book ends, if I realize I don’t have something perfect queued up.
More recently, I’ve been listening to Audible.com audio books too — a far more palatable way to re-visit the classics. As Mr Gaiman says, you can ‘kill’ a child’s love of books by pressing ‘the classics’ on them. They’ll hate them. Unless they are truly unusual.
So when someone begs you read Austen or Thomas Hardy, be cautious. Wonderful though they are, they can be indigestible to readers who aren’t quite as classics-fit as they once were, when their minds were supple at college or high school. (If indeed they even were back then.)
Listening to them read well is, however, a joy. This past week, I listened to A Passage to India by EM Forster, read by Sam Dastor. Mr Dastor separated the voices beautifully, though I did find the voice of Miss Quested a little grating. Listening to the book again reminded me of the confused and mixed up relationships between India and Britain, and the utter arrogance and stupidity of the Anglo-Indian communities. Beautifully and gently written. I fell in love with Dr Aziz all over again.
Now I’m well into remembering the courage and sadness of the beautiful Tess in Tess of the D’Urbervilles, and read by Simon Vance, who does a pretty decent west country lilt.
Listening to books while you’re walking, exercising, or just doing boring housework is a gift indeed.
Reading is a luxury that everyone should have access to. Reading is like dreaming. It allows our minds to go on journeys to places our bodies are unable to go. So with that in mind, here are few more dreams I’ve read since Christmas that I really enjoyed:
- The Sea John Banville
- The Lowland, Jhumpa Lahiri
- The Signature of All Things, Elizabeth Gilbert
- Moab is my Washpot, and The Fry Chronicles, Stephen Fry (yes, late to the game on these)
- The Ocean at the End of the Lane, Neil Gaiman
- The Cider House Rules, John Irving
- Life After Life: A Novel, Kate Atkinson
Keep on reading!