I’ve only been posting one article a week for the last couple of weeks. I seem to have taken on some lengthy books and it’s taking me a while to get through them. Also, I’ve written a couple of reviews of books which are embargoed until next month – which suits me quite well as I’ll be going away for a short break and I can set the reviews to auto-publish while I’m away.
I was asked how I manage to get through so many books, with the obvious follow up question, “Do you really read them? Or do you just skim them?”.
I was pleased to be able to say that yes, I read every book I review from cover to cover, and probably every word in them. I am a very fast reader and I think this is partly because I’ve been reading huge amounts of stuff since being 11 years old when I had a lengthy commute on the train in order to get to school. I then went to work in London which was an even longer commute, and then later, I took on a job on the South Coast of England which still required many journeys to London which took over one and a half hours each way. What do you do on a train other than read? (the answer today is of course lots of things related to tablets and mobile phones).
About 15 years ago I went on a two day speed reading course, but I was already a fast reader and I don’t think it added much to my reading speed. I think you’d find that most people who run book review sites read books very quickly – some seem to publish more article than I do and I know they read the books properly – and often write longer articles than I do too.
Some time ago I took this photograph of a local Parish Church. It’s an unusual church because of the round tower – there are only three churches with round towers in Sussex and not a great number elsewhere (see Wikipedia article).
I shared the photograph on a photo-sharing website and earlier this year I was approached by a writer, James Trollope, who wanted to use it in a book he was publishing on the Sussex wood-cut artist Eric Slater. Apparently Eric Slater produced a woodcut print of this scene and my photograph would be useful to illustrate the location.
The book is being launched today at the Towner Gallery, Eastbourne and James Trollope is giving a talk on Eric Slater and his work. I intend to go along to hear the talk and pick up a copy of the book.
A short time ago I wrote a review of Balzac’s Omelette, by Anka Muhlstein – a fascinating journey through the restaurants and cafés of 18th century Paris and a glimpse into the private life of the great man. Anka has now kindly sent me a copy of another book she wrote – Monsieur Proust’s Library which looks equally interesting. The publisher’s website says this about it;
“Reading was so important to Marcel Proust that it sometimes seems he was unable to create a personage without a book in hand. Everybody in his work reads: servants and masters, children and parents, artists and physicians. The more sophisticated characters find it natural to speak in quotations. Proust made literary taste a means of defining personalities and gave literature an actual role to play in his novels.
“In this wonderfully entertaining book, scholar and biographer Anka Muhlstein, the author of Balzac’s Omelette, draws out these themes in Proust’s work and life, thus providing not only a friendly introduction to the momentous In Search of Lost Time, but also exciting highlights of some of the finest work in French literature”.
I’ve had the seven volumes of Proust’s Remembrance of Things Past on my shelf for about 20 years now and am ashamed to say that I’m still only about half way through them. But the world of Proust was an intriguing place to be and like so many great writers, its sometimes just as interesting to read about them as to read their work. So I look forward to spending some time in Anka’s book and will write a full article on it in a month or so.
It’s taken a long time for the weather to pull away from the long winter we’ve had. March was the coldest since 1962, Easter was the coldest ever, the first two weeks of April were no better. At last there are signs of sun but we are still languishing in temperatures of around 8-12ºC. The grey skies have made it impossible to take any photographs but we called in a local beach last weekend and it was looking a little better. I’ll finish this post with this and hope all my readers have a great weekend.