A homage to Catalonia, libraries and presents for Christmas
Posted on November 14, 2014
Has it been a month? Coo. And I’ve only just finished Antony and Cleopatra (sniff). (I don’t want to give away spoilers, but I am dying, Egypt, dying.)
I’ve now started Macbeth, am halfway through Graham Greene’s Travels With My Aunt (lulz, and there’s a film!), have added three Roddy Doyles to the Winter Pile of Books, and have been on a secondhand book hunt to Basildon, where for £3.50 I got the entire pile in the pic.
There are reasons, mostly in the pic, why it’s usually good to shop outside my corner of west London.
The Grauniad today published a piece on ‘Love letters to libraries’, including their ten favourite quotes. I write most days of the week in my local library and have been recently mulling over their general brilliance.
Books – to take home – for free? When I read Ben Hanscom’s reaction to finding this out in Stephen King’s It I remembered feeling the same 'Er what?' wonder as a geeky child.
Free books to read, people to talk to who knew about books and, these days, info on IT, access to the internet, classes and courses for free or cheap – if libraries were proposed today, they would never get funding. *shakes cane*
In a week where 11 of 18 of Liverpool’s libraries were saved from a closure ‘massacre’ after protests and a letter signed by 500 educators, writers, artists, illustrators, actors and musicians, Book Week Scotland has launched a campaign asking people to write love letters to their local libraries.
For a writer, I am oddly inarticulate on this topic simply because it means Rather a Lot to me: I imagine my love letter to be merely running sobbingly up to my local library staff, clinging to them like a three year old and saying they are indeed the dude.
But I would chain myself to railings to keep the library open if need be. (I may have been reading too many suffragettes.)
The best library quotes from the piece; thank you, Grauniad, and I think I will have these framed:
The very existence of libraries affords the best evidence that we may yet have hope for the future of man. TS Eliot
I always knew from that moment, from the time I found myself at home in that little segregated library in the South, all the way up until I walked up the steps of the New York City library, I always felt, in any town, if I can get to a library, I’ll be OK. It really helped me as a child, and that never left me. Maya Angelou
The only thing that you absolutely have to know, is the location of the library. Albert Einstein
I have always imagined that Paradise will be a kind of library. Jorge Luis Borges
Other books read this month; most from my local library and all recommended:
- John Ajuide Lindquist, Let the Right One In: toothily good, and whoever wrote the screenplay is a dark genius; fangs for that
- Annabel Pierce, My Sister Lives on the Mantelpiece: deceptively simple narration and story
- Chris Higgins, The Day I Met Suzie: excellent in its portrayal of manipulation and growing sympathy for a narrator who at first seems a bit too self-satisfied to be likeable
- Four more Jacqueline Wilsons: Girls in Love, Girls Out Late, Lola Rose and Double Act: all utterly wizard, of course. The ‘Girls’ series, showing relatively privileged but still insecure 13 year old Ellie, is a first-rate read – although Ellie’s boyfriend Russell is just a tad red-flaggy in Girls Out Late. Double Act mentioned The Twins at St Clare's and yay to the ending. And Lola Rose – uncomfortable reading in places re mum/daughter relationships, and another reason I fear I will gush when I shuffle shyly, book-to-be-signed-in-hand, towards Ms Wilson next week at the Richmond Literature Festival.
- Four Enid Blyton rereads: Five Go to Billycock Hill, Five Have a Wonderful Time, Five Get Into Trouble and The Mystery of Tallyho Cottage. (I could always take or leave the Five Find-Outers, but think it’s time for a series reread. Effen you want an Enid Blyton fanfic, a smashing one is here.)
- Anthony Buckeridge: Jennings as Usual (ditto re a series reread)
Also this month etc. I’ve been to my first two NUJ London Freelance Branch meetings, met some lovely people I wish I’d found ages ago, and am very much looking forward to the Christmas social in a few weeks. A roomful of journalists, on non-regular incomes, among a roomful of free booze? What could possibly go wrong etc.
And! My travel blog was named in the aforementioned Guardian as an example of ‘summer staycationing content marketing we love’. About babies and toddlers, no less: A hands-on, no-nonsense guide full of packing, ‘toddling’ and sleep survival tips, this article is a must-read for parents brave enough to take the little ones ‘glamping’. Blush. I’ve also been writing about many a region in France and Spain, and think I would like to move to Barcelona forthwith.
Finally and festively, my travel blog this week rounded up my top ten outdoor holiday and camping Christmas presents: I’ll have the waterproof Kindle cover, the VW washbag and the tent in the trees, please Santa. Santa?