Category Archives: Observations

Pure In Heart, Susan Hill

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Book 2 in the Simon Serrailler crime series is starting to feel a little like a cross between The Archers and Midsomer Murders. It’s not quite a domestic drama and it’s not quite driven by the police procedural elements.

I’m wondering whether poor Martha Serrailler is long for this world… angels of death seem to be working her care home.

The Measure Of My Days, Florida Scott-Maxwell

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So, reading this for my book group. It’s not my usual reading material: non-fiction, no plot or chronology, written by an eighty-two year-old playwright and Jungian psychologist.

It’s not an autobiography, not even a memoir. It is, according to itself, a notebook containing her observations on age and on society. Rambling. Unstructured. Containing a lifetime of knowledge, experience and opinion ruminated upon in the isolation of age.

It’s essentially a blog. And so far we have considered the nature of evil, humanity and age.

As an example, I’ll leave this snippet which I found quite moving.

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How To Be Both, Ali Smith

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Wow. Just. Wow.

Finding this book and its stream of consciousness a challenge at the moment but Smith’s language can be so beautiful.

Christine Falls

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Really enjoying the prose in this novel, the first Quirke novel by John Banville writing as Benjamin Black. There’s a lucidity and flow to it which exposes Banville’s literary heritage. The descriptive passages are particularly evocative and the scents and odours of 1950s Dublin linger on the page.

So far, Quirke is coming across as a pretty damaged character: a recovering alcoholic, a widower and painfully still in love with his own sister-in-law. And, as if that were not damaging enough, there appears to be a frisson between him and Phoebe, the said-sister-in-law’s daughter. She’s currently offered to elope with him and fled a family party “clinging” to him.

Travels with Ruth

Oh dear!

Look what happens in my school if you accidentally leave a book unattended for a couple of minutes!

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Along with the following quotation

Adventure is a path. Real adventure – self-determined, self-motivated, often risky – forces you to have firsthand encounters with the world. The world the way it is, not the way you imagine it. Your body will collide with the earth and you will bear witness. In this way you will be compelled to grapple with the limitless kindness and bottomless cruelty of humankind – and perhaps realize that you yourself are capable of both. This will change you. Nothing will ever again be black-and-white. – Mark Jenkins

So, after many days away I have returned, this time to be loved, cherished and above all not forgotten.

I also want to say that if you ever change your mind and decide you would like to be lost, I’ll be waiting You’re my kind of time being, too.

Too Embarrassed To Read?

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The BBC ran this story on 4th October: reading is on the decrease, despite the lauded rise of the e-book; and one in five of our children would be embarrassed to be caught with a book. “Caught with”? You are caught with cigarettes by your parents; caught with stolen goods by the police; caught with drugs by customs.

You are not caught with books. They should be a staple part of everyone’s equipment along with their house keys, mobile and a pen. And I’m not just talking about school children.

Everyone.

Apparently, according to the article, since 2005, the percentage of children reading outside school fell from 33% to 25% in 2013; and, even more worryingly,

“About the same number said they did not think their parents cared if they read.”

So what can be done?

The National Literacy Trust is seeking literacy heroes to champion a love of reading and books.

Literacy heroes?

Who would be your literacy hero? Who turned you on to reading? For me, perhaps, my mum who was always reading (although, looking back, with very different set of books); maybe a succession of English teachers, especially Mr Moore – Hubert Moore – of Cranbrook School who allowed me to do my A-level English Literature on T. S. Eliot when the rest of the class wanted to do Sylvia Plath!

Turn to your own children, parents of Britain! Be your child’s own literacy and reading hero! Take them, hand in hand, along the lines and lanes, words and woods you loved at their age! Read in front of them. Read to them. Read with them. Listen to them read! Whether they are pre-readers, novice readers or recalcitrant teenagers show them that there are things to broaden their minds and world view beyond the television screen.

#fridayreads on twitter and pages like Coffee And A Good Book on Facebook do help promote reading – as, in some small way, might my own Book Readers’ Sanctuary blog; teachers who model and are seen reading will help – especially male teachers – but it’s often too late by then!

Parents have to inculcate the habit and give time for reading at home and take kids to the library

eBook Sync

Ooooo that was more complicated than expected!!

Mrs P is pregnant and lacking in iron and gets rather tired rather early of an evening. Rather than leave her lonely and isolated upstairs, I like to retire up to bed with her. But the external light on my Sony ereader is rather bright and illuminates the room like a miniature solar flare! So I wondered whether reading on my iPhone would be less obtrusive for her.

Do you see what a good husband I am here? Supportive and considerate.

So I set about today trying to work out how to transfer the 5000+ books I have on Calibre (brilliant library app!) to iTunes (clunky, ubiquitous and hegemaniacal – my own word and I like it! It means “maniacally seeking hegemony”). Having owned an iPhone now for nearly two years I don’t think I have ever opened my iTunes before today!

The Connect/Share button on Calibre includes an option to Connect to iTunes.

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So, blithely, I clicked it and – with my iTunes open – it connected to it. It seems to recognise the iTunes now exactly as it recognises my Sony ereader.

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In the same way that you click the Send To Device button when an ereader is connected, the same button now sends selected books to iTunes.

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There now seems to be two levels of selection to transfer them actually onto the phone!

I may have got this wrong but it seems to work if I select the books I want on the iTunes list as seen in the last picture.

Then, connecting the iPhone itself and clicking on the iPhone Books tab you can select which books to sync in a second box ticking exercise.

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That, I don’t understand but if you select the books you want on the first list in iTunes and keep this second list selecting All Books, it seems to reduce the effort.

And there we have it: 1737 of my 5047 books transferred to iTunes (my library is desperately in need of pruning!); and a paltry 388 transferred to my phone, taking up 295 MB and available on the iBooks app.

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And the experience of reading on a phone? I’ve held out against it for a long long time grumbling primarily about its stupid tiny screen and its backlight is so bad for your eyes and it’s not like real reading

But actually it was fine.

Mrs P slept undisturbed, step-son continued to ignore all requests and suggestions to sleep, my eyes neither bled nor blurred, the book continued to make sense. Life continued as normal.

Yes, the screen is tiny and you do need to page-turn very frequently. But it was actually smaller lighter and more one-hand friendly than the Sony.