Before I get on with the fun of writing all of the things in my headbrain to do with books and reading, (and I have already made a list of topics I want to cover, from my favourite bookshops in the world to the wonders of Hay-on-Wye, from my guilt at buying second-hand books to the wonders of buying second-hand books…), I thought I’d just let you know what I am reading at this precise moment in time.
(Not literally, of course: at this precise moment in time I am typing away on my slightly veteran (6-year-old) MacBook, with a slightly dull footie match on TV in the background. But I did put down both of the books I am reading moments before beginning to type, and I will almost certainly be picking one of them up again as soon as I’ve finished).
(Sidenote 1: I’ve never been sure of whether or not brackets within brackets was allowed, as I had in that last paragraph. But this is my blog, so I guess (or even, I’m sure), I can do what I want).
(Sidenote 2: I’ve also always wondered who it is that says ‘brackets’, (besides me), and who says ‘parantheses’? Is it a US/UK thing? A posh/not posh thing? I don’t care enough to google it, or anything. Just a thought).
BOOK 1: I am just over halfway (149 pages of 267 pages), through ‘THE ARCHITECTURE OF HAPPINESS’ by Alain de Botton, begun this morning.
(Possibly Vaguely Interesting Fact about Me No.1: for as long as I can remember, whenever I start a new book I always check how many pages there are in it. For some reason, I enjoy reading with a target, knowing how far through a book I am, what percentage I have left to go, etc. It’s good to have goals).
I recently gifted, (I think I like the fact that ‘gift’ has become a verb…I’m not 100% sure, but since I used it just now, that’s got to be a sign, hasn’t it?), his fantastic early book ‘The Art of Travel‘ to Somebody, and it reminded me how good he was, how there were still two or three of his books left that I haven’t read, and how two of them were lurking in my Cupboard, (see future entry on: Books, Hoarding Thereof). This was one of them, and the other, (‘A Week at the Airport: a Heathrow Diary), was dug out along with it and finished in an afternoon yesterday. Both of them were picked up at various second-hand shops in the past few months, (see future entry on: ‘Second-Hand Shops: Their Part in my Downfall’).
(Whilst I’m foreshadowing future entries, my signed copy of ‘The Art of Travel’ is happily snuggled on my Signed Book shelf, and will be revisited no doubt in the entries: ‘Hay Festival: How to Drown in Books’, and ‘Signed Books: Why Do I Love Them So Much?’)
This book has been as fascinating as de Botton always is, making you feel cleverer and more educated merely by reading a few hundred short pages interspersed liberally with grainy photos of buildings, paintings and furniture. Having visited a number of the sites mentioned and pictured, (from the bridges and banks of Berlin, to the Language Faculty in Oxford), made me feel inordinately proud of myself, as if de Botton were a teacher I were trying to impress, and more importantly the way the line of thought takes in not only architecture but also art, history, culture on every level and at every facet, is stunning.
Book 2: I have just taken a break from lesson 16 of Berlitz’s Essential Russian (with Audio CD featuring native speakers).
Anyone reading who knows me, knows that languages are my thing. It has been years since I learned a new one, (and one a year was my goal when I finished university, a rate I haven’t quite managed to keep up), so it was about time. Last year’s move to Argentina saw me brush up my Spanish which didn’t count, Afrikaans in South Africa never happened, and the few words of Xhosa I learned didn’t count. Finally, thanks to a recent New Acquaintance and a lot of spare time this Summer, I began studying Rooskiy. Ya nachal uchit po rooski?
For previous languages, I have always used Dorling Kingsley/Hugo’s “XXXXX in Three Months’ series, which always provided a good base for the languages, but they don’t appear to have one for Russian, so this seemed like the next best thing when purchased in a Barnes & Noble in Manhattan a few months ago. I try to do around 30minutes a day of the bite-sized lessons, which consist of a (sometimes unnecessarily complicated/boring) conversation, explanatory grammar points, massive vocab list and exercises. I was reading Russian within a few chapters, which felt good, but the fact that I can discuss setting up a joint US/Russian partnership venture, yet don’t quite know how to say: “My name is Doron. I like playing football in the park at the weekend with my friends” is a little bizarre.
Needless to say, the CD hasn’t even been cracked out of its case, let alone used.
2 books is probably as few as I am ever reading at one time: I guess since I’m at home, doing very little for a week or so, I am able to focus on one at a time until I finish it. Give it a few more weeks, and I will be whizzing about, juggling half a dozen tomes, but for now, that’s it.
Although, now I come to think of it, I am 51% through Oscar Wilde‘s not-at-all-as-Gothic-as-I-expected-but-thoroughly-amusing-as-imagined ‘The Picture of Dorian Gray‘ on my iPod’s Kindle reader; a little way into (controversial) Greg Mortenson’s ‘Stones into Schools: Promoting Peace with Books, not Bombs, in Afghanistan and Pakistan‘, (the sequel to ‘Three Cups of Tea‘), as I have been since I downloaded it to my iPad’s iBooks a year ago; and one article into the free weekly highlights which get automatically uploaded to my iPhone’s The Economist app every week, and which make me feel like I could almost get a real job in the city, wearing suits and paying £5 for a pint after work, (does free magazine articles on a phone even count? Again, my blog, my rules, I guess!)
But these are Toilet Reading, and will be discussed under future headings ‘Toilet vs Train: Diferent Books for Different Places,’ and ‘Digital vs Physical: Do I Need Paper?’
Stay tuned for further updates, and thanks for all of your views, comments and support already, (don’t you have anything better to do? Don’t I?!)
I’m off to finish Alain de Botton now.
(And in response to one reader: never fear, there will indeed be a better title, when I get round to thinking of it!)