Tuesday, February 14, 2012

exercise books

Found via SwirlyThoughts

Reading is usually quite a big part of my life, but lately it has not been coming easily.  The night I got admitted to hospital way back in November, the book I was reading (and so had about my person) was Smoking Ears And Screaming Teeth that you might remember I found in the street.  Since this book is all about medical experiments and people dying horribly as a result of them, it was not really the best book for me to be reading in that situation, but I found myself incapable of concentrating anyway and the book went back into my bag.  A week or so into my hospital stay, the night before my MRI scan, I decided to give it another go and picked it up... only to find myself at the chapter about MRI scans!  As you might imagine, I quickly put the book away and have yet to finish it!  

I struggled to concentrate on any books for a long time after that, but recently I've been getting back into reading, or trying to.  Just after New Year, I picked up The Last Family In England in a charity shop and managed to read it one-handed while feeding Dulcie in the evenings.  It was a very easy read and most enjoyable so I got another book by Matt Haig to read soon and I'm looking forward to it.  After that I read The Yellow Wallpaper, probably not recommended reading for anyone who's recently had a baby and is feeling a bit on the mental side, but I had been meaning to read it for at least a decade and enjoyed some of the stories quite a lot.  Just as I finished that, my friend Lorna sent me a book she had just read and enjoyed, Gillespie And I by Jane Harris.  I had wanted to read this book when it was first published and then somehow forgot all about it so it was a lovely surprise to get a copy in the post.  I managed to read the first chapter or two almost straightaway (Dulcie must have been on her best behaviour that day) and was instantly hooked, which was why it was so annoying to discover that the book was too thick to read one-handed while breastfeeding!  Nooo!  The book is so good, however, that I found ways and means to sneak in a few pages here and there and while I was around the halfway point I found I was able to hold it open and feed Dulcie at the same time.  Now that I'm nearing the end of the book, I need to find other times and places to read, situations where I have the rare luxury of two free hands.
The last couple of days I have been heading out to the park with the pram and stopping at a bench to read a few pages until Dulcie threatens to wake up.  When she stirs, I walk until she settles and sit down at the next bench and read a few more pages.  This might sound laborious, but I'm fairly romping through it, all things considered.  The book is set in the area I live in, although over 100 years ago, and it's fun to find yourself reading it in places where the action takes place.  The fountain in the background of this photo was the meeting place of a search party in the book.

I'm quite enjoying heading out in the bracing cold to read, but it is not without its drawbacks as this quote from the book illustrates:

"Vigorous exercise, indeed!  There is a saying that the Clyde is the only level highway in Glasgow, and the West End, in particular, is built upon a set of drumlins, producing the effect that - no matter which direction one takes - one always seems to be trudging uphill."

Now throw a pram and a heart condition into the mix and the green light is on for puffing and panting!  Who knew that a good book could be such good exercise too?!


  1. Needs must sometimes :) When I was younger and needed a reading fix in the bath (we weren't allowed to take books in with us) I used to read the shampoo bottles and at breakfast, the cereal packets! I'm reading The man who broke into Auschwitz at the moment and it's not too harrowing yet. If you want a light book to read then try The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas. Excellent though sad too.

    1. Ooh, I don't know about The Boy In The Striped Pyjamas. I saw the film and am not sure I could handle the book!

  2. Ooh, I loved The Last Family in England, and got a nice note from Matt Haig when I messaged him via MySpace (back in the day!) to let him know. I read another one of his books afterwards but didn't like it as much - not going to spoil it by telling you which one :-)
    And The Yellow Wallpaper is one of my all time favourite books, I studied it as part of my English degree and was so influenced by it I stopped writing letters and things on notepaper and only on 'found' paper. Luckily this was one of my shorter-lived "interesting phases", and I went back to yummy stationery and notecards after a few months.

    1. Last Family In England really was great. I just finished The Radleys and was pretty disappointed, thought it was like the poor man's Last Family. It was still entertaining enough, I suppose, but had a lot to live up to. I'm reading Pure by Andrew Miller (?) now and am quite hooked already. I seem to be in a historical groove at the moment.

      Yeah, don't go depriving yourself of reasons to buy stationery!


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