‘There are no days more full in childhood than those days that are not lived at all, the days lost in a book.’ – John McGahern
With this, I fully agree, and indeed, would extend the sentiment to adulthood. It is also what I have been doing myself since Christmas. Of course, the holidays always afford a little more time to indulge in reading. I keep (when I remember to fill it in) a book journal, detailing the books I have read and, originally, I wrote my comments about them in it as well. You may ask what on earth is the point of doing that and I have to confess that the ‘journal’ has essentially turned into nothing more than a list of books read and the dates of said reading but, when I first bought it, I was also writing reviews for a local magazine, so there was more of a point to it.
It is, of course, yet another time-eater – to write your thoughts on every book you’ve read, especially if you read a lot – but, looking back at my previous notes, it’s actually quite nice to pore over them. As much as I read, I also, annoyingly forget. Unless a book is so fantastic that I can’t ever possibly lose the narrative of it, the stories just seem to seep out of my brain and sink back into the pages when I’m done. Even fantastic books have been known to do this. Someone may ask me if I’ve read a particular book and, if I know I definitely have and subsequently recommend it wholeheartedly, I am usually furtively hoping they won’t ask…
But they do.
‘What’s it about?’ Well, let’s see. I’m an intelligent person, I’ve read lots of books and I know I’ve read this one.. I’m a writer and am no stranger to reviewing books and giving my opinion but… well, I’ve quite forgotten.
The favourite quotes section I have kept up more easily, as it takes only seconds to jot down a particularly evocative or well-crafted phrase that stirs the imagination. They both inspire and motivate me on to write sentences which could be similarly inspiring to others…
Anyway, the book journal has had its annual outing this month as, given the fact even my freelance work was put on hold temporarily whilst Everyone In The UK Was On Holidays… I found I had that little bit of extra time to indulge in my personal library. Cue reading two more books in the past week that have been gathering dust for a few years (but they do always eventually get onto my reading list!). The book journal came out and I was appalled to realise I hadn’t filled it in regularly since last January, when once again, my reading had been much more concentrated because of the holidays.
If it’s difficult to recall what happened in the stories you read, then I can only say that trying to remember the actual titles of all those books you’ve read over the past year is just as tricky…
Meanwhile, the poem a day reading is still being maintained and is throwing some unusual and unknown poems into my path. Some I grasp meaning in, others I simply appreciate the writing and some, well, I may go back to them.
My attention was also recently drawn to a short story competition I had forgotten about, which has a closing date of February 3, so my first creative fiction attempt for 2014 will be geared towards this. It is through the Stinging Fly and, seems only to be open to Irish citizens but, the link is here if anyone wants to check it out.
Writing competitions are great for motivation, as they give that all-important deadline for finishing your work and, yes, the thought of receiving a prize and gaining recognition for your efforts has its own appeal. These are secondary, though, to simply getting something put down in words and so, without further ado… I really must be getting back to my notebook!