This morning, I got to do something I haven’t been able to do in a long time. I woke up on my day off, turned on the light, picked up a book from my bedside table and read. The luxury of simply reading for the love of reading is one I have struggled to find time for since university.
What do your books say about you? (I don’t mean behind you back.) The books currently sat on my bedside table could tell you a lot about me.
The Unknown Unknown, Mark Forsyth
Where did I get it? Received this in the post, adorned with a post-it, which read, “Thought you might enjoy reading this. Granny x” After receiving said delightful little package, I rang my Gran. She said it reminded her of my blog, the way I ramble, tangents veering off.
The tagline reads: “Bookshops and the delight of not getting what you wanted.” Do you know what a good bookshop is? Forsyth does. I haven’t been in a good bookshop since I was in New York and my wonderful aunt took me to a little treasure trove, where I discovered Verlyn Klinkenborg.
While I would happily tell you more about this little beautie, I’m concerned I might ruin the joy of an “unknown unknown.” It took less than an hour to read, and made me laugh out loud several times. Clever and witty without trying to be. Delightful in its purposelessness.
Bookmark: A page torn from my notepad at work. It is the beginnings of a short story I started writing during that last useless hour of a work day. Between half 4 and half 5, when no one really does anything but wait for the day to end. The Twilight Hour.
I have since continued writing the story on the computer at work – typing gives the impression of doing something productive – and I’m hoping to extend this into a collection of short stories. Might post a snippet on here at some point.
Don Quixote, Miguel de Cervantes
Where did I get it? Waterstones, Oxford.
This is one of the classics that follows you around. One of those epic, brick-like monstronsities that act as an adequate book-end until you work up the courage to dig in. Our friend Forsyth puts it thus in The Unknown Uknown:
“Tolstoy, Stendhal and Cervantes, these men follow me around. They stand in dark corners and eye me disapprovingly from beneath supercilious eyebrows. And all because I’ve never got round to reading their blasted, thousand-page, three-ton, five-generation, state-of-a-nation thingummywhatsits.“
I’m taking on this monster. About 6 months in and I’m half way through. The adventures of the deluded knight, Don Quixote and his hapless copanion, Sancho Panza. It makes one giggle in a “Droll, Cervantes, very droll” kind of way. But there’s also the odd Dick Joke, which is nice.
“Hastily he pulled off his breeches and was left wearing only his skin and shirttails, and then, without further ado, he kicked his heels twice, turned two cartwheels with his head down and his feet in the air, and revealed certain things; Sancho, in order not to see them again, pulled on his horse’s reins and turned him around, satisfied and convinced that he could swear his master had lost his mind.”
Bookmark: Another product of the Twilight Hour. My job does very little to stimulate me and it’s not unusual for the last hour or so to be spent on arts and crafts… I need a new job.
So: used file dividers, a holepunch, selotape and a black biro and voila!
Much Ado About Nothing, William Shakespeare
Where did I get it? Given to me by an ex-boyfriend.
My audition monologue for drama school was taken from this. Who doesn’t love a bit of Shakespearean comedy, with a feisty female lead?
“Not till God make men of some other mettle than
earth. Would it not grieve a woman to be
overmastered with a piece of valiant dust, to make
an account of her life to a clod of wayward marl?
No, uncle, I’ll none.”
You tell ’em, Beatrice!
Bookmark: Sinfully dog-eared…
Pygmalion, Bernard Shaw
Where did I get it? Accidentally stolen from my secondary school…oops.
Most people know this play as the musical adaptation, “My Fair Lady,” starring Audrey Hepburn. This is not the musical version, but the original play. Arguably far less exiting than Audrey’s delightful attempt at cockney.
In search of another audition monologue, I dug this book out. Turns out, it doesn’t contain much in the way of a decent female monologue. Too much quipping back and forth between Eliza and Professor Higgins for them to give each other time to go off on one.
Think And Grow Rich, Napoleon Hill
Where did I get it? This was a gift from my father at Christmas last year. It’s a book he believes everyone should read, if they are serious about being successful in their lives.
It’s a formula for success. This book has sold millions of copies since it was first published in the 1930’s and this particular publication features a list of famous/wealthy people who attribute their success to this book and the secret it contains. The secret is never directly given. It is rather a means of discovering the secret for yourself. But you will only discover it, if you are ready to receive it. I’m only a couple of chapters in, so have little to offer about its effectiveness. And I certainly haven’t discovered the secret yet. My father has read it several times and still isn’t really sure he knows.
Bookmark: A sample tester from Bare Escentuals make-up. It was lying around when I started reading. But it’s too chunky and keeps falling out of the book in my handbag. And there’s always the danger that if I close the book too vigorously, foundation will burst out. All things considered, it’s a terrible bookmark.
The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Stephen R. Covey
Where did I get it? A gift from my father – the second book that everyone should read. This book was gifted to me by my father a few weeks ago. This book, too was adorned with a post-it: “The most important book you will ever
read live.” An entirely intentional palimpsest that my father was very proud of.
Palimpsest is one of my favourite words, so I just wanted to unceremoniously throw that in. (This may be one of those tangents my grandmother was talking about.)
I have yet to read the first page of this book. It’s place on my bedside table is entirely prospective.
The books found on your bedside table say a lot about the kind of person you are – or perhaps the kind of person you want to be. Assuming you have a pile at all. But then, I am a student of English Literature. I’ve been conditioned to look for meaning in everything I read. Even in the banal words of a young blogger.
The More you Read,
The More you Know.
The More you Know,
The Further you Go.
– My Daddy
P.s. If you’re wondering how true it is that your books reflect who you are, then take a look at my grandparents’ bedside table. Says it all really.