Books, Books, Beautiful Books

I just saw a picture of my brother’s first grandchild, Teddy, with a pile of books entirely coverering his lap. It was part of a message from his Mum announcing that she has decided to become an Usborne sales consultant.

The picture reminded me of the important place books held in my childhood and the place they hold, thanks to me, in my daughter’s life.

When I was a small child I suffered from constant, chronic asthma. I was always missing school and my Mum often had to take me along to Uni lectures and tutorials as she juggled a sick child with study.

My family are all big readers. Mum swears I taught myself to read on summer vacation in Surfer’s Paradise almost out of boredom. Mum would buy my brother and I magazines and books to keep us occupied while she and my Dad read on the beach. My father wasn’t as big a reader as the rest of the family but on vacation he read Ian Fleming, Len Deighton and John Le Carré. I would flick through picture books and picture magazines (Treasure was my favourite, Graeme had Look & Learn that had less pictures and more text). So one vacation, when I was a little over three and a half, while flicking through Treasure on the beach I apparently managed to connect the pictures and words in “Treasure” well enough to start reading.

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Fiction For Me

Books, books, books

Books, books, books

Today’s Daily Prompt is:

When reading for fun, do you usually choose fiction or non-fiction? Do you have an idea why you prefer one over the other?

I read both, I enjoy both. I write mainly non-fiction (for some reason I just can’t manage plot) but when it comes to fun I read fiction.

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Quote of my day – Patti Smith

Picked up a copy of ‘Just Kids’ by Patti Smith and was immediately taken by it. The dedication and foreword were enough to get me hooked. The writing is raw, unadorned and honest. More when I have finished it in a day or so but until then this quote struck me immediately:

I vexed my teachers with my precocious reading ability paired with an inability to apply it to anything they deemed practical.

I think Patti and I must have had the same school career.

Slash and Burn

(c) Alexis Tejeda

(c) Alexis Tejeda

Today’s Daily Prompt: Write 500 words on any topic you like. Now remove 250 of them without changing the essence of your post.

When you’re in a bad mood, who or what makes you feel better? A Daily Prompt from a week or so ago.

Lifting my mood can be a difficult thing. You see I suffer from depression.

The best way is to silence the negative thoughts. If my befuddled brain gets no other input I spend my time listening to the voice inside my head that tells me what a failure I am and rehashes my past. I can end up feeling a total failure, unloved and unloveable.

To silence those thoughts I need high quality input. Reading a good book, but good TV or a good movie can work as well.

Getting out of the house helps. Riding my pushbike or motor scooter. Sitting in a coffee shop with a double macchiato.

The other thing that can replace the silence is intellectual work. My job or writing. Writing can be ideal as I take whatever is coursing through my head and turn it into words.

The problem with that is when the depression gets particularly bad the first thing to suffer can be my writing.

Writing should come easy. For all the joy I get it can be hard. Sometimes you sit at the keyboard and the words **do** come easy but sometimes nothing comes and when it does come it’s hard and ugly and nothing as you want.

Reading and writing and TV. Those are the things that lift my mood.

My Oasis

It’s hard to talk about my oasis, my place of calm. I don’t really have a specific place, more a state of mind.

It’s a spot where I can be comfortable and sit or lie there with a book, escape into the pages and leave the everyday world behind. It has been like that for as long as I can remember.

I’m a chronic asthmatic, have been my entire life. That meant when I was a child I spent a lot of time ill, a lot of time on my own, a lot of time amusing myself. It was then I became a more than avid reader.

45 years ago asthma was an uncontrollable disease, there were no preventative medications and not many options for symptom relief. If an attack started the best thing was to stay calm and relaxed and hope to ride it out, otherwise it was a house call from the doctor and an injection. I would retreat into a novel, relaxing and calming myself with a great story.

In the long, slow hours when I was awake at night or home from school due to the disease I needed a place of calm and serenity to make it easier on my body to shrug off an attack and to relieve the boredom and I found it in the pages of a good novel.

So my oasis isn’t a single place, when I was a child it was Africa with Dr Doolittle, England with the Secret Seven or the deck of an 18th century sailing ship with Horatio Hornblower. Now it’s just as likely to be the dystopian future of William Gibson or Southern England with Emma Woodhouse or Elizabeth Bennett.

When I open a book I am picked up and taken to another world, another time. I am entirely in the hands of the author to be charmed, scared, romanced or excited at their whim. I am so taken, so captured by my reading, that those that love me have learnt that when I’ reading it’s best to ask a question and wait a moment for my mind to come back from it’s meditation, realise I’m being asked a question and formulate a response. You’re not being ignored, it’s just that it takes a moment.

Sometimes I need my oasis to be a familiar place, I go to my shelves and pull down an old favourite that I know so well that all my responses to the book are predictable and familiar. These are the days when calm is hard to find. At other times a new adventure is what I seek. I want to explore new horizons in the infinite space of fiction.

So if you see me sitting somewhere with a book leave me be and know that physically I can be anywhere but inside my mind I am at peace, calm as I visit my oasis.

This post was inspired by the Daily Prompt Oasis.