What's wrong with my garden is that it's mine. But that book lets me pretend that it's fixable, anyways. I don't think I am going to do anything diffe...moreWhat's wrong with my garden is that it's mine. But that book lets me pretend that it's fixable, anyways. I don't think I am going to do anything differently, really, so it's more like a fantasy escapist read, but it's still very reassuring.(less)
It is smart, funny, and about punctuation! What else a girl may need? (well, lots of stuff, but that’s another topic.)
Seriously, as much as I love fi...moreIt is smart, funny, and about punctuation! What else a girl may need? (well, lots of stuff, but that’s another topic.)
Seriously, as much as I love fiction, I often feel more passionate about non-fiction books on languages and history. It was this way since I was a child. I wouldn’t trade my fairytales on my encyclopedia, but the fairytales were a staple reading, whereas encyclopedias were a new magical, enticing world of knowledge about Stuff. I know a lot of Stuff since then, I’ve always been interested in Stuff that is hardly applicable in life.
One of my favourite books was A Book About Language – translated from English, though, of course I cannot name its author now. It was telling a lot of fancy stuff about different languages, and alphabets, and hieroglyphs, and smoke signals. The history of writing, the curious facts, the games with words – and thanks to the translator, appropriate examples with Russian language were included along with the English ones.
Lynne Truss doesn’t not explain every punctuation rule in English language, instead she talks about history of punctuation, its meaning, its changes through the time – together with language changes. She muses on prospects for the future of punctuation, rants about common misuse and indifference to the rules, overviews the proper usage, and she does it all in a wonderfully witty manner that makes me want to quote the whole book here. (less)
It is a rare pleasure to read a book and feel that you are having a conversation with its author. Such pleasure I've had reading Anne Fadiman's Ex Lib...moreIt is a rare pleasure to read a book and feel that you are having a conversation with its author. Such pleasure I've had reading Anne Fadiman's Ex Libris. It is a collection of essays on books and I felt an immediate affinity to the author from the very page, even if occasionally I violently disagreed with her.
Agreeing and disagreeing in each particular case is much less important than the feeling of belonging to the same nation of the book people and speaking the tongue in regards of the most important matters.
Marrying the libraries – as opposed to the author, ours are not married. We are reading each other’s books, but we keep those books strictly apart. Another thing to say about our libraries – they are not whole, even if they are growing in the most destitute times. The huge parts of our libraries stayed in Russia, hidden away in the boxes somewhere with my parents. It was plainly impossible to move everything here, so we took some we couldn't part or planned to read. But I do miss my books that I left and haven't seen for so many years, and I still have no idea when and how they can join the rest that is with me…
One of the things I do disagree with her is the divide between “courtly lovers of books’ and “carnal lovers of books”. I guess it is a matter of preference what we do with the books, but most people neither disintegrate books in the process of reading nor keep unread and untouched. Most of us, I believe, are in the middle, though I, probably, am slightly closer to “courtly love”. I prefer my books to be well-cared of, and I cannot imagine purposefully doing something to book that leads to its decrepitude – like tearing pages, or writing in it, of dog-earing (I can remember where I finished a day before), or… On the other hand, I read everywhere – including dinner, so my books are exposed to various dangers of being in my bag and near my food. I also enjoy lending my books to friends – here is another risk involved. Any more than the fact that “carnal lovers” are somehow better than those who care about the paper form of a book as much as of its content Another thing I disagree with, closely related to the preference to "carnal booklove", is the author's conviction that only those kids grow to love and read books, who had the free reign to play with the all the books at home. I don't have any theory to counter this one, but I can talk the practice of my own family. I love books very much, read a lot and have a rather large library. I was not, however, encouraged to play with books, but to treat them with respect and care - the attitude I keep even now. The lack of play with books didn't seem to have any effect on me. The was a lot of books around, including children's books that I always loved to look at, and one day I started reading them. My parents love books very much, have a rather large library and read a lot. The connection seems clear, not? Let's go further. My grandparents on the father side are also big lovers of book and have had a nifty library that I considered a real treasure cove, mostly because I didn't visit them as often and all the books seemed new and unusual for me. Plus they had a good children's books collection that my father and uncle read. It all seem coming together so far, is it not? My maternal grandparents though didn't have a large library. But they knew and loved and read the books they did have - mostly Russian classics. My grandfather knew by heart a lot of poems that he used to tell his grandchildren instead of fairytales. And yes, I was not allowed to touch the grown-up books I was to small to read (when I got older and wanted to read them I was more than welcome). So, my parents and grandparents loved and read books. My parents got their booklove from my grandparents. But where my grandparents got it? I unfortunately don't know about book habits of greatgrandparents or their parents. And of course, it is quite possible they all got it from their parents. But the thing is, my ancestors were all workers and farmers - the very folk, for whose benefit the Russian revolution was supposedly happened. They just couldn't possibly have large libraries and they wouldn't let their children to play with books they had, if they had some. And unless I am the descendant of uncounted generations of strangely bookish peasants, someone along the line had to start reading books for pleasure first. Going back to the present - my close family, I want to mention one other beloved member of it: my sister. She grew up with book-loving parents, older sister (me) and the ample amounts of books lying around to read or to play. And here is the thing: she didn't. Much to our bewilderment we could count on our hands books she read by her own volition. She just had other interests and better (for her) ways to spend her time. All the books around didn't tempt her. O. Started reading - but much later, after she graduated the school, but she still way less attached to books than my parents or I am. So what it is exactly that makes one love books? Nature or nurture? Playing with books or looking at them with reverence? I don’t know. And I am not sure that the answer really exists. One more essay that I remember well – I read this book a month or more ago, and some moments slid away from me – is the one about pen and the feeling of having a special instrument for writing. I heartily agree with the author here – I love my ink pen with a passion and generally enjoy writing with ink much more. I remember how as a child I had acquired somewhere a turkey feather. It was long, with white and grey stripes and hollow inside – I stuffed a ball-point refill inside and imagined myself a writer of old. When my mother was taking me to a post office, I would always go to a table where simple wooden pens and interesting red ink was available and would start writing some strange scribbles with it. Somehow regular ball-point pen didn’t inspire me at all. And now – passion for ink or not, I do not cause paper to suffer my writing –well, almost. It is all about keyboard and the monitor for some years already and there is no turning back. Well, almost. ;-) I still cannot write poems on screen. I need the tangibility of paper and the clarity of long hand writing for them. (less)