woensdag 18 februari 2015

Reading Between The Sheets

I love books!!!  Despite the fact that I had difficulties with reading and spelling it seems that books conquered my heart at a very early age.  The local library was one of my favorite places to hang out at.  My parents were of course thrilled about this love affair and you always made (and still do) me happy with a book voucher.   P even has got issues with my collection of books that is starting to stack up in our attic.  Hey, I wish we owned one of these private libraries.  I just can't resist the call of colorful & mysterious covers.   If you ever loose me while walking through a city then go to the closest by bookshop and chances are likely that you will find me there.

Now I have been asked numerous times what books I read.  Well, that question is so much shorter then the answer can be.  I don't have one kind of books I like.  Oh yes, there are genres that I am not that much into because I have given them perhaps once or twice a go and they were not able to satisfy my hunger.  Oh yes, Stallie has come across books that have run her insane.  My first time reading Hemingway was not a that much fun.  A book that goes by the title 'The Old Man"&The Sea' had not that much to keep me interested.   And when I had to analyse 'Mourning becomes Electra' by Eugene O'Neill I totaly went of the radar for a few days.  The first pages of 'The English Patient' by Michael Ondaatje made me wonder what the fuzz was all about and it was thanks to a very gifted film maker that I gave the book a second chance.   Shakespeare his Hamlet has filled me up with 'to read on or not to read on'?  But because this was on the litearture exam Iwas forced to pick up the book and dive into it over and over again.  

The day that I sneaked out of my father's office with the hardcover of 'The Pickwick Papers' by Charles Dickens it were the tiny illustrations that kept me going on.   Oh and then there was that one time that I realy wanted to find out what my dad had come across when he started to rave about 'In The Name Of The Rose' by Umberto Eco.  Well, the first 200 pages I did not seem to see it and was I so much tempted to put it back on his desk.   Something similar I had to face when I read for the very time Coetzee.  'Waiting For The Barbarians' was quite a fitting title when I considered reading it already a barbarian act. But I never gave up... I kept on reading in the hope to see what others managed to see... I was curious...

One day that stood out was when I for the very first time met up with Thomas Hardy.  I was in English Lit class and embracing myself for a rather boring class in which I had to take notes against time.  But then something happened that has happened so many times when I read a book that suddenly opens up when I managed to let the words sink in but then in very intense way. Something was set a fire.  A very strong sensation that kept me on reading and longing for more.  After Hardy nothing was ever the same when it came down to books.    That day English literature became so much more then a bunch of titles that were called 'classics'.  So yes, I am very happy that I showed some persistence when it came down to reading.

It are those classics that have made me reading in depth, that made me wonder about the beauty of words and managed to keep up at night instead of sleeping those esential hours before an other tiring day in class or at work.  Books have brought so much extra into my life and I will never ever be able to repay all those authors that entertained me or tried to teach me a few things about life.  Yes, I am proud that I managed to finish 'The Discovery of Heaven' by Harry Mulisch.   Reading that book was such adventure. 

Reading is part of me and I try to have a very open mind when it comes down to it.  In the world of books I try to live with a not a set of fixed rules.  Thanks to a very inspiring Irish lady N,who I met up with on a sunny Saturday I did embark on a very intense book adventure.  When I became a member of her bookclub I found out how complex and intense the world of the written word can be.  The hidden messages and the beauty of the language I suddenly found in places I had never been before.   And no, we do not all agreee the whole time about a book.  Sometimes we even change our opinions about it once we had a interesting chat about our experiences.

So no, Stallie does not only read classics or will only touch books that get great reviews.  I found out that when I give a perhaps at first sight a rather boring book a go then I might find a treasure.   Oh yes, I do have got my preferences.  Jane Austen never will fail me on a rainy day.  That will never ever change because I even walk around with a tote bag with a gigantic quote of Pride&Prejudice on it.  But then I also have one with a Twilight quote on it.  Don't ask me why because that is a totaly different story but it does mean that the Twilight books did find a way into my personal reading list.

Yes, I sometimes stay away from books that say on the cover 'New York Times bestseller' or 'Already over a half million copies sold worldwide'.  I can be suspicious believe me and then I need a long time to find my way back to that one title.  There then also then moments that I picked up on a best seller before anyone around me.  Like for instance my first Harry Potter book I picked up in a bookstore in North Canton, Ohio and at that moment nobody in Belgium had even heard of the wizard boy.  The reason that I did buy it was because I had read a very promising review in Time Magazine about it.   I have to say that I even had a lovely time being one of the few people in my home country who knew about the wizard kid before he was going to conquer the world.

I also read books in other languages.  In my mother tongue my heart starts to beat faster when I read lines that have been created by Jeroen Brouwers, Hugo Claus or  Connie Palmen. And many more have made realize that if an author masters a certian skill he or she can let you cross over to place where language has got so much more potential.  My love affair with the Dutch speaking authors wasn't easy forward.   But now years later and when I try to teach teenagers the beauty of words I even dare to use sentences like 'I have got a crush on Harry Mulisch.' or 'Do you see what Verhulst has managed to do with only 7 words?'  The complexity and the intense beauty of a poem written by Hugo Claus can swift me of my feet. Dutch literature can sparkle if you give it time to sink in.

Stallie has a very intense relationship with literature and she surely knows that there are authors who have created something exceptional.  She thinks she also knows when something is considered rather pulp.   But I even read those even if they do not get those 4 star reviews in the Huffington Post.  I do go to movies that a professional journalist considers 'trash' or even considers 'not worth your money'.  Why don't I then listen to those people who make their living out of that kind business and surely know what they are talking about.  Well, that is just me.  Do I need to justify myself, do I?  The thing is that I have found out that some books will touch my heart in a more intense way and others will leave without leaving behind a single trace.  Even if they did get that promising review or many friends rave about it.  But I am openminded as well when it comes down to books. 

Sometimes in my world of books there opens up a new window of reading opportunities.  This was surely the case when about 2 years ago I got introduced into Austenesque literature.   I have this lovely friend M who is out here with a great blog and writes great reviews about books that are inspired by my most favorite female British author: Jane Austen.   She introduced me into a world that has already given me so many entertaining moments and they have made me smile while drinking a cup of George Clooney and I am turning the pages of book that describes what happens to Mr Darcy and his Elizabeth after they tied the knot.  When we met up last year in London I was so grateful to her that we ever got me meet on social media.  Yes, my personal collection now also holds some lovely and delightful Austenesque books.  Will everybody be able to share that love with me. Nope!  Because let us be honest we do not all like the same books and movies, do we? 

So and this brings me to an other rather very hot topic and that is the movie that the media has been raving about for months and that is based on a certain book that features a hot shot but totaly f***ed up multi millionaire and an innocent and romantic English Lit graduate student.   Oh yes, believe me I had serious reservations about that trilogy.  I still have because let us be honest it is not literature with a major L.  Plus I had my own very personal reasons why I did stay away from them.   Basically I had the same issues with those books as I had with Twilight and to be honest if Peter Facinelli not had shown up in the A&E after Edward Cullen saved her then I might not have bothered to get the first book.  Team Carlisle Cullen it was then and it still is.   But no as much I loved that triology I don't give them as much stars that I will give a book written by Coetzee or J.K. Rowling or Jody Picoult.  But hey those books are a totaly different league.

And so yes, Stallie went to see what the effect of the six pack of Jamie Dornan was on the pale skinned and lip biting daughter of Don Johnson and Melanie Griffith.   Oh yes, I wanted to see what a director had done with these book characters who surely are not considered average.  And yes, I did get comments about doing so.  Oh yes, I am fully aware that there a people who have very strong reservations about this kind of story.  There is so much already said about them and P even did send me a few reviews warning me that the movie is even sleep inducing.  But hey, it does take a bit more then that to convince me not to and see a certain book or read a certain book.

Now, don't get me wrong! Please bear with me for a second on this rather touchy subject because Stallie even has certain reservations about the movie herself and they do matter.   One of the main issues I have with all of this is that the movie only is scratching the surface of what is told in the books.  There are characters missing and one is very crucial to understanding Mister G his psyche.  But it seems that the director had her reasons not to include those in her creation. Fair enough because after all a film is not a book.   The thing is that if you ever will have major discussions about this movie without reading the books that we won't speak the same language.  But don't worry if you buy me a gin&tonic to cool down after our very fierce discussion I will calm down in no time.

The people who know me very well and had some conversations about the content of them will know why I did so.    The thing is that I there are people who do judge a person by the books and the movies he or she watches and that can piss me off.  Pardon me for my French but that is what it feels like when you think that this is how I function.   I have never done that & I never will do such a thing.    So call me what ever you wish behind my back.   The thing is that as long you have not sat down with me and had very serious conversation with me about why I do like a certain book or movie that I might not agree with your opinion because it then rather feels as if you are judging a book by its cover. 

To end this perhaps rather grey sounding entry I wish to point out that I am a bit happy that I managed to read these rather kinky books on my Kindle.  Because I doubt it that I would have gotten the same reactions like when I was reading a paperback version of 'This Book Will Save Your Life' by A.M. Holmes.   That cover has attracted some rather curious looks when I was travelling on the metro into down town Brussels.  One time a total stranger asked me:'Has it got that effect?'  I then answered:'I am still alive.  But I guess you will need to read it yourself in order to find out.'  She then smiled mysteriously and got off the metro and I will never find out if she did. Do I care?  No, I don't but am I happy that I read it.   So reading keeps me happy, my mind sharp and focused but once in a while I need a dash of Bella or Anastastia to pull me through the very depressing 'GREY' days....that and a Starbucks Latte Machiatto grande with caramel and tons of cream on top.  Seattle you will always be a life saver...

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