Saturday, 21 January 2012

The Mobile Library

Day one of the move...well, day two if you count yesterday's packing! Tomorrow, the books go into boxes and the relays begin. This afternoon we sat in the living room of the new place discussing where the bookcases would go - I think we reached consensus. One of the important things yesterday was to make sure my current three books were in bags of stuff that I could get at - nothing worse than being partway through a book and then losing that book into the bottom of one of a number of identical boxes!

Young Sixteen, who has a holiday reading list, and was - back in December - eyeing it with some trepidation, announced today that he's really enjoying reading now. However, he qualified that with not being sure if that's a good thing for him! He's on his second reading of Cormac McCarthy's The Road, loved The Colour Purple, told me that One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest is 'sick, but cool' (!), and just got his hands on a copy of Catcher in the Rye. I have to borrow that from him when he's finished with it. I read it last in early high school, and to be embarrassingly honest, I don't remember anything much of it. I do remember I struggled to really get into it at the time, and clearly, it didn't leave a lasting impression on me. But, all the hype when Salinger died reminded me what an important book it is, so I'm feeling as if I ought to re-read it.

It's a funny thing, that sense of feeling as if I 'ought' to read a certain book. I have Dickens in my bookcase - not all of them, three or four I think. I picked them up at a huge second hand book sale years ago. I had to survive another book junkie's sharp elbows to get them - and she got Oliver Twist, which was the one I really wanted...she was so blatantly pushy that I refused to put the ones I'd picked up while I was trying to get to Oliver back on the table, although she was eyeing them covetously, because I wasn't going to let her have them! But, I'm ashamed to say, I have yet to read them. They add a decided air of distinction to my adult fiction collection, being lovely old dark red hardcovers with gold tooling. But there they sit - and although I have a big rule about the books in the bookcase having to be books that are read regularly, and they're not, I can't bring myself to toss them when I'm being brutal and having a cull. I think it's because they're Dickens. They're on that list of 'the books one ought to read'. The classics. That collection of literature that the well read book junkie should have well and truly under his or her belt. I have read Oliver Twist. I haven't read any of the others. So, although I never make New Year resolutions - and it's a little late for that anyway - maybe this year, I should bite the bullet and start on the Dickens.

I don't know if there is a definitive list of books one ought to read. I do know that when those lists come up on Facebook where you have to tick off how many of the hundred books you've actually read, I've usually read well over half, and own most of those I've read. But, there are often some quite random titles on those lists, so I don't know that they're definitive lists, In any case, my sense of a list like that is that it isn't enough to just read one Dickens, you have to read them all... Sigh... 

Classics-wise, I did Thomas Hardy at school - Tess of the d'Urbervilles and The Mayor of Casterbridge. Then we did a pile of modern classics - The Great Gatsby, One Flew over the Cuckoo's Nest, Catcher in the Rye, To Kill a Mockingbird, and others I don't remember. I also remember S.E. Hinton - The Outsiders and Rumblefish, and Paul Zindel's books with their crazy titles - Pardon me You're Stepping on my Eyeball, My Darling My Hamburger, and others. My generation went through high school at a time when American culture was really starting to impact on Australia and youth culture. Lots of American TV shows were being programmed (although, I'm only discovering many of those now, because my mother wasn't pro-TV and when we did watch it, we watched the ABC) and the American teen magazines became available. I remember borrowing Seventeen magazine from the local library - I loved the clothes, which were so much more interesting than anything I could find in the somewhat limited boutiques of the country town where we lived at the time.

Quality television adaptations of classic books offered me an easy entry into reading them -  I read George Eliot's Middlemarch after watching the series that was made - and have reread it since a number of times. The more recent adaptations of Pride and Prejudice - the TV series with Colin Firth and Jenifer Ehrle, and the film with Keira Knightley (which I liked SO much better) - have probably done more to bring classic literature back into popularity than anything else. Having said that, I think all of Austen's books now exist in film or TV series form, and they've all be done extremely well. Perhaps it helps that Austen was writing about ordinary people of her time living their everyday lives, suffering through similar issues as we do today - although, poor Mrs Bennett's anxieties about getting four financially challenged daughters married off is less likely to be the worry of a modern mother!

Well, the bookcases are behind me, and will be disembowelled tomorrow. They'll be reassembled in a different configuration in the new house. I've been giving some thought as to how I will organise the books...because I will get them all in order as I unpack them this time! For now, some mindless TV feels like the best option for a little while, and then the Heyer to doze off with before getting into the packing in the morning...

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