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Tony Grist

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Reading Habits [Feb. 3rd, 2012|01:30 pm]
Tony Grist
I used to buy fine editions. Then I couldn't afford them any more.  In the last year or so I've realised I no longer need or hanker after  hard copies. All the books in the world are swarming around in the aether- new ones, old ones, very, very rare ones. Hit a few buttons and there they are at your feet- just as if you were shooting grouse.

I still own lots of books. As Virginia Woolf said (I think it was her) "books do furnish a room".

The last book I read (J.M. Barrie and the Lost Boys by Andrew Birkin) was an old paperback that was coming apart at the seams. The one I'm reading at the moment (Sentimental Tommy by J.M. Barrie himself) is an e-text. I don't find any qualitative difference between    curling up with a real book and curling up with my e-reader.  After all, it's the words that matter.
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[User Picture]From: lblanchard
2012-02-03 01:34 pm (UTC)
How did you find J. M. Barrie and the Lost Boys? I think that's the Barrie quasi-biography that I have.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2012-02-03 01:36 pm (UTC)
Ailz bought it from an on-line bookseller. It related to a course on children's literature she was doing.

Edited at 2012-02-03 01:37 pm (UTC)
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[User Picture]From: lblanchard
2012-02-03 02:02 pm (UTC)
Sorry. I meant to say "what is your opinion of...?", not "where did you get it?"
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2012-02-03 03:51 pm (UTC)
Silly of me..

I found it very readable. It relies heavily on primary sources- letters, diary entries etc- which are woven cunningly into the narrative.

You're right to call it a "quasi-biography". It focuses on one particular phase of Barrie's life- his relationship with the Llewelyn-Davies family- and leaves much else untouched.
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[User Picture]From: sovay
2012-02-03 03:22 pm (UTC)
(Sentimental Tommy by J.M. Barrie himself)

I didn't know that was Barrie's. I read it in installments in my grandmother's Books of Knowledge when I was small; I remember the scene with the schoolmaster Cathro and very little else. I'll have to look it up again.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2012-02-03 03:57 pm (UTC)
Tommy Sandys is part David Copperfield, part Tom Sawyer, part Zelig. I'm about halfway through, with the sequel- Tommy and Grizel- still to come. It's a book which keeps changing direction and wrong-footing the reader.
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[User Picture]From: steepholm
2012-02-03 06:00 pm (UTC)
I haven't checked, but I associate 'Books do furnish a room' with Widmerpool in Anthony Powell's Dance to the Music of Time. Of course, he may be quoting Woolf, but in my head it's an indicator of his vulgarity (i.e. he can conceive of books as furniture, but not as reading matter).
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2012-02-03 07:44 pm (UTC)
I believe you're right. I've googled it and all roads lead to Powell.
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[User Picture]From: heleninwales
2012-02-04 11:40 am (UTC)
Interesting how the meaning has shifted because when I hear it quoted, it's usually in the sense that poliphilo meant, ie that the furniture hardly matters if you have all your familiar books around you like old friends.
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[User Picture]From: steepholm
2012-02-04 12:06 pm (UTC)
Please don't take my head as a reliable indicator. It may well be that you're right, but I'd have to go back to the books to find out - and that, of course, is unthinkable.
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[User Picture]From: heleninwales
2012-02-04 01:30 pm (UTC)
I wasn't querying your memory, I genuinely meant "interesting". :) I seem to recall are other instances of similar shifts in meaning, but of course I can't bring any to mind at the moment.
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[User Picture]From: red_girl_42
2012-02-04 03:46 am (UTC)
I think e-readers are a marvelous invention, but I can't get into them myself. For me, part of the joy of reading is the sensual pleasure of the book--the smell of it, the feel of the left side growing thicker as the right side slowly grows smaller...
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2012-02-04 10:13 am (UTC)
I guess I'm just not much of a sensualist :)

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[User Picture]From: michaleen
2012-02-04 12:31 pm (UTC)
My beloved and I were talking about books, yesterday, after school. She came home with a finely bound edition of one of Steinbeck's. It was beautifully done, with marbled end papers and a ribbon sewn into the spine. A local corporation had donated them to the students and she said that the students were, not just reading them, they were treating the books with a certain reverence. None had ever read a real book before. C said she'd never seen them act that way.
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