Things I’m Reading Thursday #13
A little light reading this week… be sure to let me know what books are on your bedside table at the moment, too!
Music Listography also hugely appealed to me, as a geeky vinyl-hoarder and creator of mix tapes. In this case the challenges are seemingly easier — “list your favourite jazz and blues”; “list bands that you do not like” — but in my humble opinion, they’re actually harder. I was driven into a frenzy trying to remember which side of 1980 The Pretenders’ “Brass in Pocket” fell on (the far side, by the way), and tied up in knots trying to pick just twenty all-time favourite records (I’m still deliberating, in fact). However, these books have given my bus journeys to and from work a whole new meaning — I’ve loved filling them in. They’re also things of beauty — each list is laid out on a lovely thick cardstock page with hand-drawn type and gorgeous (and sometimes weird) illustrations. If you’re a journal-writer, a list-maker or just plain nostalgic, you will absolutely love these books.
I’m also working my way through this strange little book, which (as the title may suggest) is a collection of writings on sisters, siblings and sisterhood (genetic, platonic, political, and so on). I bought the book for two reasons: one because I was in Sam Read’s bookstore in Grasmere in the Lake District, a bookstore so charming and fabulous that I find it impossible not to buy something every time I visit and b) because I thought it might be useful for my PhD thesis. I made the mistake of thinking this was an anthology of literary criticism. In truth, it’s just an anthology of STUFF, and it can never quite seem to make up its mind.
There doesn’t seem to be much in the way of structure. You get an excerpt from Antigone, in which Antigone scolds her hapless sister for refusing to help her bring justice to their slain brother; then on the next page you have a section of Dorothy Wordsworth’s journals in which she describes the fateful Spring day that she and her brother discovered the famous “host of golden daffodils” whilst out on a walk. Elsewhere there are ‘also-in-the-news’ type newspaper snippets — a Siamese twin who had to put up with her conjoined sister’s smoking habit for forty years — and extracts from scientific research papers on things like hymenopteran female bees who share more genes with their sisters then with their own offspring. Palmer interrupts occasionally to give her thoughts on what constitutes sisterhood, to talk about her relationships with her own sisters, and to speculate on what life must have been like for previous generations of sisters in her family and elsewhere. It really is a mental book… but’s it’s chock-full of gold. Every new page brings a new weird and wonderful fact or opinion, a new snippet from a book you suddenly feel the urge to go and read, a new brilliant stanza from a poem or verse from a song. My thesis is all about women’s voices, women speaking through other women, and the desire for female predecessors to show us how to go about things. However, I’m also a devoted sister, an aspiring feminist (it’s one of those things where I’m never sure if I’m doing right or not), a teacher and a writer… so this book captivates me on many levels. It was a chance find, it’s utterly nuts, and I’m only about a fifth of the way through… but I’m already glad this odd little book crossed my path.
So what are you reading this week?