Shakespeare said we must, “unpack our heart with words.”
My name’s Lou and I’m a reader-holic. Reading keeps me sane but I don’t have enough time for all the books I’ve fallen in love with because I let trivial things like work and child rearing get in the way of my devotion to great literature. I’ll read anywhere; it’s not a problem. I take hours at the supermarket because I read every label. I scan the back of the cereal box at breakfast because I’ve taught my children it’s rude to read at the table. But really I’d be reading that too if I didn’t have to talk to them about their day.
My writer dad fostered my devotion to great books, when I was 11 he gave me Hemingway and Steinbeck to read and we talked about their writing. I still remember talking to Dad about the ocean being a character in Hemingway’s book The Old Man and The Sea when I was 12 years old. Books kept my dad’s mind alive through his deprived childhood and he treasured the craft of good writers.
This is a photo of the current to read pile beside my bed. The book at the top is what I’m reading right now. The one at the bottom is by my dad. My dad wrote or edited over 100 books. Reading is my family’s addiction of choice. There are so many books and so little time. When I’m really, really old I’m going to live in a house filled with furry dogs and books and an open fire. The dogs will force me to get out of the house to walk them otherwise I’d stay inside reading and never see the sun. You’re never alone when you have a great book to read. Henry David Thoreau said,
“Books must be read as deliberately and reservedly as they were written.”
But my favourite quote on reading is from Lemony Snickert:
“Never trust anyone who has not brought a book with them.”
I’ve just finished reading Caitlin Moran’s marvellous book How To Be A Woman. It’s funny and discusses a lot of questions that modern, Western women are asking. I recommend reading it if the fact that women earn less than men annoys you and also if, to quote Caitlin Moran, ‘you have a vagina.’ But my favourite quote from the book is her view of feminism:
‘….Greer uses the words ‘liberation’ and ‘feminism’ and I realise – at the age of 15 – that she is the first person I’ve ever seen who doesn’t say them sarcastically, or tempered with invisible quote marks. She doesn’t say them like they are words that are both slightly distasteful, and slightly dangerous, and should be handled only at the end of tongs, like night soil, or typhus.
Instead, Greer says ‘I am a feminist’ in a perfectly calm, logical and entitled way. It sounds like the solution to a puzzle that’s been going on for years. Greer says it with entitlement and pride: the word is a prize that billions of women, for the span of human history, fought to win. This is the vaccine against the earlier pioneers’ failure. This is the atmosphere that would sustain us all in space; the piece of equipment we’ve all been missing. This is what will keep us alive.
…The word feels more exciting than swearing. It is intoxicating. It makes my head swim.’