Bibelots

a place for the curious

Category: books (page 1 of 4)

A reason to wake up in the morning. Books, paperbacks, hardbacks, audiobooks, secondhand books, e-books.

This has heart

One day, many years ago, I walked into a little bookshop in Glebe. It’s a beautiful place; full of culture, cafes, bookshops and all sorts of people. I bought a keyring with the words:

Glebe: somewhere on the East coast of Australia

You can tell a place has a sense of humour and confidence in itself, with vague and ridiculous words like these. The keyring’s broken now. But being the emotional hoarder that I am, I’ve still got it tucked away somewhere.

I fell in love with Glebe. The place and it’s people. It is, as Lonely Planet puts it, ‘quietly Bohemian’. A couple of years later, true love moved me to NSW, and I ended up working in Glebe. Just a roll of the dice, but a good one.

The place had its own unique charm. And it was built up by the people that chose to live there. Glebe, at that time, had a vibrant gay & lesbian culture. It wasn’t my culture or my community, but they were welcoming and amazing. The openness and kindness that was at the core – that’s what made it so wonderful. I doubt I’ll ever have the right words to describe it. Not for that place, at that time.

In another bookshop in Newtown, I found a beautiful book. Not in any special fiction area, just on a shelf. The guy’s name was Armistead Maupin. And his little family of Tales in the City won my heart. Won it, broke it, stormed it. These stories aren’t mine, but Armistead’s storytelling made me feel welcome in the Tales. Just as Mrs Madrigal would have made me feel welcome at 28 Barbary Lane. Armistead’s Tales have a fascinating history, but this isn’t about that. And others have written about it better before, and by people who can call this story their own.

These words are about what’s at the heart of a place, or a story. About how understanding each other doesn’t stop when we point out the differences, but allow them to be seen and shared. And, that’s painful. Sometimes it’s hard to hear or read, sure. But the heart it takes to share who you are, how much you’ve suffered only to be you, that’s something incredible. I had a chance to hear a moment like this again more recently, thanks to a beautiful podcast episode about Remembering Stonewall, from the gentle folk at 99PI. This episode left me speechless. People like this – and their stories – are everywhere. They change you. They open your heart, and your mind.

I suppose what this is, is my way of saying thank you. Thank you to the brave, to the beautiful. Thank you to the open, the honest, the kind. This is for you, the storyteller. The one with the story to tell.

My words won’t ever be enough. Instead, I’ll give last words to the grand lady herself:

“You don’t have to keep up dear. You just have to keep open.”
– Mrs Madrigal

Of fire and will: a letter for Lyra

'letters to myself' old faded cover of a magazine

Letters to myself and other words I’ve never set free, image via British Library

Dear Mr Phillip Pullman

I’m a bit angry. You see, I only recently started to read Northern Lights. The world is full of books and somehow I missed this/you/the boat. I’m halfway through and I’ve had to stop and put it down. It’s not that I’m not enjoying it. I’m loving it.

Oh, yes. It’s exactly my cup of tea. No question there. And it’s not that I don’t like Lyra. I madly, deeply love her. I don’t want to be like her, I want to be her. Lyra is a thousand million types of wonderful. She’s wilful. She’s fierce. She’s a firebrand. She’s on fire. She is luminescent and wild. She runs across rooftops and breaks my heart with every bound. Because it’s all a little late.

She’s who I wanted to be when I was a young girl. Only I didn’t know her. You hadn’t written her yet. I can’t say she didn’t exist, because she did. In my mind and, no doubt, in the minds of countless others.

So, yep. I’m angry. But only with your timing. You’re only a few decades too late. What’s that between friends? Everything, I tell you. Everything. What wouldn’t I have given to have her as my companion. But it’s okay. I think I did. It feels like I did. Did you know? Where you inside my head? Could you hear me? But, no. You couldn’t have. It all came too late.

I’ve put her aside, because when next there’s a day that I want to steal boats and set fires, I can pick up the book and be there again. I’ve done this with books before; there’s one book on my shelf with 3 pages unread. Its story will never end. I know it doesn’t make sense. It doesn’t need to. My younger self – my version of Lyra – she’d understand. If a treasure is good enough, you should bury it deep.

So, Mr Pullman, I’ll forgive you and your rotten sense of timing. If you’ll forgive mine.

Yours

 

A fellow firebrand, aka Pirate Rose

Reader with a cause

The story so far

lots of shelves of books

All the books,
from Nasjonalbiblioteket

Earlier this year, I took on the 2016 challenge set by Book Riot. There’s a lot to be read, and to make it more enjoyable I broke the categories into manageable (and unmanageable) lumps.

Having my lumps of categories has made it fun, but what’s been even more lovely has been the chats with friends as they help me with my quest to find the next great read.

So, since I’ve already had such enjoyable conversations and discovered so many wonderful books, I thought I’d share some of the darlings read so far.

I’ve not quite finished all of these, but I’m far enough along to be sure of my feelings for each one. Anything I haven’t enjoyed hasn’t made it onto this page. I’m not considering a category ‘done’ unless it’s given me something. And that something can be pause for thought, a good hearty laugh, or a chance for learning and discovery.

Friendly recommendations by stand-up citizens

From days ripe with book-loving conversations

Wonderful self-made discoveries

Not as much fun to find and with a lot less conversation

Suggestions welcome

I’m struggling to find a great choice for a couple of areas. Not that I can’t find anything at all, but I’m yet to find that one book that makes my heart yearn to read it. If you’re reading this and have a little beastie that is longing to be read, please do let me know.

  • Read a book out loud to someone else (make it short, please)
  • Read a book by or about a person that identifies as transgender (not ‘sort of fits this category’, but bang-on and damn good, if you can)

Onwards and upwards

I’m currently reading about 8 books. I got here because people keep suggesting wonderful things. And I keep starting to read them. I jump from one book to the other in a willful and glee-filled attempt to ‘read all the books‘.

So far, 2016 has been a quite magnificent reading year. If I’m going to judge this challenge’s success, I’d say it’s already won.

Where to from here? I don’t know for sure, but it’s going to be good.

Read harder or not at all

two people sit comfortably across from each other between two library shelves full of books

Getting comfy with books

I’m going to try a reading challenge this year. Not to prove how many books I can ram into a year – I’ve never been the type to sit around and boast how big, how far, how many – but to push the boundaries of exactly what I’m comfortable reading. And what I’m not.

It’s too easy to stay in your happy little comfort zone. Sometimes, when life is busy or tough, knowing your comfort zone and residing there is good and, even more, necessary. Sometimes you need to push the reading envelope a little.

This time of year there are plenty of reading challenges around. There’s one from Pop Sugar that’s quite nice, but I balked when I read their challenge of ‘A book with a blue cover’. Don’t judge a book by the proverbial, right?

Goodreads has you covered if you just want the numbers, but I do not. It’s nice though as they let you set your own goal.

I loved the look of the #BustleReads 20 book challenge. But I loved it a little too much. If I’m feeling comfy, it’s hardly a challenge at all. Yes? Yes. Still, I wholeheartedly reserve the right to go back there and plunder it if I get bored with my final challenge choice.

The challenge that I’ve gone with had a few goals that properly made me screw up my nose in discomfort. It’s still got some easy hits for me as well though. 500+ pages? Sure. Done. Horror? Um, how many can I have? Just one? Oh. But there is more challenge than ease, and so the winner is…

My preferred challenge

The 2016 Book Riot Read Harder Challenge

The challenge by Book Riot is a great list (that unfortunately is done as an image. Hello, modern web much?) You can get a text version of the list over at Goodreads.

For my own amusement, I’ve broken it into some useful groups. The point for me is to extend myself. I’m not bothered if I don’t tick all the boxes, but I do want to try and tick all the ones that make me break into a sweat.

Well, it doesn’t say it has to be an adult, right?

  • Read a book out loud to someone else

Uh, really? Do I really have to do that?

  • Read a food memoir
  • Read a biography (not memoir or autobiography)
    {I’m surprised by how much I don’t want to do this}

Oh, I didn’t realise how infrequently I do this

  • Listen to an audiobook that has won an Audie Award
  • Read a book about religion (fiction or nonfiction)
  • Read a book about politics, in your country or another (fiction or nonfiction)
  • Read a play
  • Read the first book in a series by a person of color
  • Read a book that is set in the Middle East

I’ve done this lots before, but I’m due again

  • Read a collection of essays
  • Read a book with a main character that has a mental illness
  • Read a middle grade novel
    {for Australians, this is a book aimed at kids aged around 8-12}
  • Read a book that was adapted into a movie, then watch the movie – debate which is better
  • Read a book by or about a person that identifies as transgender
  • Read a book that is by an author from Southeast Asia
  • Read a non-superhero comic that debuted in the last three years
  • Read a book originally published in the decade you were born
  • Read a book under 100 pages

Too easy, I do this all the time

  • Read a horror book
  • Read a nonfiction book about science
  • Read a book of historical fiction set before 1900
  • Read a nonfiction book about feminism or dealing with feminist themes
  • Read a book over 500 pages long
    {done, I read Elizabeth Gilbert’s The Signature of All Things}

Is it even possible not to do this?

  • Read a dystopian or post-apocalyptic novel

That’s all from me

It’s time to start reading.

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