07 December 2014

Reading places

"Where does your father do his barnacles?" said Charles Darwin's son, visiting the home of his friend, whose father did not have a study.

Where do you do your reading? Or perhaps you don't read, or have books any more, what with all the seductions of modern media.

As a child, it was my delight to wake up on a Saturday morning and read in bed, finishing the book started the night before. Now, it's my delight to read in the bath of a morning.
A recent library-sale bargain is ideal for this - John Sutherland's "Is Heathcliff a Murderer: great puzzles in 19th-century fiction" - 34 essays based on books one could hardly not know about but may have not read or mostly forgotten.  "Periodic Tales" is a fascinating history of the discovery of the elements in the periodic table; in "Feathers: the evolution of a natural miracle" field biology meets cultural history (including a chapter on the quill pen); "Bright Earth" is about the history of colours and pigments; Berger's "About Looking" consists of essays from the 1970s, sometimes still provocative. Twyla Tharp's creativity book is about to leave the building, but Tim Ingold (Being Alive: essays on movement, knowledge and description) has to stay - I find my pencil marks showing previous reading(s) of certain sections, but obviously haven't absorbed it all yet. "Allusions" and "Saints" are good for a quick dip.

As well as in the bath, I like to read in bed -
I'm glad to have some library books there - one on mainly Renaissance portraits, some essays on American art by John Updike, and a biography of artist John Piper and his literary wife, Myfanwy - as well as picture books: a thin volume on Fred Williams, Chinese and Arabic calligraphy, Chinese prints, the work of Rebecca Salter, a history of glass. As for those lying on top - one is a biography of Grayson Perry but I have no idea about the others.

My third reading place is at the table, usually over breakfast -
mainly because it's easier to spread out a magazine - this one is World of Interiors (January issue), and I liked the way these pages were laid out, with all the white space. On the right is "fabric storage" in the home of a fashion designer; elsewhere in the issue is an article on a pastel-making workshop which at its height made 1,650 colours. Articles like that are little jewels gleaming among  ueber-expensive furniture, fabrics, etc, both in articles and advertisements - touch of reality [of a sort] among the "wonderful" interiors that are in a different world ... escapism is the name of the game.


Stitchinscience said...

What a great list of books Margaret. Luckily enough, our local libraries are still in fine form, so I have reserved three of these for some Christmas reading.

Julie Goucher said...

A great & interesting post my book list has grown by two of your books & three from reading the NY Times article

The Idaho Beauty said...

I read in bed before turning out the light for the night. I often read at the table while eating lunch, or when the weather permits, sitting on the back deck. The morning newspaper always gets saved for perusal over dinner. I have a very comfortable wing-back chair in the living room that one would think I'd spend much time in reading, but for some reason, I don't. I'm more likely to do handwork there. Finally, one of those things I'm not sure I want to divulge but I know I'm not alone...I do a lot of reading in the bathroom, and I don't mean in the tub!