Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Read Me Like A Book That's Fallen Down Between Your Knees, Please

Do you remember doing the MS Readathon as a kid? I do. I loved it, because I always won. Even though it wasn't really a competition, it was for charity and a good cause and all that. I didn't care, I just liked reading. And I was good at it. So good that I was given extra books in class to keep me quiet, though I was quiet anyway, so much so that teachers thought I was socially maladjusted. I wasn't. I was just bored. I sat there, mute and mannerly, wishing the other kids would hurry the fuck up and finish their sentences so that we'd be allowed to turn to the next page and I could race to the end of the story. The idea of a reading competition was like a dream come true! (again, I know that it's not really a competition, but whatever). For me, it was never about raising money. It was about keeping score.

It was the competitive rather than the charitable aspect of the exercise that stayed with me. So far, my plan to goad Andrew into reading more (for his betterment!) so that I can push myself to read even more than him (and win!) has been somewhat hampered by him reading to me in bed (I fall asleep instantly) and by my boss' husband supplying me with crime fiction by the bagload (we discovered a shared affection for John Connolly at a dinner party; I realise with some regret that this makes me sound middle-class and old). The crime fiction's a double edged-sword: I rip through it like I would a tray of teacakes, but I can't read it at night because I scare easy. It means I have to have a daytime book and a nighttime book, and that's before we even get as far as my toilet book, which is the one I keep in the bathroom because I've started it, so I'll finish, but I don't really like it much.

I read constantly, and my one regret is that I stopped keeping a list. I should have indexed them, like Gimme did his videotapes. As a teenager, I used to carefully transcribe the paragraphs that sang to me into a little notebook. But I grew to hate my handwriting as much as I did the rest of me, so I threw it in the bin. I think that's why I love computers so much. Setting my words (even the borrowed ones) in type lends them an authority that my weak-chinned scrawl never could.

And so I've started a Tumblr. I read so much that means so much that it seems a shame not to scrapbook it somewhere. Some day I'll be articulate enough to put all that I've read to use but until then, I'll share the parts I underline in pencil. If you like, you can fill in the blanks.


Catherine said...

An excellent use for a Tumblr. Consider yourself followed (in a non-stalkerly way).

I used to keep a record of all my reading in a battered orange copybook (including Readathon books!), complete with a spectacularly inconsistent star ratings system. And for all the embarrassing shite I've come across in the boxes in my parents' attic, d'you think I could find this one piece of useful history? Sigh.

Katherine said...

Great! Consider yourself followed. In a stalkerly way.

I am stuck in Bad Science at the moment, which is great, but you do have to concentrate, so it's taking ages. I'll have a bit of fluff after this, methinks.

Conan Drumm said...

Oh dear, this is a bit generational. It's exactly how Drummlet #2 approached the readathon... wrote and writes journals, and keeps a book of freshly encountered interesting words.

Rosie said...

yay! followers! i don't really know how Tumblr works, i'll be honest. i just shove people's feeds into google reader and hope for the best.

Catherine, you sound like the cutest teenager in the world. i wish we'd been friends then.

i don't read non-fiction at all, Katherine. i had an impassioned argument about why in the pub on saturday night that i can't quite remember the gist of (there was drink taken) but i suspect consisted mainly of me insisting that life's too short. i think i won.

are we of an age, Conan? make sure he or she keeps the journals, though. i regret destroying all evidence of my teenage self (though i can live without the photos).

Conan Drumm said...

Probably threeish years between you.

Silas Meek said...

Everybody seems to be jumping onto this tumblr thing recently. What's the dealio? Should I sign up? Is the word dealio still socially acceptable?

I used to love the competitive side of the readathon too. Screw this charity lark, I just wanted to show what a great reader I was. I remember being INCREDIBLY proud and arrogant when some test in third class showed that I had the reading age of an 18 year old. I was the reading champ of my class!

Andrew said...

You appear to be taking so many hits that you've crashed Tumblr's server. Or something.

Non-fiction was created purely for the purpose of making us feel morally and intellectually superior, you should try it.

Also, I wonder if Katherine knows that I keep seeing her on George's Street. In a stalkerly way.

Oh yeah, and I'm commenting in my book blog guise because I'm totally put out tht you didn't link to it.

Annie said...

I've started collecting pages from my favourite children's books on tumblr. I'm hoping this is going to encourage me to write one.

Be careful that tumbling doesn't stop you blogging! It's easier.

Rosie said...

no to both, Silas.

Annie informs me that "soon you'll realise that posting pictures of kittens and funny quotes is so much easier than blogging and you'll come to the dark side. you'll stop writing altogether. your days will be filled posting songs that you hope Andrew will read some meaning into AND there will be photos of kittens..."

she's so dramatic.

Katherine, if you see a handsome bearded hulk staring at you on Gaeorge's St, wave. Andrew, i didn't link to your book blog because then it would look like i was jealous of it and that's why i started a Tumblr because that's totally not the reason, m'kay?

Annie, you'll keep me on the straight and narrow. x

Annie said...

Yeah, and did I mention the kittens?

Tessa said...

How times change! Rather than competitions (yeah, I know, I know, it's not a competition, blah blah) to make us read books, I was constantly being chided for having my nose stuck in a book. Both my mother and the nuns would confiscate my books, so I had to smuggle them into the house and/or dormitory. I would've aced that competition (yeah, I know, I know ...)

I missed the good old days when I lived in a bedsit and could put my hand on any particular book at any time. Now there are bookcases all over the house and I'm too old to be squatting in dark corners trying to locate individual books. So I've indexed and recorded them on a spreadsheet, stored in the cloud in case my computer crashes. My index is not quite the Dewey system; the code on each book spine reads "TV(#)" or "GR(#)", for example, which means the book is at a certain location on bookcases in the tv room or the guest room.

I like the idea of Tumblr to keep a kind of commonplace book; right now I add stickies to mark passages, because I don't want to write on the books themselves.

emordino said...

Well this is just vastly better than my tumblr press release.

I have a brother who exclusively reads brick-sized history books, and another who only reads about physics and maths. Different strokes, innit. But the thing is, they only started doing so post-college. There's whole swathes of people whose only experience of books is the incredibly narrow one they get in school, and they come away with the idea that all books are boring and useless, and no one ever steps in to disabuse them of the notion. Which is not only tragic, but borderline criminal.

Adie said...

Well you have me intrigued, so I signed up. I'll get round to stalking you eventually.

For Katherine, Bad Science is worth the effort

Rosie said...

what a lovely, practical, nerdy solution, Tessa.

quite, Colm. i wish you'd been in the pub with us on saturday night.

no, rush, Adie. i'm still preoccupied with trying to stalk myself on google street view.

Rosie said...

um, that was meant to read "no rush, Adie". really, don't hurry yourself. i married my last stalker.

Kitty Cat said...

I was so delighted with myself when I won a stopwatch for doing the MS Readathon. I was the only one in my class that got one. I had no use for a stopwatch but that mattered not.

Also on the videotapes thing, last Christmas as one of the Bear's presents, I wrote individual index cards with either a continuity error or interesting trivia on them for every one of his VHS tapes, and gave them to him all alphabetised in their own little box. He has well over a hundred videos. It was ridiculous.

Rosie said...

will you be my girlfriend, KittyCat?

my posting on Tumblr is likely to be infrequent at best once i get over the excitement of having set it up. but right now i want to re-read everything i've ever read so that i can show you the shiny bits. i'm still reading Hateship, Friendship, Courtship, Loveship, Marriage at the moment though, so expect more Alice Munro.

C'est La Craic said...

You have a toilet book too! At last! It may still mean I'm odd but at least I'm not alone.
I used to reserve my Chomsky books for the "study" for even though he's informative and intelligent, there's no better man to bore the shut out of you.

C'est La Craic said...

Sorry, didn't mean to write "shut" there but I'd say everyone can guess anyway.

Rosie said...

thank you for picking up on the bit everyone else had glossed over, La Craic. if there was one thing i wanted this post to say about me, it's that i like to read on the toilet. if there were two things that i wanted this post to say about me, it's that i like to read on the toilet and i have a Tumblr.

Tessa said...

"Nerdy?" That's the nicest thing anyone's ever said to me, Rosie. I can't wait to tell the son; he thinks I'm a technological fuck-wit who shouldn't be allowed within a donkey's roar of a computer.

Rosie said...

but you have a blog!

C'est La Craic said...

It coculd be worse Rosie, I once knew a man who kept a book in his toilet... and he wasn't much of reader, if you see what I mean.
Which remiinds me, I must get him Bertie's biography for christmas.