Tag Archives: International Book Week

A man’s best friend is not (just) the dog

“One of the most unusual is ‘Cucemoru’, deep purple, grey and cream, the colours of the gris-de-lin that Sir Thomas Hanmer had valued so highly in his Welsh garden a hundred years earlier.”

This is International Book Week: Grab the closest book to you, turn to page 52, post the 5th sentence as your entry paragraph in today’s blog entry (the rules actually said Facebook status, but I’m changing it). Don’t mention the title. Write anything else you want below. Copy the rules.

I wasn’t much of a reader when I was in school. The last thing I wanted to do after a whole day of studying, solving algebra equations and memorizing text was…to read some more. I was desperate for some activity. I wanted was to go out and feel the sun on my back, walk, breath the fresh air and talk to a friend. The only printed material I read was newspapers and magazines. It was not until I finished school – and with it all the obligatory reading material associated with it – and my parents had given up trying to convince me to read literature (“extracurricular books”) that I discovered how entertaining books can be.

I’m not sure what brought about the change of heart. What I do know is that once I finally escaped the pupil mentality, I decided to start reading writers whose name somehow came across my path. For example, I came across some of Oscar Wilde’s funniest epigrams and decided to read The Importance of Being Earnest. After that, I watched an interesting Russian movie and thought I might read Dostoyevsky. The choices were thus random and I never read more than one book by the same author in a row. I followed this rule for a while, but I broke it when I read Orhan Pamuk’s Istanbul. I told myself this was an exception, but I did it again after Salman Rushdie’s Midnight’s Children,  and then again with Nikos Kazantzakis’s  Report on Greco. At that point I dropped the rule altogether and just followed my reading appetite.

There was one rule I managed to follow: I wanted to focus on old and modern classics (thus the aforementioned titles), thinking that since I had decided to read, I might as well start with the best stuff around. Since then, my repertoire has expended to include history books, essays, plays, travel guides, books on gardening, art, architecture, philosophy and a bit of poetry. I’m always reading something – long or short, funny or serious, in English or Greek. 

Lately I seem to have been influence by a trip to Berlin and decided to (finally) read Gunter Grass. I started The Tin Drum in the brilliant new translation by Breon Mitchell (unfortunately I cannot read German). I’ve only reached page 46 but I already know I’m going to remember this book for a long time.  That’s the thing with good reads. You know you’re going to establish a long-term relationship.

Note: My opening paragraph is not from The Tin Drum. The challenge says to grab the book closest to you, not the one you are actually reading at the moment. Mmm, mystery.