Thursday, 23 May 2013

To be honest I preferred the walk to the book

In the course of my life I have bought hundreds, possibly even thousands, of books. Usually I bought them to read them straight away, sometimes because I intended to read them "one day" and sometimes for reasons I can't quite recall.

The upshot of this is that I accumulated a LOT of books and when the great move from the UK to Greece was planned, I had to accept that some of them would have to go. And go they did, some to members of my family, some to charity shops and others in book banks. At first it hurt to do this, but then I began to realise they are only books. You can always get some more books and you can also get the same books again. Sacrilege some would say, but honestly, attachment to material things really isn't going to make you a happy bunny.

Among the books to survive the cull (I think modern management refer to such cuts as "rationalisation") was one rather hefty volume called 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die. The book, which is edited by Peter Boxall, suggests 1001 books you might be interested to cast your eye over although I don't think that he and his colleagues are seriously suggesting it is an imperative before you cash your chips in. The book itself is an interesting read and great to dip in to and see what you make of the selection.

Recently (and this may make you think I have too much time on my hands) I decided to work out how many of the 1001 books I had read. As of now, the answer is 116, so I am more than ten per cent of my way through this literary bucket list. All of those 116 were read by accident, as it were, before I laid hands on 1001 Books You Must ... etc etc so at this rate I'll have to live to be about 500 if I'm to read all of them. I suppose if I target my reading a bit more I could get through more of the list, but it's not something I'm going to lose sleep over. I am, as they say, quite relaxed about it.

And some of the 1001 on the list that I have read I almost wish I hadn't. Among them is To The Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf. It is, apparently, an "experiment in modernist narration" - well done, very clever, Virginia. I can see that VW was shaking the idea of novel-writing around until she came up with a way she wanted to do it, and although it is a while since I read To The Lighthouse I do recall finding it just the teensiest bit dull. Maybe I should give it another go and then I could compile a book called 1001 Books You Should Give A Second Chance Before You Nod Off. We'll see.

The title of this post refers to a walk and earlier this month I walked with the Skopelos Scramblers, who really should call themselves Amblers, to the lighthouse at the northern end of the island. Here are some pictures of the lighthouse at Cape Ghourouni (Cape Pig).

Once we got to the lighthouse we had a picnic and then we ambled back and it was almost at the very end of the walk that someone mentioned To The Lighthouse and never having read it. It was suggested by those of us who had, that she wasn't missing much and it was then claimed by one of the Amblers that Virginia Woolf had written one book that was worth reading. This particular book is called Flush and is not VW's account of the menopause or using a modern lavatory. Instead it is a biography of Elizabeth Barrett Browning's spaniel. How sweet. Whether Flush has lots of stream of consciousness going on I'm afraid I'm unlikely ever to find out. It will probably be one of the many, many books I shall never read before the Grim Reaper calls. Sorry Virginia.

Virginia Woolf: "Loved a joke".

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