Wednesday, 5 May 2010

I love books.

I will read anything: the back of the cereal box, an instruction manual, a foreign newspaper but mostly books.
If I haven't got a good supply of reading matter on board I become a very irritable beast. The problem is that I read at an extremely fast rate. Always have. It seems that I don't read in a conventional manner, rather I 'scan' a page and see the whole thing at once. It used to drive my teachers crazy. Mind you it's a godsend when researching or looking for a small piece of information. One of my party tricks used to be finding a telephone number in a directory simply by looking at the entire page, I used to be able to pull the right one out in a second or so. I believe it's something to do with pattern recognition. My brain identifies the shape that I am searching for rather than the specific digit or letter. Weird huh!

Anyway it makes book carrying a major item. I can get through at least one medium to light weight novel a day(that's without really trying), heavier stuff takes a little longer but not much! TBH also reads a lot and isn't far behind me in speed.

As it has been so very hot for the past week or so the only thing to do during the hottest part of the day has been to lay back in a sweaty heap and devour books. That can be a problem too. Most marinas have a bookswap but, how can I put this politely, most of the books on the shelves are complete crap. Really bad thrillers, westerns, romances. Here on the Rio the quality seems to be particularly low! Then you realise that the best stuff never touches the shelves! Canny cruisers sound out new arrivals and seduce them into a private bookswap! Sadly there aren't that many canny cruiser's around either!

This season we have been lucky a few times. Firstly the visit from daughter Lucy back at Christmas enabled me to go hog wild on Amazon and she bought bags stuffed with wonderful books out. Then I met Ann of Galivant who is a most discriminating reader. We were mutually delighted ( I think) to discover a similar taste in both fiction and fact and also a real relish of travel writing. I was able to introduce her to Dervla Murphy, a great favourite of mine, and she opened my eyes to Barbara Kingsolver and numerous other American writers. Mind you I think Ann is a whole lot more literary than me ...

Then just as things were starting to look a hit dire again Angie from Blue returned from her summer cruise. Wonderful! 40 new and exciting titles and Angie is another hell of a discriminating reader. I think she was a linguistics lecturer in a previous life and she certainly upgraded the material that we have been accumulating!
Another fan of travel writing and some marvelous historical biographies. I have been thoroughly enjoying the contents of the two big bags that she delivered to us just before they departed for the UK.

After a very unsatisfactory selection of American spy thrillers, whodunits and sad female romances(I try and ration the 'good' stuff), I have just got through Hugo Gryns 'Chasing Shadows' a moving and thought provoking account of his childhood in Hungary and subsequent interment in Auschwitz.
Hugo was a rabbi at a London Synagogue and he was a regular broadcaster with BBC Radio 4. His programme "The Moral Maze' was one of my favourites. Thought provoking, witty and erudite, I was a regular listener. His book is all the more powerful for his lack of exaggeration or drama. The ordinariness of his tale at odds with the horror of his story. I recommend it.

And so once again supplies of literature are getting thin, only a handful of decent books left on the shelf. One of the offspring needs to visit soon or there may be some uncomfortable moment on our boat!

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