The Bookish Side of Life #5 ~ TBR

Library Haul

If you’re a reader, chances are you have a TBR pile. For the unitiated, TBR means ‘to-be-read’. For some people, this is a small pile of books on your bedside table, maybe in the order you’d like to read them. For others, along with that pile, there might be another pile somewhere else in the house. And then for others, there’s an entire bookshelf full of books that you have acquired that you definitely want to get around to reading.

Reading isn’t a competition, so it doesn’t matter if you’re in the first camp, or the third, or you fall somewhere different altogether. But I’ve been thinking about my own TBR pile recently – there’s a pile on the floor of my bedroom that I definitely want to read, so I don’t want to donate them to charity, or give them away. But that doesn’t stop me from picking up at least one book at the library every time I go, or scouring the shelves of a charity shop, or popping another book into my online basket when I get the chance.

That’s because I’m a reader, and as much I would like to pretend that I want to get through my TBR pile, secretly I just want to add to it. I just want to be surrounded by books, so that when I put one down, I have a multitude to choose from to read next. And I think that most readers would probably say the same. We might put ourselves on book buying bans, but we don’t really want to get to the bottom of the pile. We just want more books to read, all the time.

The Bookish Side of Life #4 ~ Learning Through Fiction

I got to thinking recently how much I enjoy learning through reading. It seems an obvious thing to say, but I don’t mean getting a weighty non-fiction tome out of the library to learn about World War I. So much of my learning comes through reading novels; when they are well researched, you find that you learn an awful lot.

At the start of the year, I read two John Boyne novels, both set during World War I, and I despite the wealth of knowledge that I have amassed in my lifetime about that particular subject, I still learnt things I didn’t know. I didn’t know what an absolutist was before I read The Absolutist; I knew as much as the next person about conscientious objectors, but I didn’t know that there were gradations of how people abstained from warfare.

A novel I read last year, called The Second Life of Sally Mottram, gave me an awareness of a something called the Transition model, about communities coming together to reduce CO2 emissions (that’s it in a probably highly inaccurate nutshell). It’s something I would have no idea about if I hadn’t read this book.

I often find that my engagement in a subject is increased by having read about it in a novel, rather than trying to learn about it by finding a non-fiction book. That’s not to say that I don’t like non-fiction books; I love them, and I do wish I read more of them. But I’m much more likely to want to read a non-fiction book about a topic if I’ve scratched the surface with a novel.

So now I find myself actively seeking out books that I want to read because I want to learn more about the subject. I’ve always been fascinated by Judasim, and I wish I knew more, so I want to read The Finkler QuestionThe Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay, and Disobedience by Naomi Alderman. It’s definitely the most fun way to absorb information!

* This post serves as my BEDM post for today – I’m going off topic again! *

The Bookish Side of Life #1

I’ve taken to describing Is That You Darling as a lifestyle blog with a focus on the bookish side of life. I think this sums things up quite well; I don’t want it to become only about books, but I’m a bit of a bookish character after all, and my blog is going to reflect that! So that with that in mind, I’ve decided to start a new series of posts called The Bookish Side of Life, just to round up a few of the bookish things that are going on with me lately.

I popped to the library this morning, to pick up a book that has been waiting for me for a while. I put The Chimp Paradox on my reservation list ages ago, when I heard the author, Professor Steve Peters on the radio talking about it. It sounded fascinating, but it took so long to come in at the library that I have lost some of my enthusiasm for it! I have already started reading it (walking home from the library), so hopefully I will remember why I was so fascinated with it.

I took about six books back to the library, mostly unread. I hate doing it, but sometimes I just get overwhelmed with how much I have to read, and I think it’s best if they just go back, and if I really want them, I’ll get them a second time. The idea was to take back lots and just pick up one, but I ended up having a browse of the shelves, and picking up another one too. The Girl in the Polka Dot Dress by Beryl Bainbridge took my fancy because it’s about a young couple on an American roadtrip that coincides with the Robert Kennedy presidential campaign. Anything with the words ‘presidential campaign’ in the blurb will immediately pique my interest, and it being Robert Kennedy makes it even better.

My book problem is more or less out of control. I made a list the other day of all the books I have to read, including library books, review books for the blog, review books for Essex Life, book club books and any others I want to read. It was a long list, and slightly overwhelming, so I did what any normal person would do. I reached for Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone and settled in for a re-read. I was supposed to be dipping in and out with a chapter here and there, which is what I did with Philosopher’s Stone, but then I devoured Chamber of Secrets within a day. It’s not really getting the job done, but I’m enjoying myself.

I’ve been baking out of a book today. My sister bought me Christmas at the Cupcake Cafe for Christmas, along with all the ingredients to make these Express Airline Altitude Cookies, and it has taken me until now to bake them! But it’s my dad’s birthday today, so along with a cake, I’ve baked some cookies. I haven’t read the book yet, but I might save it now until later in the year. It might feel autumnal today, but it’s very much midsummer!

What are you reading at the moment?