Touching Base…

It has been a quiet couple of weeks reading wise – I always know when it’s time for a little break as I find myself unconsciously dipping in and out of more non fiction books -often leaning towards self help/psychology type books which I have to admit are one of my guilty pleasures. It will be a relief I’m sure to know I don’t intend to write too much about them – not the most interesting blog fodder I know!


I started to read Alain de Botton's How Proust Can Change Your Life. His writing (Alain de Botton’s) is endearing, I found it a pleasure to read his thoughts on Proust’s thoughts about life – if that makes sense. The whole Proust thing I have laid aside for another time, I think it will be a project to relish at some stage but 3000 + pages or even one volume of that seems a bit daunting just now.

I have also be dipping in an out of Diana Athill’s Somewhere Towards The End – a slim book on her thoughts about her life as an older person (she was 91 when this was written). I hadn’t heard of Athill (a well known British literary publisher) until she was a guest on The Sky Arts Book Show last year (what has happened to that programme? I like Mariella Frostrup as a book host, BBC’s My Life in Books doesn’t seem to have quite the same flow). I thought Diana Athill came across as a wise and slightly offbeat woman, leading a fascinating life. Her book has that same tone, gentle and accepting of herself and other people. She talks a little about her life in the 60’s, her relationships, her liberal attitude towards sex and monogamy and the ‘escapes’ she is cultivating later in her life; gardening, drawing and pottering. She discusses her own and society’s attitudes toward old age and the gift of spending time with the young. Time she says that should be graciously accepted when it is given but never expected. Reading this reminded me of my grandmother who died many years ago – I’m sure she was a treasure trove of wisdom and history and values and she would have loved to have spent some lazy afternoons with me reminiscing about it all. Sadly I was too busy studying, partying and chasing boys to really notice any of that. Anyhow, I think Diana Athill is someone I will explore further – an inspiring woman.

A bonus – I see Persephone books have published her short story collection Midsummer Night in the Workhouse (no 92 in the collection) – an addition to my wish list for sure!

As for fiction reading, I have finished Haruki Murakami’s Norwegian Wood and will post about that soon. I’m half way through Australian author Alex Miller’s Landscape of Farewell – it’s wonderful. Next on the list I think will be something contemporary (ish) – maybe a book by Sophie Hannah as I haven’t read her before and have read lots of good things about her books..

For now I’m going to adopt the approach below and find somewhere cool to flop and rest. The weather here is absolutely stunning at the moment.

Wishing everybody a relaxing and enjoyable reading weekend..

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6 responses to “Touching Base…

  1. What adorable sheep! What a good example of a nice way to be… Lazy as days and shade-lingering to boot! I’ve been hearing mixed reviews about de Botton’s work so I can’t wait to hear what your reactions are. I’ve also never heard of Diana Athill’s life or work, but I’m a firm believer that we can all use a little more wisdo m of the elderly, so I’ll be looking for this one to put on the TBR pile asap! Thanks for a great review!

    • Chelsea – aren’t they cute?! I’ve heard of Alain de Botton before but that’s about it so will be interesting to see how I find him – I actually saw one of his books in the local second hand book shop yesterday but didn’t pick it up for some reason… Do look out for Diana Athill – hope you enjoy her as much as I did..

  2. I have read Somewhere Towards the End and really enjoyed it. The only other one of hers I have read is Stet, which is about her time as an editor at Andre Deutsch, I can recommend it. Like you I’ll be interested to read the short stories Persephone are publishing.

    • Joanne – thank you for the recommendation, I will look out for that. She reminds me of one of those wonderful old characters you find in a great comfort read 0:)

  3. Self help/psychology type books is my guilty pleasure too and I write about them so that I keep a record of them!

    It’s a sin to stay indoors and not go out on this stunning weather. Don’t feel guilty, go out and play! 🙂

    • JoV – thank you – it was beautiful weather wasn’t it?! Glad to hear you like to indulge in the self help/psychology books from time to time as well!

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