Autumn Reflections on Summer High Jinks: Part Two

In my last post, I wrote about the fun and frolics of this year’s summer, with a promise of further reflections about my souvenir stack of books.

Yum!

As I mentioned previously, I try not to bring physical books into our apartment these days. We have just about enough space for the books currently in our library, and not too much more. I mostly try to read e-books for convenience these days. But it is hard to resist such delicious treats sometimes.

All of the books in the stack are for reading. Some are also for looking at. They all, just by chance, have marvellously tactile qualities, enhancing the physical experience of reading all the more.

I bought Felix CulpaDrawing Water and Dull Margaret after attending author events at the Edinburgh International Book Festival. Jeremy Gavron’s novel is about the search for a troubled boy recently released from prison. The text has been woven like a rich tapestry with lines from 100 other books. As a result, it reads like a beautiful prose poem, full of wonder and depth. Gavron gave a fascinating and very personal talk about how he came to publish such a work, including several readings. I urged him to create an audio version when he signed my copy – fingers crossed.

Tania Kovats hosted a thought-provoking event in which she talked to Maria Popova (of BrainPickings fame) about the pioneering environmentalist, Rachel Carson and her seminal work The Sea Around Us. The discussion ranged widely, touching on issues such as climate change, women being taken seriously (or not), and the power of art and poetry to illuminate complex issues. In Drawing Water, Kovats has curated a wonderful collection of art and writings from all kinds of people who are searching for something via the medium of water: map-makers, whalers, engineers etc. It is the most gorgeous collection and one which I will be dipping in to forever.

Before attending the event with actor Jim Broadbent and illustrator Dix, I was not sure about their book Dull Margaret, with its rather brutal graphic depiction of the title character’s bleak existence. Having heard them talk about generously about the development process, with Jim Broadbent at his lyrical best, expanding eloquently about his love for the beleaguered Margaret, I just had to buy a copy. I am only slowly becoming more acquainted with graphic novels and it is a fascinating journey.

 

Further visual feasts were in store, with Roger Billcliffe’s talk about ‘The Art of the Four’, namely Charles Rennie Mackintosh, his wife Margaret MacDonald, her sister Frances MacDonald and James Herbert McNair. His recent book about the work of these four friends and their relationship with the rest of the art world is a sumptuous read as well as being utterly absorbing visually. I love Margaret’s work in particular and it was such a pleasure to hear more about these important artists.

And more visual stimulation arrived via Fiona Watson and Piers Dixon, who spoke entertainingly about their work on the relationship between Scottish history and the landscape around us. I am fascinated by the geology of Scotland, as well as being totally in love with this gorgeous part of the world. I am looking forward to spending many hours pouring over the amazing pictures and brilliant insights in their book.

 

Kate Davies’ book Handywoman is a must-read for anyone interested in the life- and health-enhancing features of creativity. It is no secret that I am passionate about the importance of creativity in our lives, whatever form it may take. I therefore also love the ethos behind the Knitsonik Stranded Colourwork Playbook, which celebrate the ordinary and everyday through stranded knitting. I know both these books will provide much inspiration.

 

I picked up these two books in the Book Festival shop while kidding myself that I was just having a browse and did not intend to buy anything.  Matthew Herbert’s novel takes place over the course of just an hour. I think its reading experience may be similar to Jeremy Gavron’s novel in that it is a non-traditional, poetic treatment of words as experiences and emotions. Ziyad Marar’s book takes a look at that endlessly fascinating topic of how we judge, and are judged. Once I had picked it up, I could not put it down again because the cover feels so gorgeous. But more seriously, it chimes directly with the themes I am currently exploring with my sister on our Bald as Brass Blog.

 

As for these Victoria Crowe books, well that deserves a whole post to itself – the third and final part of this mini-series, coming soon….

 

In the meantime, let me close this post with the book on the top of my pile – Dear Heart, by Jenny Davis. This is one of those books which feels like a sacred and rare jewel in the hand. It was recommended by my dear friend Gallivanta, who wrote:

‘In 1988 Jenny Davis stumbled upon dozens of letters her aunt, Wynne, had written to her young soldier husband Mickey during World War II. Many of the letters remained unopened, still bearing the mark of their tragedy, a war office stamp, “No Trace”. This book is the story of an exceptional love as told by those letters written over a four year period from 1941 – first daily, then weekly. Wynne received only two replies and yet she poured out her hopes and reassurances and titbits of news from the home front. In 1945, at the end of the war, Wynne received both the unopened letters, and the news that Mickey had died in 1943 in Malaya, in a Japanese prisoner of war camp.’

I just had to get my own copy and how glad I am that I did. I am of course looking forward to delving into the story. It also acts as a mark of friendship across the miles. How I love this online community of ours! 🙂

 

Snooker Loopy? Oh yes….

As a common ‘ice-breaker’ at the start of management training courses, participants are asked to reveal something about themselves to the group that would not be immediately obvious. It is a while since I have had to undergo such rigours, but my most common answer was that I was a mega Star-Trek fan. This usually prompted discussion about which series was the best (Voyager, obviously, followed closely by Next Generation).

If I was feeling particularly chirpy and strong, however, I would offer up another guilty secret – I am a huge armchair snooker fan. Now, I realise that this is not everyone’s cup of tea. My step-father, for example, has been known to refer to it as ‘International Watching Paint Dry’ lol!

One of the reasons I am such a fan is because it is the perfect TV viewing to accompany any knitting or crochet activity. I can sit happily needling or hooking away, listing to the dulcet tones of the commentators, and looking up as and when something interesting appears to be happening. It is particularly pleasing, therefore, when the World Snooker Championships come round each Spring. With just over two whole weeks of intensive snooker action, it’s great for making progress with projects and this year is no exception.

In recent times, most of my crafting time has been devoted to my ‘spring blossom throw’, which I love. This is the latest position – a nice spurt of growth since the last post when this was mentioned:

 

So I thought it was about time I gave some crochet love to my ‘Mystical Lanterns’ project. I first introduced this to the blog a little while ago. It’s been great to really start moving forward with this one. As I said previously, I love the method of selecting colours (in essence, picking the next ball of yarn at random, regardless of the consequences). Overall, this is generating some fabulous colour combinations. But I must confess to the odd ‘fix’ every now and again. Here’s an example.

This motif just needed its final row – you can see the two colour choices I had available:

Either colour would have finished off the motif very nicely. But I felt like being a bit more jazzy. So I briefly rebelled against the colour-picking-system (oh, the naughtiness!) and…

went for the gold! Aren’t I just the little devil.

As you can see, I have nearly finished 4 sets of motifs, which I already adore. Only another 11 sets to go. I hope you agree, it’s going to be gorgeous!!

 

And since I am in such a jolly mood, let me finish with this – an oldie but goodie!! 🙂