Welcome to The Book Bower!
My name is Caroline and it would make sense to kick things off by explaining what on earth I’m doing here. Why am I blogging about books?
The answer isn’t as short or as simple as you might expect it to be. Something that might become a custom round here as I do have a knack of hideously over-complicating the straightforward!
I have been writing about books for a long time but I have never been brave enough to blog before. Bit shy; tendency to think my ideas are a bit daft. The usual. Anyway, in my shamefully untidy and overstuffed desk is a set of notebooks containing my jottings on all of the novels I read between 2003 and 2009. During this period, my first action on completing a book was to write down my thoughts, ideas and impressions of it. The main motivation for this was to somehow counter the ephemeral nature of reading: to fix my immediate impressions of a novel before they disappeared or were altered by time (more of that later). The process of writing helped me to tease out my thoughts. Often, a novel creates a series of hazy impressions and you need to step back and reflect in order to see the whole image. So that is my first reason for wanting to blog about books (well, the second I suppose after the first, massively obvious reason: I really like books). Blogging will help me untangle – and to share – my thoughts on the books I read.
Now for my second reason. I am going to go a bit philosophical now; I really hope I don’t sound silly. Right. The main purpose of those book-related jottings now is to bring me back in touch with my past selves (I know. Are you still there?!). Please, allow me to explain. During a period of idleness, I decided to update my Goodreads bookshelf, going back as far as I could. As most of you will probably know, as well as allowing you to record what you have read, the site lets you review books and give them star ratings. As I retreated further into my reading past, I had to rely on my notes in order to decide upon a star rating. This is where things got interesting. Books I had fond memories of reading and planned to award 4 or 5 stars received scathing reviews from my earlier self. Just as oddly, books I could barely remember were honoured in glowing terms. For those familiar with the plays of Samuel Beckett, things took rather a Krapp’s Last Tape turn.
The moral of the waffle is that my book-related scribblings and postings are important because they record a little of me as I was and help me map how I change for better or for dimmer. Such musings also shed a little light on the reading process. Why do I recall Victoria Hislop’s The Island so fondly but dismiss it as trash in my notes? Perhaps because I have a treasured memory of a lazy Sunday afternoon spent reading the novel in my very first flat. Freedom, independence, indulgence. It would seem that, over time, the way in which we judge and remember the books we have read is informed by far more than just the words on a page. Some books stay with us and frame our recollections of particular periods in our lives, and it isn’t always the books we consider to be most worthy or satisfying at the time.
To conclude, then, I reckon there is more to blogging about books than just indulging in and sharing a passion for the printed word. Let me know what you think!