Staying Alive, Being Alive, Being Human.

First of Three Books. Staying Alive.

It  is really exciting when a new book presents itself through pure luck as opposed to knowing it exists. Books of same author or same theme too. Bought at the same time or months/years apart. In charity shops when they put the books in sections separated by letters of the alphabet are treasure troves for finding a few books by the same author sitting side by side. Or themed sections where you can browse for a new found interest. Or supplement old interests. Opening up and reading with avid interest or excitement present. Even from the smallest extract or sometimes a few sentences from different sections in a book. When you immediately realise ‘This is a treasure moment’. 

If I quoted one small fragment from it to my friends or family over the phone. Their reaction tells me they’ll probably enjoy it. It’s sometimes how I find books myself. A radio review and passages read out. 

David Mitchell’s ‘Cloud Atlas’ was the most impactful. On a radio programme where discussion about the book in a small group was really interesting. Also some passages were read. They weren’t all professional critics. Celebrities included too. I sat listening in the car. I’d arrived at my intended ‘go out and take some photographs’ destination, stopped and sat in the car and simply listened through the whole ‘Cloud Atlas’ section analysis. All the radio group were simply expounding with an enthusiasm that spoke volumes. I was hooked. So immediately went and looked for it. Photography aim on the dunes abandoned. Bought within half an hour at the Aberystwyth Art’s Centre. Actual first port of call. 

Visiting second hand bookshops with newish and vintage books is best. Staying over a few hours and seeking with intent. Amazon, Abe Books, Google Books search and eBay are ‘heard about it and got to get it now‘ styles of buying. Browsing far outweighs this experience of online buying. Online is how I bought ‘Being Alive’ and ‘Being Human’. After purchasing their companion book ‘Staying Alive’ from a vintage/second hand bookstore browse I had to have the others. I found and ordered the two that tie hand in hand and now make a friendly trio. 

Very few times this happens with a need to find and collect a certain theme. Maybe twice/three times a year. You just know that something special exists with a new found author or editor and you have to get a collection there and then. What happens then between the other books’ covers can both delight or disappoint. 

I bought Arturo Perez-Reverte with gusto and they didn’t disappoint. During the 1980s, someone discussed the author he loved…..Robertson Davies. The reader was next to me on a craft stand, so could open up on his discussion with his fascination regarding this author. I then went out and bought and read ‘The Cornish Trilogy’. Not with the same fascinating enthusiasm that the fellow craftsman had presented in his own experience. Yes. They were great books. But no pursuance from myself to get more of his work to read. Now? On typing this blog? I actually do find myself wanting to read more Robertson Davies. Strange that it must have left an underlying impact and certain ambient imprint in my mind. Atmosphere within a book’s pages exists and kicks around for decades from a book’s unique storytelling sometimes. Even if the actual story and content is long forgotten. 

Umberto Eco, Gabriel García Márquez, Andrew Miller. Lots of other authors in actuality leave underlying lasting ‘smoky odour in the mind’ impressions. All have introduced themselves through others remarking in a certain way. You know they were mesmerised by the books. Not just enthusiastic. That produces in myself? Either a clarion call or a sixth sense moment. Get….that….book! The result? Extremes. Yes, they were very right or very wrong. No middle ground because they themselves set the books up to succeed or fail. If they just say ‘Such and such writes some great stuff. Definitely worth trying’. It changes perspective I suppose. 

So I am not expounding these three books at all. Well. Firstly they exist to present poems from dozens on dozens of poets. You may not enjoy poetry. They are thematic in content and therefore focused on the subject of ‘life affirmation’ and you may not be interested in those types of work. But I will say that books that are like this do allow you to go look for more work from a poet or an author who leaps out at you. A poet who writes with the rhythm to words/theme choice that can hook into the same wavelengths that exist in your own mind. An author who, in a short story, presents an atmosphere of kinship akin to your own way of thinking about and enjoyment of storytelling. Both poet and author providing spirit, understanding, a certain flourish and panache to their telling of chosen themes. 

Looking forward to dipping in, out and then back for more in these three. Oh! Found the appropriate hat from my collection which is suitable for wearing whilst reading in the outdoor sunshine filled air too. 

Books that are for keeps. More too in this under the stairs small cupboard here, in another under the stairs even smaller cupboard (we have a dog leg staircase!) and in the Den (study). Need a room only for books really. Not going to happen though.

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