Sunday, April 25, 2010

Howards End is on the Landing (II)

Some passages that I would like to take down :

The start of the journey (a year of reading from home) also coincided with my decision to curtail my use of the internet, which can have an insidious, corrosive effect. Too much internet usage fragments the brain and dissipates concentration so that after a while, one's ability to spend long, focused hours immersed in a single subject becomes blunted. Information comes pre-digested in small pieces, one grazes on endless ready-meals and snacks of the mind, and the result is mental malnutrition.[pg2]

There is nothing essentially sacred about a book just because it is printed on paper and bound between covers. Only look at the rubbish available in book form. Some are quickly read, been, gone. You don't read many thrillers twice. Others served a temporary practical need. ..... You don't have to pay its rent just because it is a book.[pg7]

Today's crime novel and police procedural is far more graphic than the detective story ever was and yet there is an exhumation in The Bellona Club which, with its subtle suggestions and hints of little things heard and seen as the men go about their grim work, is somehow, infinitely more unsettling than the full-on description by one of today's popular writers of a headless, handless, disembowelled murder victim.[pg15]

How many thrillers can you re-read? They are disposable, open and shut, throwaway, leave-on-a-train books. To stand up to years of repeated readings there has to be more than blood and thunder, especially as, once you know what happens next, you lose the element of surprise.[pg107]

On my travels round the house in search of just the right book for tonight, I passed so many reasons why the book works as well as it ever did. Tall thin reasons. Huge, heavy, illustrated ones. Small, neat, square hardbacks and pocket-sized paperbacks. Reasons with drawings, with photographs, with colour. Shiny ones. Matt ones. Cheap ones, expensive ones. Chunky ones. Some smell musty. Some have the signature of the author. A few are dedicated by the author, either to one of us or to someone unknown and long dead. Some have pencil marks scribbled in the margin. ......

No one will sign an electronic book, no one can annotate in the margin, no one can leave a love letter casually between the leaves. It is true that if I had no books but only a small, flat, grey hand-held electronic device, I would only need a very small house and how tidy that would be with just a small, flat, grey ... [pg77]

(I wholeheartedly agree with her.)

All writers are asked about their influences and it is hard question to answer correctly because almost everything we read is an influence, and usually quite unconsciously. Other people's ways of writing surface in one's own years later, influences but barely recognisable as such. But a few are known and those few are the ones that strike a chord at the moment of reading.[pg142]

(Isn't it the same? Everything in this world, big or small, obviously or unknowingly, has some affect on us, and eventually shapes who we are. Our very own personality that developed gradually through experiences, is very much a large part from the environment we are in.)

I LOVE THE BOOK. I love the feel of a book in my hands, the compactness of it, the shape, the size. I love the feel of paper. The sound it makes when I turn the page. I love the beauty of print on paper, the patterns, the shapes, the fonts. I am astonished by the versatility and practicality of The Book. It is so simple. It is so fit for its purpose. It may give me mere content, but no e-reader will ever give me that sort of added pleasure.[pg178]

I love her words. They are charming and full of passion. All chapters are fascinating, but I couldn't help to favor Bad Bed-Fellows the most. Intrigued by a novella about the perils and dangers of books and book owning, The Paper House by Carlos Maria Domínguez, the author inevitably made a careful observation on how her books were placed. A tall book shelters a small book, a huge folio bullies a cowering line of Quartos. A child's nursery rhyme book does not have the language in which to speak to a Latin dictionary. Chaucer does not known the words in which Henry James communicates but here they are forced to live together, forever speechless. Does Elizabeth Bowen find Swift congenial company ? If I set Richard Dawkins beside the Oxford Companion to the Old Testament, will there be the sound of raised voices ?

Oh gosh !  Looking at my own bookshelves now, should I re-assess the arrangement to find my books some good bedfellows, the least a companion to have a good starting. The main problem is that I do not have much space to play with. Most of them, willingly or unwillingly, are squashed together tightly to provide more opportunity to add in another fellow. Alas !

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Howards End is on the Landing

Despite my recently out-of-control busy working hours (average 12 hours per day), and hardly getting enough sleep especially on weekdays, I am happy that I'd managed to finish reading this engaging book about books.  Though it took me a little longer than I'd anticipated, with snail speed of 2 chapters after midnight before bed.

The book by Susan Hill, an author I didn't know at that point of time, immediately grabbed my attention after skimming through the opening paragraphs, knowing that this is definitely my cup of cuppa. It proves me correct.

IT BEGAN LIKE THIS. I went to the shelves on the landing to look for a book I knew was there. It was not. But plenty of others were and among them I noticed at least a dozen I realized I had never read.

Sounds familiar ? Next ...
I pursued the elusive book through several rooms and did not find it in any of them, but each time I did find at least a dozen, perhaps two dozen, perhaps two hundred, that I never read.

Now, this is getting to my nerve. I have quite a number of books put under my to-read list, perhaps two to three dozens, but still no sign of doing it as yet. Shame on me. Next ...
And then I picked out a book I had read but had forgotten I owned. And another and another. After that came the books I had read, knew I owned and realised that I wanted to read again.

Alas. Me too. Next ...
I found the book I was looking for in the end, but by then it had become far more than a book. It marked the start of a journey through my own library.

That's it. Buy the book, and I did.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

outside Esplanade

I like these few photos taken somewhere outside our landmark "The Durian" by a friend.  The light installation of various musicians is a nice touch to boost up the surroundings.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Circle Line Open House

Prior to the full operation of another 11 more stations, from Tai Seng to Dhoby Ghaut on April 17, an open house was held last Sunday to give the public a sneak preview of these new stations. Everyone could hop on the train at any of the stations free-of-charge. Here are some photos of Stadium station and Promenade station.

We alighted at Bras Basah Station for Singapore Art Museum which was also open to the public free that day.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

April Purchases

Some more new and used books I'd bought the last two days :

English Books
Tim Burton (Hard Paperback)
Publisher: The Museum of Modern Art, New York (November 12, 2009)
ISBN-13: 978-0870707605

The Red Shoes - Illustrated Ed (Hardcover)
Illustrator : Sun Yung Yoo
Publisher: AMMO Books (November 10, 2008)
ISBN-13: 978-1934429068

Japanese Used Books

SHIBATA, Aiko 柴田 愛子 (著), ITO, Hideo 伊藤 秀男 (イラスト)
Publisher : Poplar ポプラ社 (2001/12)
ISBN-13: 978-4591070444
(2004/04 12th printing)

Koshiro HATA はた こうしろう (著)
Publisher : KAISEI-SHA 偕成社 (2004/07)
ISBN-13: 978-4033313405
(2006/07 8th printing)

おとうさん Father
AKIYAMA, Tomoko 秋山とも子 (著)
Publisher : 褔音館書店 (1984/6/1)

スイミー Swimmy
Leo Lionni レオ・レオニ (著), 谷川 俊太郎 (翻訳)
Publisher : 好学社 (1969/4/1)
ISBN-10: 4769020015
ISBN-13: 978-4769020011
(2000/09 65th printing)

さかな Fishes
Brian Wildsmith ブライアン・ワイルドスミス (著)
Publisher : らくだ出版 (1971/01)
ISBN-10: 4897770068
ISBN-13: 978-4897770062
(2001/03 23rd printing)

とり Birds
Brian Wildsmith ブライアン・ワイルドスミス (著)
Publisher : らくだ出版 (1971/01)
ISBN-10: 4897770076
ISBN-13: 978-4897770079
(2001/03 20th printing)

I like Brian's illustrations. I have a number of his picture books such as Bear's Adventure, Daisy, Goat's Trail, Wild Animals plus others, and am very happy to add in another two.

妖怪おりがみ Yokai Origami
Publisher : 講談社 (2008/4/19)
ISBN-10: 4062617625
ISBN-13: 978-4062617628

This cute book teach you how to fold 24 'popular' monsters of Japan. See when I feel like converting a corner of my bedroom into a yokai world. Haha!