I have terrible discipline when it comes to books. I have at least 3 or 4 going at once, and usually at least one of them is something I’ve read before. For instance, right now on my bedside table (the one on the right side) I have The Little Red Riding Book, Down Under by Bill Bryson (read before, at least twice), 33 1/3 Greatest Hits (a birthday gift from the boy) and now, owning to a probably ill-advised trip to Ariel Bookshop on Saturday, Gut Symmetries by Jeanette Winterson.
Which one I pick up will depend on the mood I’m in when I go to bed. I’m almost scared to pick up the Winterson book – once I do, I know everything (including sleep) will probably be forgotten until it’s done. I pick up Bill Bryson when I need to feel like the world is full of sunshine and witty anecdotes. I pick up 33 1/3 when I need soul food and want a short grab to read and finish in one night. The writing book is great, and well written, but a bit of hard work. There’s only so much grammar your brain can take at the end of the day.
We were talking on the weekend about making time for reading. Making time. It’s the thing I fret about most. Reading, particularly novels, just seems so frivolous. There’s always email inboxes to wade through and blog posts to write and new Wolf Parade albums to listen to (downloading is bad kids okay??!!). But I think you need to find the things that help your mind breathe, and make at least a little time for them. Because if you can’t find a good 4 hours to sit in the sun contemplating life, 45 minutes of this –
This new world weighs a yatto-gram.
But everything is trial-size; tread-on-me tiny or blurred-out-of-focus huge. There are leaves that have grown as big as cities, and there are birds that nest in cockleshells. On the white sand there are long-toed clawprints deep as nightmares, and there are rock pools in hand-hollows finned by invisible fish.
Trees like skyscrapers, and housing as many. Grass the height of hedges, nuts the swell of pumpkins. Sardines that would take two men to land them. Eggs, pale-blue-shelled, each the weight of a breaking universe.
And, underneath, mushrooms soft and small as a mouse ear. A crack like a cut, and inside a million million microbes wondering what to do next. Spores that wait for the wind and never look back. Moss that is concentrating on being green.
– might just do.
I get to see her speak on May 20 as part of Sydney Writers Festival. I’ve never been to anything to do with the festival before, and she is giving the opening address at the Opera House. I heard her speak once on Sunday Arts, and one thing she said about art being ‘an air pocket in an upturned boat’ has stayed with me all this time and really changed the way I look at a lot of things. I can’t wait to hear her speak again.