I am a little bit weird about books. It comes from a good place, a place of love teetering on obsession and started at an early age.
The first thing I ever saved up for and bought with my very own pocket money (apart from the 50p for sweets on sunday) was a book. It was a paperback version of “The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe” by C. S. Lewis and I still have it. Slightly yellowed, a tad musty but in pristine condition. Because part of my weirdness about books is keeping them looking brand new. I can’t lend out books or borrow from others because there are some pretty strict rules of engagement I follow.
- Never buy a book with a sticker on it. Impossible to remove them without leaving a residue. This upsets me.
- Writing or marking in a book is a definite no-no.
- Never crack the spine. Read through small crack, open just enough to be able to see words in the middle. Can’t see them? That’s what your imagination is for.
- Bending the front cover back makes my heart stop. Never do that.
- Get a bookmark. Folding back the corner of the page is not funny or clever.
Friends of mine roll back the front cover, flip casually through the pages, let them get ripped, or covered with spilt tea, leaving biscuit crumbs clogging up the middle. My eyes twitch if I see it happen. But I’ve mellowed in my old age, and my book OCD has evolved slightly. Because now I do break the spine – but precisely. In three very distinct moves. Once right down the middle (and I often check the page numbers to ensure this), then in quarters. Plus I had to find a way to study books at school. I managed to achieve this with a ruler to underline and coloured ballpoint pens. A series of coded annotations followed, much of which I can’t decipher today.
I just can’t help myself. These elaborate rituals all help to make my reading experience that bit more special, a little richer, and often the most coveted part of the day.
I read to be transported, to learn more, to discover something, to sob, to laugh out loud, to feel angry, to be surprised and absolutely to be entertained. Because above all I’m looking for a great story. In fact, it must have influenced the way I photograph because what I love to capture is the story of people, the relationships families share and the characters that make them unique. So when I began this blog and got to reveal the story alongside the image, I found a way to combine two things that I love – storytelling and photography.
So in this new year, I’ve decided to go a step further and indulge a little more with an online book group to which you are all cordially invited. Because I can’t see you reading, you are free to break spines at will and scatter food crumbs on a whim. I won’t hold it against you. Promise. Maybe a little bit. But I would really love you to read along with me, enjoying 11 books in 2011 in the 11.11 book group online. Why 11? Because I’ve started too late to fit in 12. But leads nicely on to the much anticipated 12.12 book group. Almost as if it had been planned.
Each month I’ll be posting the book I’ve selected and then asking you back to have a chat about it in the comments section below. Apart from book 1, where I have cheated, I won’t have read them myself because I want the fun of discovering them at the same time as you. So please feel free to suggest future book selections – just make it something you haven’t read before. It could be on your pile of “to read” at home, a great story your friend said you just have to read or just a book you’ve always intended to open.
Fancy joining in? Then here is book 1…
Book 1 is David Nicholls’ ONE DAY. It’s the story of two people, Emma and Dexter, who meet for the first time on the day of their graduation, 15th July 1988. Each chapter returns to them a year later on the exact same date, following them over the course of 20 years. It’s a story of the life you want to lead and the road you end up taking. I won’t say too much about it, but it wouldn’t be book 1 for nothing.
I kept hearing about it on the radio or in the papers. Everyone seemed to love the idea of it, how the story was constructed and it seemed to lend itself very well to a book to read at the beginning of a new year. When you often look back, a bit nostalgic, wondering where the time has gone, before spinning round to face another year and imagine where you might be headed.
So let’s meet back here in a month and see what we think of it. You might love it or hate it – but I’d love to know what you think.
I doubt you’ll hate it though. Sophie was unimpressed by the lack of pictures throughout the book. But she tells me it tastes quite nice. Perhaps I should add No. 6 to the list. Absolutely no chewing on the book.
If there was a red ribbon stretching across the screen, I’d be cutting it and declaring the 11.11 book group well and truly open. Now grab the book and get reading!