Being a Reader of Books

Firstly, today is a sunny day. It is so strange to see rays of sunlight spill into this room, so I wanted to make a little note of that. Secondly, the new Winter Knitty is up. If I weren't still working on David's sweater, I would cast on for Mr Darcy for him.

Thirdly, I just finished reading AS Byatt's The Children's Book this morning and I have all these thoughts running through my head.

Yesterday I wrote briefly about whether I connect with favourite authors because they have shaped my ways of thinking or I connect with these authors because they mirror the way I think? The egg or the chicken?

When I go on one of my solitary walks, I often get sentences or lines of poetry running through my head. Sometimes I just "hear" fragments, other times I get an entire stanza. The regular visitors include Dante Gabriel Rossetti's Silent Noon, DH Lawrence's Gloire de Dijon, and John Donne's Holy Sonnet XIV. Most often, though, I hear TS Eliot. It runs the gamut from his most famous works like Prufrock and the Waste Land to lesser known pieces from Inventions of the March Hare. I view the world through words and many of these words came from Eliot. I am vaguely amused by this - after all, I am not the first nor will be the last to define myself using others' words.

And so AS Byatt. I first read one of her books one week into my university years. All these years later, Byatt is one of those very few authors whose entire oeuvre I have read. I connect with her books - they are filled with solitary bookish women surrounded by a far too material world. Last night I watch an interview with her and closed my eyes when she said: "All I ever wanted was to live a life of the mind." In a world defined by emotions, feelings and exteriors, I am drawn towards her books of ideas, thoughts and interiors.

The Children's Book is exquisite. It is a messy book insofar as it describes a messy world and also is also slightly messy structurally. A proper review would be far too long - you can find good reviews and synopses elsewhere - but it suffices to say that I really liked it. I re-read the final fifteen pages twice and I suspect I will revisit the novel just as I have revisited several of Byatt's other novels.

But am I drawn towards Byatt because I am a solitary bookish woman (bound by class) who just wants to live a life of the mind? Or have I become a solitary bookish woman because I spent my formative years reading books by AS Byatt (and EM Forster)?

Thoughts of a dry brain in a chilly season.