Just one more reason

Not that I needed another reason for wanting to be in New York City, but here’s one anyway.

I recently noticed an article about an exhibition currently on at The Morgan Library and Museum,  and it caught my eye as a most fascinating collection of insights.  On now, “The Diary: Three Centuries of Private Lives” is a showing of the private diaries of an amazing range of people, John Steinbeck, Bob Dylan, and Queen Victoria to name but a few.  There is even the diary of a true-life pirate; I don’t know why, but I’d love to get my hands on that one.

The thing that really got me thinking was the question of the degree to which these journals were written for general consumption.  I’m not a big fan of the autobiography, so it would be the secrets, the private, the unscripted revelations of these books of all shapes and sizes that would appeal to me.  Do you think anyone really writes a diary thinking that it will never be discovered, never read by anyone?  Beyond secret encryptions and codes (which some of the diary writers in the exhibition did in fact use), surely a diary-keeper must assume that even the most private of diaries might one day be read, especially if written by someone of public interest.  How does this influence what they include and how engineered the entries are?

It’s been many years since I’ve kept a diary, and I’ve lost count of the number of notebooks entitled ‘My Journal’ that have the first couple of  pages completed, have then been put on a shelf or in a cupboard only to be later discovered and greeted with a rye little giggle at myself for trying yet again to document my day-to-days.

But, alas, of late my days have indeed been documented.  Although it lacks the secrecy and the careful consideration that sometimes comes with diary-keeping, social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter have quite nicely recorded (and reported) the dot-points of my days over the last couple of years.  Although I have to say that it lacks the intimacy of a lock-and-key journal, and the therapeutic value of hand-writing thoughts on hard, white paper under hand, it has nonetheless been of great value to myself and to those interested in my comings and goings.  And as with flipping back through the pages of a paper diary, it is extremely interesting to press the ‘Older Post’ button at the bottom of the page, and go back through the days, months and years to track your own path.

I guess at the end of the day, whether it be for our own sake, or for the interest of others, self-documentation must hold a great appeal.  Although the vehicle seems to have changed somewhat, the compulsion remains the same…

Do you keep a diary?  Do you think Facebook, Twitter etc., are the same as diary-keeping?

Who’s diary would you most like to read?


Reading about bears

I spent some time today reading with Oscar, my 3 year old son.  Being a child who knows his own mind, he chose the books from his very eclectic collection of books. We started off by reading one of those movie picture books, horribly abridged and terribly written.  It struck me how hard it was to read out loud, it had no rhythm. It also had horrible big gaps in storyline, particularly obvious if you’ve seen the film a few times (which as it happens, I have…more than a few, try hundreds).  The illustrations grabbed Oscar’s attention, because they’re so familiar, but that was pretty much the extent of its appeal.

What it did do though, was illustrate really well how delightful a well written kids book can be.  The second book chosen for story-time was The Bear’s Lunch, by Pamela Allen.  I love Allen’s work, and both the kids have always been pretty keen on them, and now I understand better why.

It was easy to read, a lot like a poem.  I’d even go so far as to say it was a pleasure to read out loud, almost soothing.  Oscar stopped wiggling (which is rare), and he stopped trying to turn the pages more quickly than I could read – because he was interested, but also because there was just enough going on on each page to hold his attention.

The story itself is really short, very few words and at times quite reliant on illustrations.  I particularly liked the fact that a couple of pages in when the kids get settled for their lunch, you can just see a small black bear in the background – nice tension builder, great for playing ‘spot the bear’ and a lovely little detail.  I’ve often heard children’s book authors talk about how hard it is to tell a whole story in such a small amount of words, and I can see the art in it in this case.

In short, I might be digging around the book bin tonight to find the other Pamela Allen books, and they might get put on high rotation for a few weeks.  Might even have to get a few more…www.pamelaallenbooks.com

Do you guys have a favourite Pamela Allen book?  Any other kids books that are particularly lovely or well received by the kiddlies?

Telling stories

I’m feeling quite pleased with myself, as I’ve just booked my tickets to get along to A Gala Night of Storytelling 2011:Voices, at the Wheeler Centre…


They had an amazing program last year of presentations by local and international writers, and other generally interesting people.  To my disappointment, I didn’t manage to get to any of them – I just looked longingly at the Facebook posts as they came through.

Not so this year, as my schedule is now a little less medical and a little more literary.  Ticket is purchased so I can go and join in on 11 Feb for the centre’s first event of the year.  I’m particularly looking forward to hearing from John Birmingham, Mem Fox and Sonya Hartnett, but the international guests look amazing too – an absolute treat!

A quick reading update…

I’m report writing right now, but I can’t wait to finish up so I can get back to reading The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, by Japanese author Haruki Murakami.  It’s been a while since I’ve been quite so intrigued…I really don’t know where it’s going to end up, wonderful!

If you’re into a bit of fancy, a touch of the surreal, and want to share in a quiet, calm tale of a painful journey, give this book a look I’d say.

I’m half-way through, and as as I said before I really can’t pick how it’s going to resolve, so stay tuned.

But for now, back to the grindstone to get this report finished off and then for a little weekend reading time.

Cheers, Mandi J

I’m a little bit bookish…

What’s it all about?

It’s about that book you like, that thing you’re into, that film you saw…

It’s my intention to go on a bit, putting mildly interesting words out there, and hopefully more often than not sharing beautiful items, clever little readings and general comments on all things a little bit bookish.

I also have a few nerdy tendencies, so I might well stray from time to time into geek territory – please feel free to pull me up if  I go off on too much of a tangent.

Go ahead and share your thoughts on my thoughts, and on the bits and pieces I come across.  Feel free to let us know if you come across anything delightful.

I am very much looking forward to sharing and reading.  I think I’m gonna love my brand new blog and I hope you do too.

Cheers to you, chat soon…Mandi J

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