Cheeky Opticians and Marmite Books

I had a bit of birthday money, and before my job properly ends, I decided to buy a couple of new books to do my bit for the publishing industry.

And this week it has also struck me that without the Guardian’s investigation of Cambridge Analytica, would there have even been raid on their offices? It’s scary when the law follows the journalism and not the other way around, so I decided I’d buy my books from the Guardian Bookshop, as funding them seems more important than ever.

Lately I’ve been in the mood for nature-heavy books, which can be beautiful, inspiring reading. However, on a Venn diagram there can also be a cross over with ‘welcome to my nervous breakdown’ books. This can be fine, and often inspiring. Strength drawn from the ancient wonder of trees and ducks and stuff. But these are proper Marmite books, as if the author is not likable or spinning the most profound prose ever, it’s hard to spend hours in their mind.

Strange Labyrinth by Will Ashton seems to be essentially a man writing a book about trying to write a book. It has a bit of a mid-life crisis vibe, with lots of free association that can be fascinating but also runs the risk of being tiresome if the tangent is one of little interest. The book he was initially writing involved lots of research, the results of which I feel he has tipped into this book like a box of strange oversize buttons and used walking in the woods as a shoelace to sew them together. His insights about himself and aging are the most interesting. I nod along at his eye problem that no optician can fix. Mine told me they were getting worse as they were getting dryer, as happens with peri-menopause, computer use and modern living. And of course, old age and eye-muscle deterioration. ‘Well, you are over forty, now.’  Thanks, pal. I have taken to resting my eyes. Oh, the line we thought was an excuse used grandparents while pretending to not be asleep.

I’ve only read the first few pages of Strange Labyrinth to see which book to start first, and A Line Made By Walking by Sara Baume won. It’s a novel about a young woman contemplating her life in her dead grandmother’s turbine-dwarfed cottage while taking pictures of dead animals (it’s fair to say I shouldn’t be asked to write blurbs for books). So far I can’t put it down, lines keep chiming with me in a profound way, and so an over-excited review will follow.

Ste has recently been posting pictures of his pets, and it occurred to me that I have one of those furry things I could pimp for blogging purposes. Black cats are notoriously hard to photograph, but here she is, on my bed, where she is not allowed. However, as a cat in Scotland, she knows better than to let a patch of sun pass her by. This is her ‘Why did that woman who’s over forty suddenly plonk a book in front of me’ look.

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