Friday, October 28, 2005
So I had the perfect excuse for guiltless book-buying yesterday, plus a 20% voucher from Times - it being my birthday month and all.
Had been eyeing Jane Smiley's 13 ways at Looking at the Novel for weeks. Smiley, herself a highly successful novelist, bases the book on a list of 100 novels which she felt "would illuminate the whole concept of the novel". It's a pretty eclectic list - covering the wide sweep of the novel's history and taking into account literature in translation. (This time I've read 28 and a half of the books on this list! Even more bookguilt!). Several of my favourite books of all time are listed there, but I don't always see eye to eye about them with Ms. Smiley (which is how it should be!)
I'm going to start reading on Chapter 10 A Novel of Your Own, and am looking forward to learning about her struggles with her own novel in Chapter 12 .
Then another book just flew into my hands. I tell you I was powerless.
See, I'm a birdwatcher.
A sometimes birdwatcher. An appaulingly bad birdwatcher. An incredibly lazy birdwatcher. A birdwatcher who prefers to sit in my favourite chair on the verandah and let the birds come to me. (But don't knock that - I had a pair of southern pied hornbills in my garden yesterday!)
But I've hung out with some of the best and most addicted guys in the country and have learned at first hand just how thrilling it can be, particularly when you spot a bird that's a first for you and work out for yourself precisely what it is from the field-guide.
In To See Every Bird on Earth: A Father, A Son and a Lifetime Obsession Dan Koeppel describes his father's quest to compile his 'life list'. Richard Koeppel is an obsessive birdwatcher and has travelled to over 60 countries to spot over 7,000 species (The world total is somewhere around 10,000) at great personal and financial cost. It's an obession I understand and can sympathise with, having spent some joyous Sunday mornings in the wilds with members of MNS.
So, some happy reading to do, once I get past the "have to's" on my shelf. During the Nanowrimo month I think I'd rather not have someone else's fiction in my head anyway ...