Who is Swimming in The Nile?
I walked into a bookshop last weekend, picked up a book and smelled the pages. Strange, right? As is the tendency I have to run my hands down the spines of books in a library or a bookshop, while browsing at lunchtime in the middle of a busy day which otherwise holds no such joy.
I love books. Always have, always will. It delights me that, in addition to the bookstores and the libraries I frequent when I have the time and the inclination to wander outside and find them, I now have the Nile to explore from within the cosy climes of my home or office. Browsing the covers, the excerpts, the reviews – I feel like I am momentarily displaced, in another world for a short time.
So… now I have the added bonus of being able to write for the Nile, on my favourite literary subjects. I can write about the profound impact Judy Blume had on me as a pre-adolescent girl, when Tiger Eyes and Are you there God? It’s Me, Margaret held my full attention. Or how reading a book by Barbara Trapido, Temples of Delight, made me laugh and cry and want to live in Oxford all at the same time. Trapido also induced me to read Di Lampedusa’s The Leopard, and Di Lampedusa in turn inspired me towards Machiavelli. It’s like that with books, isn’t it? One of them leads inexorably towards another. I am in a bookclub, with 11 other women, and after we had read Paul Auster’s Moon Palace last month we all became intensely curious about his wife’s writing – so we read Siri Hustvedt’s Sorrows of an American next, and compared their voices (and gossiped about what their daughter must be like – imagine growing up in the midst of such literary glory…). I can write about Pride and Prejudice, the deep love I have had for that book since well before the BBC series, which I think may be genetically ingrained – my mother used to read sections of it the night before each med-school exam in order to calm her nerves, so a passion for Austen appears to be a family trait.
I studied literature for seven years at University, thinking that by studying it academically I could turn my passion into profession. Alas, it was not to be. I did not want to dismantle books for a living. I have become a lawyer instead, but I still read for pleasure every day.
So it is with immense gratitude to the Nile-boys that I start this column/blog. A space to call my own, in which I can share with all you fellow-book lovers stories from my reading time. I look forward to meeting many of you in cyber-space – I will be reviewing books here, discussing writers, commenting on upcoming literary events (the Sydney Writers’ Festival anyone?), divulging snippets of conversation from my bookclub meetings – and I hope you will join me regularly, to read or to share thoughts of your own.