Friday, September 17, 2010

Books to the right of me, books to the left of me

 For the last three and a half years my reading has been what my editor Susan Wyndham of the SMH calls 'purpose-driven'; when you read four novels a week for review, pausing only to shoehorn in the entire oeuvre of Peter Temple in order to interview him for Writers' Week, or to write a full-length review or essay, or to read a book written by a friend, it leaves you very little time to read anything else apart from a few pages of crime fiction every night, for Reading in Bed Before the Light Goes Out is sacred to books read entirely for pleasure, although I must say I prefer Val McDermid's Tony Hill books to this new one, and am looking forward to moving on to Tana French and Reginald Hill.

In spite of which, the house is full to bursting with books, but like most people who live in such houses, it doesn't stop me buying more books, and today I went a bit mad and bought or borrowed about ten, including (against my better judgement) a new Kathy Reichs, a rather sensational-looking history of true crime in Australia, the Salman Rushdie collection of essays and criticism Imaginary Homelands, and the most wonderful history of photography in South Australia from the 1840s to the 1940s, which features a double fold-out reproduction of Townsend Duryea's magnificent fourteen-plate Panorama of Adelaide from 1865.

[NB this definitely counts as work done on the Adelaide book, especially since the Barr Smith Library has changed beyond recognition since the last time I was in it and it took me ages to find things and figure out how to work unfamiliar machines and so on. Barcode schmarcode.]

Anyway, from among this largesse, the award for Quotation of the Day has to go to Peter Morton from Flinders U for this observation from After Light: A History of the City of Adelaide and its Council, 1878-1928. Of the period pre-1898, he writes:
Then there were the massive problems of contaminated food and drink, and especially water, meat and milk. The quality of all three in the city was so dubious that it seemed the only citizen likely to live a natural span was a beer-drinking vegetarian.

No comments:

Post a Comment