Friday, 16 January 2009

so many books, so little time

Wouldn't it be lovely to read and write all day? I often wonder if changing careers would make me happy. But to what? I read a book recently about a science writer who woke up with her coffee-making alarm clock, pulled out a book (from under the pillow, occasionally) and started to read. When the coffee ran out she left the cosy bed to shower and eat, then return to read, think, reflect, and write. Ah, what a life.

At book club on Wednesday we were talking about If Nobody Speaks of Remarkable Things by Jon McGregor. My friends were not entirely taken by the book. But I loved the way I had to figure out who was speaking and what was taking place. I found the last hundred pages riveting and finished it sitting on a bench in the tube station for 35 minutes, eyes glued to the page and ignoring the trains and people going by. (I believe I am slightly insane! I should have been elsewhere.)

I wish that I had more time for reading. I read my Bible every morning over breakfast and this forces me to slow down a bit and actually take the time to eat and read properly (since four chapters a day takes about 20 minutes). I have been travelling by train recently due to a cold and reading a book on the train is so enjoyable! Sadly I can't continue this when I go back to commuting by bike later this week. In the evenings, Ant likes to watch TV and play Wii, but I like to sit on the couch next to him and read (or surf the net, reading online). But wouldn't it be nice to be paid to read? Or maybe this would just spoil the process. At the moment, I really like just reading and thinking over what I read.

I like to learn as I read and so I try to reflect a bit. I even mark passages in fiction books. They bring up ideas that I wish I had time to mull over. Like this sentence from If Nobody Speaks of Remarkable Things. The narrator is talking about her stilted relationship with her mother. "My mother was polite, and responsible, and didn't always seem to notice I was there." I feel that this might somewhat describe how I am with my students. I am always polite and try to be consistent. I build routines so they know what to expect and how to succeed. But I am not really that emotionally invested in them and, to be honest, I don't always care much about them. I like the ideas of learning and I became a teacher because I love maths and teaching, not because I love children. The book made me realise this about myself and makes me want to explore this idea a bit more. Should I cultivate my students more? Get to know them a bit better (other than as mathematicians)? Try to notice them a bit?

Our new book club book is Then We Came to the End by Joshua Ferris. It's a tale of modern cubicle life and less to my taste. But it makes me think that every person's voice has something interesting to say. A story about an employee, Brizz, who was laid off and then soon died makes the narrators say that they hardly knew him.
Goodness, why had nobody stopped him? Why has we never, not one of us, stopped, turned around, and said, Knock, knock. Sorry to interrupt you when you're proofreading, Brizz. Why had we not gone in, sat down?... How many times did we end up down at our own offices, doing pretty much the same thing, preparing for some deadline now come and gone, while Brizz lived and breathed with all the answers a hundred feet down the hall?
Thoughts like this, and the endless stories of the mundane life of an advertising copywriter, make me want to form more meaningful relationships. Let's face it, life is very mundane sometimes. Knowing God and loving one another seem like the only meaningful things sometimes.

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