Thursday, December 30, 2010

Thursday Thoughts...

The best moments in reading are when you come across something - a thought, a feeling, a way of looking at things - which you had thought special and particular to you. And now, here it is, set down by someone else, a person you have never met, someone even who is long dead. And it is as if a hand has come out, and taken yours.
Alan Bennett

Alan Bennett puts it so beautifully - that sense of connection we get when we come across somebody who has managed to crystallise and express our own thoughts in a wonderful way. I am often awed by how perfectly some people can express themselves; they capture the essence of the thing, or find a way into something that suddenly illuminates it and allows you to understand or comprehend it more fully.

I think he also reinforces for me the idea (that seems to keep repeating in these book-y Th Ths) that books and writing help you to know that you are not alone.

One of our favourite book group reads this year was Alan Bennett's "The Uncommon Reader" and throughout our discussions we kept focusing on how beautifully he wrote. We kept reading out to each other favourite lines or passages that were exquisite in their simplicity or their ability to elegantly skewer somebody!

I think his idea that it is as if a hand has come out, and taken yours is a beautiful way of thinking about an author's attempts to reach their audience.


  1. Fiona, I love this quote, and the irony that by writing this post you are doing exactly what it describes, reaching a hand out by describing something so familiar to me! In a society that seems ironically more and more isolating the more "connected" we become, it's good to know that there are still scenes as you describe, reading passages from a book out loud to each other, simply because they are so good they have to be shared that way! I can recall one quiet morning reading a Nabokov novel in my bedroom while my mother read the newspaper in the livingroom and having to get up several times, book in hand, and walk down the long hall announcing "you have to hear this!!" and then reading some stunning turn of phrase or passage that left us both with mouth agape. Books are such private experiences, and yet they bring us together across continents, centuries, or even just the length of an apartment!

    Thanks for this post, F. All the best to you.

  2. Thanks G/TT - I'm glad the hand reached you! I loved the image of you up one end and your mum at the other and the physical walking down to share the words - not just yelling. It's wonderful when books touch that part of you that you HAVE to share. Best to you (as Patti would say!) F


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