Thursday, October 20, 2011

Thursday Thoughts...

A book reads the better which is our own, and has been so long known to us, that we know the topography of its blots, and dog's ears, and can trace the dirt in it to having read it at tea with buttered muffins.

Charles Lamb, Last Essays of Elia, 1833

I think this is a lovely thought about how some books on our shelves can be navigated. Any book that has already been read once or twice brings with it at each new reading, a story, a narrative of where and when you read it previously. Perhaps the tell-tale marks are there; perhaps they are not so obvious...

Each time you re-read it, you may recall where you were, what was happening and how it made you feel; how it comforted you; how it may have given you a sense of courage; or how it made you angry enough to get up and take action! Sometimes you might just recall that you were sad, or that were happy at that time - it may just bring back memories of times ago, not necessarily remind you of what the book did or didn't do for you.

I don't have too many books that I can navigate through their blots, or marks or food spillages such as tea with buttered muffins, except my recipe books.

My favourite pages are all splattered with ingredients that go into their making, tomato sauces that boiled and bubbled, butter that was dropped and left grease stains; bits of flour here and there.  It wouldn't need a detective to work out which recipes in some books were favourites that's for sure.

I think that books bring with them a history of you as a reader, whenever you re-read them, and it's nice to take your younger self along for the journey the second or third time around.

©2011 Fiona Dempster - rusty drops on paper.


  1. that's a good looking rusty splotch!

  2. Thought provoking and lovely to read Fiona. The book which inspired me the most was Pilgrim at Tinker Creek by Annie Dillard. She is a macro lens as words - wonderful. You may know of it. Beautiful stains! :)

  3. Ahh rusty blots and blobs are fine things Ronnie!

    Louise - I have that very book on my bedside table for dipping into. Her ability to spend the time with the world and see it and describe - beyond compare. Go well!

  4. Fiona, you have such a way with words. My cookbooks are the same way: Easy to see which recipes have been used over and over. This splotch/picture is wonderful!

  5. That's so true! It is the recipe books that become maps of the way we have come!

  6. Fiona, I have a favourite book that I use for identifying the moths we find. I bought it second hand and chose it because it contains the handwritten annotations of its original owner. I love seeing someone else's hand and thoughts on the pages in a beautiful script. Lesley

  7. my copy of rita buchanan's a weaver's garden; i often took it to the garden with me, as i worked and planned. it's a little dirty and gritty, and dog eared and tattered. i love it more for all that.

  8. Fiona, you always manage in this blog to introduce to me a whole new way of looking at and thinking about mark-making, whether it is allowing rust to permeate a cloth, or observing the maps left behind by burrowing insects. And now I am thinking of my own recipe cards carrying in their smudges and spatterings the history of each making of the dish, where I was, and how life was at the time. Art is everywhere! Lovely!

  9. All sorts of memories flood back when favourite books are revisited. I have some with the pages chewed by a previous pet, a budgie, who sat on top of it while I read. Turning the pages gave him a bit of a start.

  10. Thanks Jane - its was fun creating rusty blots; and I know what you mean about recipe books - I should laminate some of mine!

    So true Leslie - maps of our meals.

    Oh Lesley I agree wholeheartedly; I love other people's notes and jottings and underlinings...they add so much.

    Velma - that's a lovely thought - the book with dirt and grit; such a faithful companion in a way, so many days shared.

    G/TT - thank you! I'm glad you find some new ways when you pop over! Mark-making and art is everywhere in a way isn't it and we're lucky we can see it. Recipe books and cards - so many favourites and staunch supporters, comforters...

    Jo I love this! Memories do come back as you read and re-read; and to be reminded of a budgie munching pages as you went - too perfect!


I appreciate your thoughts and comments; thanks for taking the time.