A new week is here, and I’m back after days of travelling and exploring to catch up on the familiar. Just in time for the World Cup! I had returned over the weekend but it’s been raining here so heavily that the computer was down, the television kept going blank, and my phone network was shaky as well. There went all my “catching up” plans! I haven’t watched much of football (we call it “football” here. “Soccer” for those familiar with the other word) in the last couple of days, and managed to stay tuned through newspaper updates. (Three cheers to simpler modes of information when electronic gadgets let you down.) Anyone else keenly following the matches? Even Google doodles have caught the World Cup fever. Here’s hoping for some stellar matches and performances in the coming days.
I belong to a community called “Postcrossing“. We are a worldwide bunch who call ourselves “postcrossers” and still believe in the antediluvian art of writing letters by hand and posting them in the real world through a good old-fashioned mail box. The beauty of exchanging postcards is the stamp of the country of origin on the card itself (unlike letters where the envelope is stamped). At one glance you know where the postcard has arrived from and how far and wide it has travelled to reach you. In addition, the picture side can be filled with all sorts of images. Most postcrossers prefer “touristy” images that provide a glimpse of the place the card has been sent from. But there are many others with peculiar quirks and hobbies who prefer their mailboxes filled with subjects of interest printed on the postcards. I have sent out cards with pictures of local cuisines for food lovers, and in turn have received cards depicting national sports or dance forms from fellow athletes and dancers.
I recently procured this box of “literary postcards”, aptly named “bibliophilia” – a hundred cards filled with references to books and authors from antediluvian times to the present century. The picture side of the card is an illustration of the contents of the book with a quote by the author, while the side to be filled mentions the name of the book and author along with the year of publication. The artwork is gorgeous – I’m tempted to keep the cards myself! Will fill them up gradually as I come in contact with bibliophiles to send them to. Have a look at some pictures – I love the quality of the cards, the creativity behind the images, and the entire literary presentation. Most of the cards are sepia-toned, giving them a very old-world charm – a perfect ode to the eras the books were written in, and the very art of sending and receiving handwritten mail.
Title – The Reading Promise
Author – Alice Ozma
Genre – Memoir
On the weekend celebrating Father’s Day, Alice Ozma’s tribute to reading is a fitting book that highlights the parent-child relationship and the bond forged through books.
This is not a book about books – If you’re looking for a list of titles to pick up and authors to check out, you’ll be disappointed. The Reading Promise is about the very act of reading, and how books connect people. This is a book about individuals having the quilt of their lives woven together by the books they shared. It is a tribute to the words on a page, the person who read them to you, the one you read them to, the memories associated with each book you have ever read. For Alice Ozma, reading is an act of love, and she describes her book as a love story.
When Alice was nine years old, her parents went through a separation. Her father ended up with sole custody of Alice and her sister Kath. Dad wanted the girls to know they would always be his priority no matter what. And the bibliophile that he was, he made a pact with the girls to read to them and with them everyday. Books ensured they would always be there for each other – whatever else might separate them in life, reading would be the one activity that bound them.
Kath did her own reading (she’s seven years elder to Alice), but dad and Alice took up a challenge to read together for a hundred consecutive days. This was a fun activity for a nine year old – she got to read and spend time with dad. They successfully completed the challenge and realized there was so much fun and learning on the way that they set a new target for a thousand consecutive days of reading – even giving the project a title, “The Reading Streak”. Avid readers, however, will always read – target or no target. The 1000-day goal ultimately resulted into 3,218 days – the reading streak continued for nine years, only coming to an end when Alice left home for college.
“The Reading Promise” beautifully takes us through the father-daughter relationship and the role books played in their lives. As a single father raising two daughters, dad relied on literature to get him through parenthood – according to him, anything you ever needed to know could be found in books. And this love for books is what he shared with his children. As mentioned earlier, this book is about the memories associated with books read over a lifetime. Alice’s mum’s attempted suicide, her parents’ divorce, her sister leaving home, her first accident while driving, road trips, visits to museums – from the ages of nine to eighteen books backed her every step of the way, whether to learn how to cope from characters going through similar situations, or just as a diversion when situations got too overwhelming.
Each chapter begins with a quote from a book she was reading at that point of time. So, from a child to an adult the reader is taken through an assortment of books that grew up along with Alice (or rather helped Alice grow up).
Anyone who has been raised by bibliophile parents and grandparents, who has literally been born and brought up around books, who has tonnes of friends who are bookworms, and has in turn introduced one’s children and grandchildren to books will love “The Reading Promise”. It’s an ode to the unsaid promise that books have always been there for us and we will always be there for books. And as we share books with the people we love, we promise them that we will always be there for them. Books, and the memories of reading them, are treasures we entrust to our loved ones. A reading family will identify with this greatly. (Even Alice Ozma’s name has a literary story behind it – Dad went all out right from the time of his children’s births.)
“The Reading Promise” was written when Alice was twenty-two years old. (Hence the tagline of the “promise made thirteen years ago”.) The writing is simplistic and childlike – not intended as a literary marvel but more as a compilation of the bookish antics of the father-daughter duo. Read this if you have bonded over books with your parents/children. A fabulous read for all bookworms, though fathers and daughters will particularly enjoy this one. A single father raising daughters and using literature as a medium to have “the talk”. Or dad showing up at the theatre because rehearsals have gone on too late, and arguing with the director that it’s nearing midnight and the day’s reading is pending. Alice’s writing strikes a chord of how protective dads can be, no matter the age of the daughter – that eagle eye will always be on the lookout for “injustices” (however trivial they might be). As it pays tribute to this special bond and the role books play in the equation, this is a must-read, on Father’s Day or any day.
P.S. There is a detailed list of books the pair read over nine years, compiled at the end of the book. At a glance, it literally reflects how the father raised his children through books and how their reading choices evolved over the years.
Rating – 5/5
Writing has never been one of my hobbies or something I would actively pursue. I love reading though, and had started off this blog in an attempt to connect with fellow bibliophiles. Book reviews formed a large part of my initial blog posts here. Then a few months ago, I joined the Daily Post on WordPress which helped me remarkably in taking the initiative to actually sit and write something. The prompts were a fun way of expanding on things I knew, while also learning new words and concepts on the way. This is why, when the Daily Post ended, a few of us disheartened souls decided to launch the Ragtag Daily Prompt – to build a community of bloggers like ourselves who either love writing and look for matter to write on, or on the other end of the spectrum are complete novices to writing and blogging and are looking for a place to start.
Our prompt for today is “cataract“, whose selection our prompter has described as “technical fun”. The beauty of the daily prompts is to learn something each day, in a fun way by bringing bloggers on a common platform. I was browsing and contemplating on what to write about the chosen word, without rendering my article too technical, when I chanced upon some information that “cataract” is a synonym for “cascade” and “waterfall” (in addition to the progressively degenerating condition of the lens of the eye with which we commonly associate the word.)
Here’s an excerpt from Robert Southey’s “The Cataract of Lodore”:
The cataract strong
Then plunges along,
Striking and raging
As if a war waging
Its caverns and rocks among;
Rising and leaping,
Sinking and creeping,
Swelling and sweeping,
Showering and springing,
Flying and flinging,
Writhing and ringing,
Eddying and whisking,
Sprouting and frisking,
Turning and twisting,
Around and around
With endless rebound:
Smiting and fighting,
A sight to delight in;
Dizzying and deafening the ear with it’s sound.
The lines are short but I loved the play on words. Here’s the link to the entire poem for those who like poetry and are interested in reading more:
Wow! Today’s Ragtag Daily Prompt brought back some old college memories. This blog is a fun site for the hobbies and activities I like to share with the world (and also connect with like-minded individuals to learn from and grow on the way). I try not to keep my posts too technical for the benefit of my followers who are following and reading about my myriad pursuits. For those of you who are so used to being bombarded by books, running and dance articles, I do have a professional life besides all of these. (Time management is the key!) I am a nutritionist by profession, though I try to keep this blog fun by avoiding too many serious posts. So don’t worry! We’ll stick to tradition and keep this write-up light as well.
Our prompt for today “julienne” transported me to those years of university classes. I majored in Food Technology, Nutrition and Dietetics with a specialization in Medical Nutrition Therapy (MNT) and Sports Nutrition, along with a super specialization in Diabetes Education. Nutrition therapy, however, is not just about planning and prescribing diets on paper but also cooking each of the meals you plan. Principles of food science need to be applied to account for changes in food composition in raw versus cooked foods, meals should be an assorted mix of colors and textures in addition to being palatable. Each food preparation was rated on a “sensory evaluation” chart – an individual score for each parameter (taste, smell, visual appeal etc.), followed by an overall score by adding up the individual gradings.
The cooking practical classes were quite something! Now I’m quite good with my gross motor skills (lifting, punching, jumping), but my fine motor skills are another matter altogether. I’m capable enough to paint, sketch, embroider or engage in any miscellaneous art and craft, but finely dicing and chopping ingredients, applying decorative piping onto cakes or muffins, or cutting vegetables into julienne strips were an enormous task. I still wonder how I got through university exams. (Maybe I made up in theory.)
Writer Jhumpa Lahiri had famously quoted how books let you travel without moving your feet. (Courtesy: The Namesake). Books have another role to play in our travels as well – accompanying us as reliable travel buddies when we actually move around the world. I always carry a book or two on holiday – a theme picked based on the place I’m going to visit or explore. In addition, I have a quirk of picking up books (and bookmarks and postcards) from places I travel to – a kind of memento as remembrance of the trip whenever I flip through their pages in future. Locating local bookstores and sourcing books is a must-have on my itinerary wherever I go. This picture depicts my latest haul from my most recent trip – a smorgasbord of titles, authors and genres from three different bookstores.
Has anyone read these books or other titles by the same authors? Feedback is always appreciated. And of course, I’ll share reviews as I go along.
How has the week been shaping up in the blogging world? We’re on Wednesday – my day for picking the prompts (woohoo!!) For the benefit of those (like myself) who were following the Weekly Photo Challenge in addition to the daily prompts, I’m proposing a word that can be used either way. At the moment we don’t have a separate page for the photo challenges, but I loved participating in the photo challenges and have selected a prompt that can be attempted for writing and/or photography.
Today’s chosen word is “smorgasbord“. What comes to your mind when you think of the word and the ways it can be used? Formulate a write-up describing the word and/or a photograph depicting what lends meaning to the word – let’s have your thoughts on “smorgasbord“.
To those participating in the daily prompts, use “ragtag daily prompt”, “RDP”, and “smorgasbord” as tags so your posts are easily accessible to fellow bloggers. For those contributing photos, use “weekly photo challenge” in addition to the other three prompts.
Being a Wednesday, you are invited to post two blogs if you want – one describing the word in text, and a separate one for the photo. Or you could just club the two. The photo option is specially for those who actively participated in the Weekly Photo Challenge.
Here’s the link to the ragtag community page – post all your blogs there so fellow bloggers following the prompts can find you.
Happy reading, writing, photographing, sharing. We love to hear and see it all!
Here’s my contribution for the Wednesday photo challenge using the prompt:
“Perhaps some deep-rooted atavism urges the wanderer back to lands which his ancestors left in the dim beginnings of history. Sometimes a man hits upon a place to which he mysteriously feels that he belongs. Here is the home he sought, and he will settle amid scenes that he has never seen before, among men he has never known, as though they were familiar to him from his birth. Here at last he finds rest.”
~W. Somerset Maugham
Who am I?
The conclusion of my ancestors’ story? Or the prologue to my descendants’ story?
I’d rest my case,
But I want to argue.
I want to chase.
It isn’t that you’re all that different.
Perhaps it’s the magic of our distance.
We can sit so close, and still be so far.
We live like a funeral, burning brighter than the stars.
I’d plead for silence,
But I like to argue.
This feeling is half-met violence.
It’s like you’re singing melodies,
Starlight smile, piano key teeth
Like the universe just fell on me.
Gone for a while, hide me in a sheath.
Affection at best,
Catastrophe for sure.
Lost just like the rest.
You’re like a present I never wanted.
A gift I haven’t yet received.
It’s just a matter of indifference, I guess
These feeling for you…
I know it’s just a bit of limerence, at best.