Girl Trying to Read

The scents of Christmas are hard to resist.

I wish I could describe to you the scents that permeate St. Anne’s Square right now. Going shopping for the last of my Christmas gifts, I walked through its busy festive market, the rain drizzling and natural light giving way to a constellation of LEDs. There, you are surrounded by fragrant, insistent aromas of vanilla, waffles, chocolate, cinnamon, coffee…as heavenly as any of the expensive perfumes I had tested out at Boots just half an hour before. Now, I say this as someone who loves a good perfume – but I do probably love food more!

Anyway, the reason I headed down that way today was to go and visit the cafΓ© at Waterstone’s Bookshop. My plan was to retreat into that cosy little hideaway among 3 floors of books; to forget all about hunting for the right presents and order a delicious espresso. I had a book along in my bag, ready to draw me in to its company with an engagingly written and plainly laid out analysis of the future of narrative in cyberspace. Sadly, it seemed like everyone else had the same idea about where to go. I was just too late to get a seat. 😦 The sign outside may say that 2nd View is the city’s “best kept secret”. Well, if that was ever the case, it’s certainly not anymore. Too bad because their soup is gorgeous and they serve it with really generous chunks of fresh-baked bread. Sigh. But hey, at least I ended up buying yet another book to threaten the bookcase with! Girl Reading by Katie Ward. Ironic, don’tcha think?

Not exactly accurate...

On that theme: I am not sure if Katie Ward explores the relationship of her female portrait-sitters to the books themselves, as well as to the artists who paint them, but I can’t help thinking about how books – physical, smellable, wonderful books – have been the one constant source of fascination, discovery, challenge, comfort, escape, and countless other nouns/emotions/properties, ever since I was in my pram and couldn’t even read them. I must have had some inkling of that, because (ask my Mum) I clutched them tightly anyway. Being taught how to read and soon after how to interpret is equivalent to being armed with magic. The fact that so many people in Manchester chose to go to the bookshop today to relax is really something special. Even with ebooks and computer games and new forms of narrative gaining popularity and signalling (perhaps) a natural progression, some people will always love leafing through the “old-fashioned” paper kind. I hope so anyway, since at least a few books are among those Christmas presents…


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6 responses to “Girl Trying to Read”

  1. Siobhan says :

    Oh that does sound like one of life’s ironies. Best to stay at home or the library reading at this time of year. I refuse to enter shops in Oxford during December- hell on earth.

  2. Jemster says :

    Tonight’s ‘Imagine with Alan Yentob’ is on exactly this subject! It’s called ‘Books: The Last Chapter?’ and it’s all about ‘the future of the printed book.’ You should give it a watch!

  3. Ruth Farrar says :

    Did you know that Annie Horniman, who founded the first regional theatre in Manchester (it became the Library Theatre, currently camping out in the Lowry while they build it a shiny new gaff) chose the city because she thought we were all dead literary? Apparently she toured a play from the Abbey Theatre all over England; she sold text editions of the play after the show, and Mancs bought hundreds and hundreds of them, vastly more than anywhere else. So that’s why the bookshop was hammered, probably! πŸ™‚

    • musingfrommanchester says :

      That’s really interesting, I didn’t know that. It does seem like Manchester is very keen on its literature. πŸ™‚ Although its funny, I’ve noticed that I don’t see as many people reading on the buses as back home in Glasgow. Wonder why that is?? Maybe just the bus I’m on haha. We should go see something at the Theatre, I keep meaning to go!

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