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Lost in a Book

Do you remember when life was simple? A time when all your worries were about yourself. If there was no homework, or chores, to be done then you were free. You hadn’t begun to overthink the world yet, all that mattered was what was straight in front of you. Being a child is so much more simple, although they would probably disagree.

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Following the Family Tradition

It’s funny when you see your kids picking up family traits and following in your footsteps, as well as those of your forebears. Every child is different and don’t all show these signs of course. Some children obviously resemble or take after a parent in some way, but when you can see a thread flowing through the family that can be quite astonishing.

Continue reading “Following the Family Tradition”

Touching and Feeling Again

Reliving old experiences can be beneficial to our minds and souls, if there is such a thing. Going back in time, searching through photograph albums, watching old family videos, it reconnects us to where we come from. It seems more important than ever to do this in the digital age we live in.

Now, that digital world has huge benefits and I am not anti modernity in the slightest. The ability to share ideas, find differing points of view and learn from people on the opposite side of the planet is something that everyone should avail themselves of. Yet, there is something missing, there is no physical record of what we see, read or listen to.

Online music streaming offers huge convenience and the ability to discover music which you would never hear if you only relied on the radio to provide you with new musical ideas.. Ebooks are amazing and with my reading addiction are definitely space saving, but then I started to think. Where is the history? What am I leaving behind?

Remember when you were a child? You could browse through your parents record collection finding things from their past, who would have thought that my dad liked Jazz when he was younger? Maybe he was cool once? Looking at their bookshelf you could see some of the books that your teachers were trying to get you to read. Perhaps you didn’t appreciate it at the time but in the future you would and at least you could see them.

Realising this has made be consider more which books I purchase a paper version of, and then remain on my bookshelf, and which I am happy to own in an electronic version. Even more so it has got me back into the physical world of music, specifically the world of vinyl records.

It is no secret that vinyl has made a comeback in recent years as people yearn for the physical, as well as for the past. For me it is definitely a combination of the two. Fond memories of my youth come flooding back, even if most of the music I listened to then now seems tragic. Even more, there is something immensely satisfying about touching and feeling the music you are about to listen to. Watching the record spin as the music pours forth from the speakers is hypnotising and extremely therapeutic. Being compelled to turn over the record when it reaches the end of side one ensures you stay connected and can’t drift away for too long. We all try to multitask too much these days and all it means is you don’t concentrate and truly pay attention to anything. Of course there is a time for background music and that is when I will happily play a Spotify playlist. But I have learnt to choose which option is correct for the situation and if I want to listen to music I truly listen.

The only problem with all of this is the effect it is having on my bank balance. What began with a cheap turntable and only buying the cheaper second hand records has, of course, morphed into a full on addiction. The turntable has been upgraded and the Pink Floyd collection is almost complete. Next there will probably be a new amplifier and speakers, I hope my better half doesn’t read this.

As I sit here with Dark Side of the Moon spinning I have no regrets though. My children will one day look through my record collection and maybe, you never know, even think that their dad was cool after all.

© Neil Hayes and neilsworldofenglish

A Healthy Obsession?

Can any obsession be truly healthy? Surely the very word has negative connotations. Obsessions can interfere with our lives, our decisions, and affect the path we take.

My current obsession, is reading. We all read for different reasons. To escape, to other worlds and into other lives. To escape, for relaxation and inspiration. We also, of course, read for knowledge, whether it be sourced from fiction or non-fiction.

I believe that reading simply improves us. Of course, we can read self-help books for this purpose. But any book exposes us to somebody else’s mind. Their thoughts, feelings and experiences, as well as their culture and history.

Travelling is, perhaps, the best way to experience other cultures. But reading is a close second. In a world which seems to be obsessed and suspicious over every difference then, maybe, I have a healthy obsession after all.

© Neil Hayes and neilsworldofenglish

My Struggle: Book Review

Karl Ove Knausgaard. Honestly, I’d never heard of him. Until, last year, I started reading about this guy. People were saying that he has been writing the literary accomplishment of the decade/century, apparently. Quite a claim, and somewhat hard to believe. Who wants to read the autobiography of someone you have never heard of? I had my doubts, believe me.

I decided to give it a go, with the first volume of five, “A Death in the Family”. Now I’m not going to keep you waiting. Straight away, I will tell you that I loved this book, as well as every other in the series. The best thing I can say about these books is that I am getting excited again just thinking about my first experience with them.

But, thinking back to that first volume, I really wasn’t sure. As I was reading, and becoming absorbed in the story and in his life, I couldn’t help but feel unsure. Unsure about whether this thing was really that good, it was just too simple. Then, suddenly, it wasn’t, it became philosophical and tragic. There was something about it, I just couldn’t put it down.

And so it continued with the next volumes. Each one captures a different time in his life, but they are not sequential. Events overlap, characters appear, disappear and later re-emerge.

This was definitely one of the greatest reading experiences of my life, but also one of the most uncomfortable. But doesn’t great art always make us feel a little discomfort? I have some similarities to this man, and at times I was close to tears, as it was sometimes a little too close to home. There is something about his style which makes you feel as if you are there, feeling with him and for him.

His struggle is personal, but he reveals himself to his readers. His wounds are bared and open for examination. Family, relationships and his art. All these things are examined, to the bare bones.

And finally, the greatest compliment I can give this series is the sadness I felt when I finished the fifth book. The realisation that, for now, there isn’t another volume to immerse myself in. Hopefully, in the  future, there will be more. For now we have to wait and be patient. But not for too long, please.

Text © Neil Hayes and neilsworldofenglish

Photo by Joshua Earle on Unsplash

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