Cowart's Common Room
The vice of secret reading

Cait's request for help with her questionnaire got me thinking. I'm just reading Isabel Allende's Paula. In this book, and in her bio My Invented Country, Allende writes about her Tio Pablo, who gave her (when she was a young child) a flashlight. He knew how she loved to read, and he gave it to her so that she could circumvent her early 'lights out'. In Paula Allende writes "...but Uncle Pablo gave my a flashlight so that I could read under the covers; ever since, I have enjoyed the vice of secret reading" I loved that line!!! I also enjoy the vice of secret reading - even today, when as an adult, I can read what I want, wherever and whenever. The delight of a few stolen minutes with a good book has led me to having a stash in every room in the house - and in the car, the desk in my office etc etc. Does anyone else share the vice of secret reading??

Posted at 14th Apr 2008 - 06:43AM   Posted by Pondside   The vice of secret reading Comments: 20

KittyB's Avatar I loved the book Paula, about her daughter and her illness. Isabel Allende, and many Latin American writers, has a completely bewitching way of writing. One of my all time favourites is Laura Esquivel's Like Water for Chocolate, have you read that?

I am a secret reader, not under the bedclothes these days, but I always have a book in my bag, or close to hand just to grab five minutes of escape from life sometimes.

Posted by: KittyB on 14th Apr 2008 at 07:59AM

Faith's Avatar I read in the car while I wait for my daughter to come out of college. I'd go mad if I had to sit there twiddling my thumbs!

I also read in bed, on the loo. in the bath, in the garden and in the chair of course!

Posted by: Faith on 14th Apr 2008 at 08:04AM

Exmoorjane's Avatar I too read under the covers as a child....can still find myself getting short of breath thinking about it!
Now I too always have a book in my bag for those odd (wonderful) lost moments before picking up James, or waiting for someone. Can't read in cars or buses or coaches, yet trains - ah trains!
My real read-fest kicks off in the bath (but will only read small paperbacks in the bath for obvious reasons) and then continues in bed.
Weekends I get a lie-in sometimes and then cosy up with my book and it is just SHEER bliss. Though often overdo it and can just feel A thinking, 'won't she ever ploody well get up?'
Loved Like Water for Chocolate, Kitty (and of course you did -it would be one of the major books I'd think of for you....) Hmm, there's a game - which book do you associate with Purplecoo members?


Posted by: Exmoorjane on 14th Apr 2008 at 08:11AM

Cait's Avatar The other day I was in a little car park sitting in my daughter's car waiting for her while she took one of the girls for a dental appointment. I had to stay in the car because I was waiting for a phone call from my GP,; I was using daughter's mobile phone (a feat in itself for me as, though I have been given one by my son, I don't use it, the fact that we have signal problems where I live is just one reason, there are many others!). We were in Hay actually, the town of books but there I was in the car stuck without anything to read! Hell! I couldn't go out of the car because (a) it was freezing cold and (b) what I had to say was personal and didn't want to be overheard.

It was torture I can tell you and I resorted to reading a Chinese restaurant flyer which was all I could find in the car. I went through all the menus, very boring I can tell you! I had no pen or paper either so couldn't write.

Like a lot of us I read cereal packets, sauce bottles, you name it. I was reminded never to go out without a book and writing materials.

Like Jane, I can't read going along in a car or coach as I get queasy but I am OK in a train.

Have never tried reading in a bath and can't understand how it is possible. My daughter does it all the time. Bed is my absolute favourite place to read, closely followed by the garden on a warm enough day.

People think that I am able to read at work in the library but I have never ever had time!

As a child I don't think my head was ever out of a book.

Jane your idea for a game is great. Could we compile a book list (of actual and/or imaginary titles) for each other? Or all pick one for each of us? Am getting quite excited. Sad eh?

Posted by: Cait on 14th Apr 2008 at 08:56AM

Westerwitch's Avatar Oooooooo yes so little time to read so any time, any place, anywhere. Oh Cait I HATE being caught out without something to read and like you have ended up reading whatever is in the glove compartment.

Now that I am writing again I have treated myself to some Pukka hard back pads and they are stashed everywhere with pencils - so there is always something to write on where ever I am . . . sheer bliss. I LOVE Pukka pads . . .sigh . . .

Posted by: Westerwitch on 14th Apr 2008 at 09:08AM

Westerwitch's Avatar Eeeeek bet the book you would associate with me would be the Rule Book Twisted Evil

Posted by: Westerwitch on 14th Apr 2008 at 09:09AM

Cait's Avatar Laughing
I have the giggles now thinking of humorous (sp?) titles for people.

What's a Pukka Pad?
(Sorry I live in Wales, they may not have reached here yet).

Posted by: Cait on 14th Apr 2008 at 09:13AM

Secret reader here to, if its not a book it's lables, signs, anything xx

Posted by: Bodran on 14th Apr 2008 at 09:25AM

Suffolkmum's Avatar Ooh yes, I'm an avid secret reader, always have been. I'm rarely without a book too and like Cait I read anything and everything. We went to say with with some friends of R's once and they didn't have a single book inthe house - not even a recipe book - it was a tortuous weekend. I LOVE the idea for he game.

Posted by: Suffolkmum on 14th Apr 2008 at 10:14AM

Fennie's Avatar Another Pukka pad fan here. (Yes, we have them in Wales, Cait!) Keep a stash - A4 hardbacks to fill up with article jottings, written in pencil. Secret reading? No longer under the cover by torchlight - though been there done that. Now I just fall asleep. Like the idea of Jane's game. But would we ever agree?

Posted by: Fennie on 14th Apr 2008 at 10:42AM

Westerwitch's Avatar

I have just ordered a load of the hard back ones on line - I couldn't get all the sizes from other sources and they were a lovely company to deal with.

Posted by: Westerwitch on 14th Apr 2008 at 10:58AM

Milla's Avatar great idea, KB def LWFC and all those other saucy food ones - there were a couple written by an Italian sounding chap a couple of years ago. Or she should be Hens Dancing by Rafaella Barker although that would also go for Pipany, Elizm and others who are ruled by their pecking beasts.
When we were househunting (and goodness we looked at LOADS) the houses without books (of which there were a depressing number) tended to have a dead feel. Those with were also the ones with jaunty kitchens, endless stuff magnetted to the fridge, much more alive feeling. One house had just three books, that Dave Pelzer series which was akin to finding a murderer tucked in a cupboard, somehow creepy that ALL they wanted to read was an abuse series. Weird.
Back to original point, yes, read madly, avidly, pies everywhere, spares in the car - the car has things like Simon Grey which is quite rich so suits a small dip in; lots of volumes of short stories and bitty books (Jeremy Paxman on The English, for eg) in the loo. Small notebooks filled with unreadable pencil (always cheap propelling pencils) scrawls. When I was locked out on Saturday it was torture because I had no bag, and the car had been cleared to take to the garage recently - apparently they advise that now in case they are "accidentaly" crushed. So no Simon Grey. The first thing I did was go to the library (who know I never know where my card is and always let me have books out without ID, blessikins) and get 2 books out against the waiting. And then I went to the key cutting shop to locate a locksmith. The boys played with a football. Which is what they're supposed to do. Don't read in cars, seems rude anyway, too intimate a space for one to read and one to do the work of driving, not fair. Can read on coaches, but tend to chat.

Posted by: Milla on 14th Apr 2008 at 11:02AM

KittyB's Avatar Pies everywhere! Ho ho! Freudian slip?
Yes, I read the foody ones by the Italian chap, and a couple by Lily someone or other - they all have a slightly magical thing going on where the food has strange powers and people become overwhelmed - a la Nigella on a greedy fridge raid, all big eyes and I just can't help it, smirk, giggle, pout, scoff, snort, oink.
Dave Pelzer books just morbid and scary. A friend had one published - autobiographical, and I know I should support her etc but don't want to know frankly. Mean mean me. There's a shelf in our WHS with a title on the top 'traumatised chidhood stories': roll up, roll up, fun fun fun here!
Don't have pukka pads but love my Moleskine book, although the pages are falling out which is very disappointing. I like the jolly Paperchase ones best, they have a lovely book for every purpose.

Posted by: KittyB on 14th Apr 2008 at 11:26AM

Inthemud's Avatar I loved "Like Water for chocolate" too.
I carry a book around in the car and if I'm early for visit or waiting for daughter i'll read.

Used to be a secret reading when a child. My light was supposed to go out at 9pm so i'd have torch and read under the covers so as to not annoy my little sister, i'd read for hours, especially when in my teens and couldn't sleep for stress of exams coming.
Now reading is more limited to a short while in bed before falling asleep, which i do too readily these days so takes an age to read a book.
Best time is on holiday when at parents home with out hubby as i can read without fuss, he's not a reader except of magazines and papers so can't see the joy of snuggling down in sofa with a good book for the afternoon, which i love to do, so do my parents, hence ok to read when visiting them.

Posted by: Inthemud on 14th Apr 2008 at 11:37AM

Milla's Avatar yes, piles not pies, which is a shame. Pies would be better but not perhaps with dodgy tooth.

Posted by: Milla on 14th Apr 2008 at 11:40AM

Withy Brook's Avatar During the war they had double summer time. I was sent to bed at some incredibly early hour, probably by 7.0 I would read in bed until it got too dark and then stand by the window reading until I really could not work out the words - all the time keeping my ears stretched for any sign of a grown-up. Then the mad dash back into bed and pretend to be asleep and not to swallow because this would have given me away!
At school, we had an hour's rest on our beds on Sunday afternoon and we were allowed to read. But we were only allowed one book at a time and I often seemed to lose mine. That hour was the longest since time began.

Posted by: Withy Brook on 14th Apr 2008 at 12:33PM

Fennie's Avatar When I was little, my party trick was being able to read in the dark - well not the complete dark, obviously, but I could still read when others couldn't. Maybe was angler fish in previous life. Indeed hated to read under a light as too much glare off the page hurt my eyes. If I read in the garden I have to wear sunglasses.

(We also had double summer time in the sixties? - Harold Wilson time I seemed to remember. The government then got scared and reverted. A whole lot of people in Scotland were revving chainsaws and complaining about dark mornings apparently.

France used to be on the same time as us, then in 1940 the Germans aligned French time with Berlin. They have never changed it back.

Posted by: Fennie on 14th Apr 2008 at 12:48PM

Frances's Avatar I love reading all these memories of reading, and also have a little Isabel Allende annecdote.
She once visited the shop and I helped her after she admired what I was wearing (multi-wispy layers of black) and asked if it would make her look like a Chilean widow. I laughed and asked if that would be such a bad thing. She also laughed and said, "No, not as bad as a Chilean housewife."
Anyhow, I did some special ordering for her, and as a thank you she sent me autographed copies of two of her books.
I confess that I have read only one of them, but will some day get around to the other.
So, that is my reader's memory.

Posted by: Frances on 14th Apr 2008 at 02:14PM

Pondside's Avatar Wow - a truck load of secret readers!!! I too loved Like Water for Chocolate, read menus, maps, old advert flyers if I am desperate. Frances, I loved your Allende encounter story!!!

Posted by: Pondside on 14th Apr 2008 at 03:05PM

KittyB's Avatar What a glamorous story Frances, love it and also the idea of your clothes being wispy layers of black, sounds gorgeous.
Fennie - made me laugh out loud that you were perhaps an angler-fish in a previous life!

Posted by: KittyB on 14th Apr 2008 at 08:49PM

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