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An idea always percolating? What a productive way to think about it. I’ve always felt I was great about idea-generating, but dreadful about carrying through. Hmm. Thank you. I’m looking forward to buying Shattered.

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I also am looking forward to Shattered.

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Mar 9Liked by Hanif Kureishi

Great piece Hanif. I remember the Southwoid bookshop near Highgate station with great affection. Books will never go away! Even when urinating in one’s pants. Which is the next phase as far as I am concerned. Love Nige

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Mar 9Liked by Hanif Kureishi

Greetings from an (as ever) chilly Ireland. A brilliant blog post. I admire your replete and overflowing bookshelves. I also love second hand book shops but I have also fallen in love with the e reader. In fact I now prefer it to an actual book which will disgust the purists. However, what the e reader can never do is transport you to warm memories of how and when and where you bought the book and you can’t gift an e book either.

Coincidentally you mentioned Bowie this week and I thought of him in the car a few days ago when they were playing Changes on the radio. How do you begin to describe him? Artist, actor, musician, fashionista, futurologist? All of these and more. The edition of “great lives” where you nominate him is required listening.

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Mar 9Liked by Hanif Kureishi

I cannot thank you enough for this blog. You are remarkable.

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Mar 9Liked by Hanif Kureishi

The one by Chogyam Trungpa is one I also have- The Myth of Freedom. Having books is a great comfort. They represent the potential of attaining knowledge. What you said "My reasons for reading were different, they were to do with class. If you came from a lower middle-class background, the schools were rough and inadequate, and you would be competing, for the rest of your life, with privately educated middle-class kids. Reading was a necessary attempt to improve my social status. When I moved from the suburbs to London, and began to work in the theatre, film, television and publishing, those worlds were dominated by white Oxbridge educated men. As an interloper, if you were to succeed, you’d have to make sure you had something different or special to impress with,” really resonated with me, because it reminded me of my father, English like you. He read all the time, and read the classics, poetry, sociology, spiritual things. He was a painter and in the latter part of his life, divided his day between reading, writing letters, and painting and drawing. (He also liked to cook. He cooked weird things- added orange peel to things that one would not expect orange peel to be in.) He came from Fulham when it was not a great part of London. When an English friend of mine used to say to me, repeatedly, that he did not realize my father was English, I’d say “John, that’s because he was lower class.” I don’t care for the English class system. But I see that my father’s attempts to evade it, and his dyslexia have been handed down to me here in America, though I haven’t fully recognized to what extent. My pooh-poohing of accomplishment, my attempts to leap over scholastic gaps, my resistance to becoming well-educated, all stem from both aspects of my heritage. It’s useful to recognize this at the same time as I must celebrate my family’s attempts to surmount our obstacles of class and inherited traits.

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Mar 9Liked by Hanif Kureishi

The objects on your bookshelves are interesting too, and must all have their own individual and personal stories to tell.

You often mention your formative years

In Bromley which I always enjoy since I grew up there myself & am of a similar age. I don’t recall the secondhand bookshops but I have fond memories of the children’s library as I would go to help out regularly after school and on Saturdays after my ballet class. It was a magical place for me and I enjoyed putting the returned books back on the shelves in the right spot and stamping those being borrowed and tucking the card away. Something about a love of order at that time that didn’t really carry on into my later years - possibly disrupted by my hippie phase.

The adult library was in the same building but I always felt it was out of bounds to me. I can remember that library almost as well as the house in which I grew up. Neither are there anymore.

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Mar 9Liked by Hanif Kureishi

Extended meditations on the contents of your bookshelves, punctuated by episodes revealing your physical condition would make a wonderful structure for a second volume of autobiography, I reckon. I see you have Patrick Hamilton’s Slaves of Solitude on your shelf. I keep my copy alongside other ‘totem texts’ - books I have adored and which have had a lasting impact x

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Mar 9Liked by Hanif Kureishi

Yes it’s true you are always in the line always getting got an idea always creating it is - is it picking up a thread ? In between something but you’ll never get to the end and Hanif this is your writing it is a stream. Now I am going out for tea and then a pub quiz. This is so rare had to psych up all week. What to wear when to set off where to park stop thinking about the journey home in the dark stop

It. Books are so precious and the important ones can be reread . Doing that now. Important news I have requested your biography via my local library so they will order it - and then your beautiful face will be on display on a shelf surrounded by books. Imagine that! I will share the quiz night next week hopefully but listen am such a slow thinker don’t hold out for much there. And worst of all it’s all women. I wish you lots of care and cheer from the tiny village life (book there) in North Yorkshire Maddi xxxxxxx

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It’s interesting you work on several blogs silently in your head. I had a friend who used to say he worked in his sleep. He was a lighting designer. He’d wake up with a solution baked. What a gift!

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Mar 9Liked by Hanif Kureishi

I am looking at your bookshelves and I feel I am intruding into your privacy! A voyeur! Best regards from Argentina.

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Mar 9Liked by Hanif Kureishi

"To my right, next to the bed, there are books about Zen and the counterculture, as well as volumes by Alan Watts . . . I wonder whether if he will ever come back into fashion – such an interesting figure."

https://timlott.substack.com/p/guru-the-life-and-mind-of-alan-watts

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I write about anything and everything (my claim is I write on anything from Annuciations to orgasms, which is factually true, but you could question whether they are two ends of any spectrum) and keep a list of ideas of things to write about. Strangely enough, one is what our bookshelves mean to us, which I was thinking of calling Books Do Furnish a Room. I come from a completely different background although I am of a similar age, but my piece would not have been so different, including what is on the bookshelves. I wonder how many people know the reference? Anthony Powell is not read all that much these days.

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Truly remarkable.

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Mar 9Liked by Hanif Kureishi

That's what I love about writing (and I'm sure it's true of any art)--the bit of your mind that is busy musing. Some times more actively than others, but it's there as a kind of net catching things from the passing flow of all that's going on around and within you.

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The first months of my recovery were spent in our library as well. It’s the closest room to the front door for getting me in and out of the house, as I expect your living room is too. When I was parked in there, I hoped I wouldn’t be forgotten in the main flow of comings and goings, which was what I feared most. At night, my Spanish-speaking nurse, Ana, would pull out books I pointed to. We’d pick a few out, all night sometimes and talk about them. How could I have missed this one all these years, I would say to her? Why on earth I ever bought this piece of rubbish is beyond me, I would wonder, then I’d see someone had given it to me for a birthday present and I’d tell her about that person. Before my injury, I’d pass by the library shelves a million times going to and from the little loo behind it without realizing what I was missing. Those nights in the library gave me back my inner life. They kept me sane and curious and a lot of times pain free. I re-read, re-viewed, re-discovered and re-collected what I love most. My Spanish improved a 1000%. I thought at one time it would have been a speedier and healthier recovery for my bed to face the garden but that wasn’t the point to why I was there.

Thanks, Hanif, for reminding me of my library healing months. If hospital rooms had at least a few, well-curated shelves of books rather than TVs or our devices, how much better might we all recover?

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This takes me back to my family and their reading and scholastic habits. My mom, a registered nurse, always felt uneducated and less than because she never got a college degree and came from a tiny town in Montana. From the time they were married they lived in the burbs of Los Angeles. She drank all the culture the city had to offer. Whenever we were out of school, we went to some museum or garden that she had read about in the LA Times. I'll never forget visiting the County Museum of Art and seeing John Chamberlain's sculpture of car parts. My brothers and I, (ages 9, 11 and 13), laughed so hard we almost peed our pants. It sure didn't look like ART to us. Though we had a full bookcase, I rarely saw them reading anything but the paper.....and of course, at that time, there were 2, the LA Times in the morning and the local paper in the afternoon. (My brothers first jobs were delivering that paper on their bikes.) But trips to the library were as regular as trips to the grocery store. Reading was easy for me so one of my favorite parts of back to school was getting a new 'reader' with all kinds of new stories. I regularly got in trouble for reading under my desktop while boring stuff was going on....geography or history seemed boring. And it was hardly the 'classics', mostly Nancy Drew,......only as an adult am I trying to 'catch up'. But what a gift reading is.....and audiobooks, when the actual reading is too difficult. It's how I got through Moby Dick and War and Peace. And they were so good...quite lovely to find a slightly easier way to ingest them. Anyway, thanks for your missives and I wish you plenty of helpers to connect you to us and the rest of the world.

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