An anti-stress seminar facilitator suggested Margaret Thatcher’s biography (or maybe autobiography?) if falling asleep while reading was the aim … a way of settling racing thoughts that are trying desperately to keep up with all that is expected.
I haven’t tried that book, and I’m not sure Geoffrey Robertson will appreciate this lead in to his tome, Rather His Own Man: Reliable Memories. I’m currently reading it with that very aim.
Anything I read last thing at night is for that very aim.
The idea is to fill my mind with sedate images on which I’ll deliberately dwell (or return to if distracted) while wafting off to sleep. Geoffrey is proving very adept at creating sedate images.
That’s not to say I don’t learn from these night-time journeys. If history, culture and social change are topics that interest you, then you’ll find plenty here. He seems to have been at the centre of, or hovering nearby, most major strides forward in civilisation since the 60s.
One day, I’ll go through it again and jot down those words he throws in sporadically to show he has a dictionary-level vocabulary; words that demonstrate he’s making an effort to present these memories at a populist level because he could actually write it otherwise if he wanted to. Unlike me. What is a ‘plangent voice’?
I’m still a little worried about the other selection from the bookshop shelves that day … Kahlil Gibran’s The Prophert “the most famous work of religious fiction of the twentieth century”. Did I conflate the two in my rush to get out of the over-heated shop? After carrying Geoffery around under my arm, was I already primed for an associative selection?
Not all my selections for Last Thing at Night have been so practical.
Kenneth Lacovara’s Why Dinosaurs Matter – print too small; terminology too technical.
JM Barrie’s A Window in Thrums – too much dialogue written in an unfamiliar accent.
Muhammad Yunus’ A World of Three Zeros – maybe if I skip Chapter One …
Skipping has proved essential at times. Who says I have to read every word!
Graham Seal’s Great Australian Journeys included some rather boring journeys. Sometimes his use of original quotes was a bit too much for my night-time brain. Thankfully, the stories were not very long and a couple each night did the trick.
So, if I’m reading for change, what have I learned?
Plangent means ‘loud and resonant, with a mournful tone’.
I could listen to that.