When Jacob Rees-Mogg hands over one of his ballpoint pens, I often find my thoughts turn to Lewis Carroll’s wisdom: “He’s only doing it to annoy, / Because he knows he’s making it up.” But the Daily Telegraph’s report on the Cabinet Secretary’s summer reading list got me thinking again. after finishing dissolution of the monasteries By James J Clark, was about to begin the price of timeHistory of Interest Rates by Edward Chancellor.
Lest this seem an indigestible literary diet, there was mention of a side order of P.G. Wodehouse, but I needed no further convincing that we, in matters of literature at least, were in complete agreement.
The idea that summer reading should come with a jacket plaid with foil and feature extreme violence, romantic incidents—or both—is causing me pain in the bookcase. If the demands of everyday life mean that reading should take second place in work and family, what better occupation for a summer vacation than deep diving into some thick square books patiently waiting for your attention?
So I plan to spend all I have on dealing with Walter Benjamin’s epic deception, arcade project. But if it’s Yen Ris Moog for Corrupt Monasteries, or my Shwarmery for Benjamin’s Labyrinth musings, you have hissed “Bumblebee!” When you get to your Reacher or pick up a Picoult, there will be room for all of us at Klerb.
Currently in development, Klerb is an app that suggests matching people based on the books they like. Although it has already attracted Soubriquet, “Tinder for Bookworms,” it’s not primarily a dating app: instead, it will bring together people in the same area with similar literary tastes.
What develops from there could be anything from a book club to a friendship or romance. But if you share Revd. Sidney Smith’s view is that no furniture is as charming as books, and the contents of a person’s bookshelf are a much better indication of a potential GSOH soul mate and a labradodel’s fondness.
An unmistakable spark of discernment ignites when you discover that someone, hitherto a stranger, loves the same books as you; That you have been made up of the same stories and that your mental landscapes are populated by the same characters – that you are, in fact, no stranger at all.
Admittedly, there are some risks involved in sharing a passion with a particular writer: people can be very possessive of some titles: Dodie Smith’s readers I captured the castleElizabeth Judge little white horse or TH White’s Comfort Mistress Masham They are universally convinced that these books belong to them alone, and are not inclined to admit anyone else’s claims.
Then, too, certain granules in oysters found in books can be a useful stimulant. Years ago, frost nearly ruined my new relationship when I discovered my partner’s passion for fantasy fiction—the kind I thought I hated—and proved immune to Penelope Fitzgerald’s quiet brilliance. In the end, we agreed on a literary inoculation: Robin Hobbs Lee Elena Ferrante — and we’re still here.
In the end, it doesn’t matter what you read as much as the curiosity and openness inherent in the practice of reading. As director John Waters wisely noted in his collection of essays, an example“Don’t sleep with people who don’t read.”