Monday, June 20, 2016

Where I'm Reading From - Tim Parks

Book Details

Book Title: Where I'm Reading From

Author: Tim Parks

: Vintage (Random House) 2014

Source: Library

Page Count: 255

Format: Paperback

Genre: Psychology/Literature

Audience: Those who want to know the in depth cultural, lingual and social reason for today's reading habits.

Summed up in one word: Misleading... (+ Intense)

First Impression: I feel that I was deceived and made to feel a little bit dimmer than I think I am (which is not that much anyway). This book advertises itself as one of those chummy, coffee break books that give you an insight into small matters of reading. What you really get is a pretty decent and thorough informing of the lingual, literal and social aspects of how and why we read in today's is A LOT to take in, but I gave it a go.

Summary of the Book:

This is a book about books. This is a book about reading. This is a book about language. This is a book about many things, many aspects of being a reader, writer, translator or publisher. Tim Parks asks, why do I write? Why do I read? Why do we feel the need to review? These are just some of the questions taken up by Tim in this collection of previous works on the world of reading. 

Across 37 separate essays we delve into the insights of a translator, an author and an avid reader. Tim Parks lives and breaths this world and he wants to invite you to see his view of the culture of reading and writing that he experiences in every waking moment. The span of this piece of Non-Fiction is vast and there is something for everyone between these pages. Are you contemplating stopping a book half way through due to boredom of early fulfilment? Are you avoiding E-readers? Does copyright matter anymore? Where I'm Reading From is a journey through the subjective parts of what makes us read/write. 

This book will change your perspective on reading forever, you will gain tools and tricks to help you maximise your reading, understand the content better and find the inner meaning of authors work with the help of understanding language more effectively. Tread lightly though as there is plenty to take in.

My Review:

Credit where it is due...Tim Parks knows his stuff and has a better understanding of language, writing and reviewing than I could ever imagine...I know that...and he knows that too (not personally but the reader...) and it shows. Where I'm Reading From is an amalgamation of Tim Parks' work that is all connected but for me didn't mesh at all.

I love books on books, I get giddy when I pick them up as knowledge of books is something I appreciate. The outside of this book does not reflect the inside one bit. I know judging a book by its cover is a rookie mistake but some indication of the gravity of the contents would be appreciated. The cover is warm, casual and not intimidating. As far as a review goes, Tim Parks set out to explain why we read, why we write and how we understand our language and appreciate others and he accomplished that. The subject matter was respected and conveyed well. My negative experience is hung in the blind-sighting of complex material and the execution of the book. This is barely advertised as a collection of essays and across the four parts of this book Tim Parks covers so much subject matter that a lot of his points are made from his own experience and it didn't sit well with me. 

I have read other reviews of this book and they are hit and miss. Words like challenging, absorbing, enriching and provocative are used and they are absolutely correct. Patronising also gets brought up and I agree with this as well. It may not be great bringing in other reviewers insights into my own review but I was looking into whether this book was just out of my league or if others experience what I did. I got answers from both sides of the fence. Where I'm Reading From is a book to be experienced for yourself, only you can decide whether you can gain from Tim Parks' experience or get put off of books about books for a while,

For those who love the more poetic or philosophical side to reading this was written for you. If you read Thomas Hardy, Salman Rushdie or Arthur Schopenhauer then you will fit right in. Readers wanting to learn more about the connection of words across languages and insights into translation then there is plenty for you here. All those looking for a chilled peek into how us readers tick need to go elsewhere, starting with The Bookshop Book by Jen Campbell (it is awesome).

Overall the depth of knowledge here is impressive, I guess I just could not take the heat in the end and maybe I will return here when I have learned to appreciate the art of reading and understanding language better, but for now I will leave it to smarter people...


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