No One Round Here Reads Tolstoy: Memoirs of a Working-Class Reader

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No One Round Here Reads Tolstoy: Memoirs of a Working-Class Reader

No One Round Here Reads Tolstoy: Memoirs of a Working-Class Reader

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This is a wonderful book that resonates so much with me, time and again I am nodding my head as Mark makes a point that I agree with. Reckon it’s a great read for people from the area (but they wouldn’t read it, as per the title) or the age. He is the author of Blue Moon: Down Among the Dead Men with Manchester City, which is regularly cited as a football classic, and Believe in the Sign, which was longlisted for the William Hill Sports Book of the Year.

I may not have time to read all the books I own, but I am glad they are there and hope to get to as many as possible. In late May, I was reading a sports article about the upcoming FA Cup Final between Man City and Man United. Life, much as we try to keep it at arm’s length or delude ourselves that it falls under our dominion, often ‘blindsides you at 4pm on some idle Tuesday’. There is so much I could say about this author, the book, how much I enjoyed it, related to it, etc. En femma för hyllningen och kärleken till böcker och läsning, men att den också är ganska opersonlig drar ner betyget en del.

It touched one of my own reasons for loving books, which is their materiality, their acting as palimpsests of human meaning and desiring. Indeed, later he has some trenchant and, I think, accurate criticisms of the way that a privileged elite still determine what is meant by “well read” and of how that same privileged elite dominates the publishing industry and the “literary” world. frozen February mornings in flimsy nylon shorts and shirts, shivering, skin turning red, turning blue.

It’s also about a family who just didn’t see the point of reading, and a troubled grandad who, in his own way, taught Mark the power of stories. This particular example functions as part biography, part memoir and part explanation of how a working-class boy from a poor area of northern England came to love books so much. I don’t agree with all of them, of course – that’s just how it is with books – but he is insightful, thoughtful and independent. I was relieved to realise that my own personal library (now at 900+ titles) is perfectly reasonable… but equally terrified to learn new-to-me terms like BABLE (Book Accumulation Beyond Life Expectancy). But his love of books was apparently innate and irrepressible; it didn't seem like he had to sacrifice for it.

Like him, I had a somewhat erratic education (a comprehensive school in East London) and, although I went to University, am mostly self-taught. The big stuff – bereavement, divorce, illness, heartbreak, a global pandemic – crashes randomly before us, splat, and reading becomes impossible with a head and heart weighed with pain and worry and regret.

It’s about the schools, the music, the people – but pre-eminently and profoundly the books and authors that led the way and shaped his life. My suggestion for this book: less attempt at conventional memoir, more miscellaneous hodgepodge of reasons/anecdotes of why he likes books. Much as I enjoyed the book and the muffled echoes of my own youthful (and lifelong) love of reading, my engagement with it began to weaken in the last quarter as the author moved into a rather woeful account of his struggles in running an (admirable) small publishing house. Girlfriends and partners are mentioned but never developed beyond these single references- a conscious decision perhaps not to lose focus from his love of books. I too was and still am bookish; shyly burying my head in a fictional world to escape the difficulties of this one, so the musings on a childhood spent in books is literally like word porn to me.In short, in trying to wrestle himself free from his background he's left with a problematic mistrust of interdependence and vulnerability, which (if I may play the psychologist) is perhaps behind the failure of his previous two relationships. Mark Hodkinson is an investigative journalist, an author, a biographer, a publisher, and a musician. Then perhaps towards the end of double maths in the afternoon, you’d feel an unusual sinking sensation in your lower stomach. That was something that I learned from my mother, from teachers at Balderstone Community School, and from life. Despite his difficulties, it is obvious that his grandfather was deeply beloved by his family and that he was a kindly and well-liked man.

However, be aware this is a book-biography not a personal biography, so if you were interested in Mark Hodkinson’s life, beyond his childhood, its almost completely absent. The book starts off very much a biography of Mark's reading then suddenly around page 200 football is mentioned. Growing up a working-class lad during the 1970s and 1980s was for most of his peers a book free experience. The parallel story about his grandfather's schizophrenia was a nice idea but I found little connection between this story and reading, so seemed ultimately irrelevant. The young Hodkinson read those books but found the protagonists too earthbound, too fixed in their northern locales.Then the memoir element begins, a running thread that describes Hodkinson's relation to his schizophrenic grandfather. The bit that described paraphernalia he's found in second-hand books (inscriptions, frontispieces, bookmarks) was beautiful.

  • Fruugo ID: 258392218-563234582
  • EAN: 764486781913
  • Sold by: Fruugo

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