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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The Smiths were mandatory listening back then when I was a student, but he took it to a much deeper level than most. Finally, I had one moment of unexpected joy and nostalgia, when it turned out, that the one book his parents had and kept on top of the wardrobe, my parents had as well. This is something Mark could readily identify with as he now realises he owns more unread books than time left in his life to read them. He owns Pomona Books and has published titles by Simon Armitage, Barry Hines, Ian McMillan, Ray Gosling, Stuart Murdoch (of Belle and Sebastian), Bob Stanley (Saint Etienne) and many more. Hodkinson outlines his dilemma with an opening story about a recent house move and the need to transport all those books.

From an early age he loved to read, which was viewed with great suspicion by most of his family and friends. Hodkinson recaptures all the innocence, joy and magic of childhood and the seemingly endless curiosity and adventure that comes along with it, and of course there is a long list of delightful authors, titles and bands to hunt down afterwards too. 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. I was amassing rather a "collection" of books too, but soon realised that some books I had kept purely for the sake of it, as opposed to them bringing me real joy, hence my recent and ongoing book culling!As they walk through the Lake District chomping on apples, “I half expected him to suggest a game of hide and seek”.

A recent house move involved 100 boxes of books and so I could relate completely to the opening scene where the author is moving house and friends and family helping with the move ask him why he has so many books and how many he has. 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’. Most people experience this or similar and the pain is such that, in many different ways, they make preparations so that it either doesn’t happen again, and that can go as far as avoiding future relationships altogether, or setting down to themselves a clearly defined coping mechanism. I work in a library and we are fighting to stay open with a diminishing readership as Kindles and e readers take over, and ‘real’ books fall by the wayside. This is intercut throughout the book and, once I got used to switching in and out of the story, I found it touching and humane.And we may be influenced by family, by school, by the system - but we are also who we make ourselves. Yes, this is a pretty brutal review, and I only feel comfortable about this because the book has received a lot of favourable press which I feel needs tempering. The bit that described paraphernalia he's found in second-hand books (inscriptions, frontispieces, bookmarks) was beautiful. It's an article of faith to me to read books sequentially (even though nobody would ever know if I didn't!

He speaks of his 'working class' background with little love, but is also ready to take credit for dragging himself up by his coat tails. From the discovery of a copy in Boots the Chemist, who once were booksellers, to the fact the author still reads the book once a year. I couldn’t find the book about Man City, but there was another title available from Mark Hodkinson, and the title struck me immediately; “No One Round Here Reads Tolstoy. He once consulted a therapist (because he’d got a bit worried about having so many books), who told him they were his metaphorical friends. Regular short paragraphs in italics about the author’s grandfather, Hodkinson’s memories of the man and his declining mental health.Mark Hodkinson grew up among dark satanic mills in a house with just one book: Folklore, Myths and Legends of Britain. Hodkinson has done his back in, but the driver makes clear he is “under no obligation whatsoever” to help. uk) has published titles by Simon Armitage, Bob Stanley, Barry Hines, Ian McMillan, Hunter Davies, Ray Gosling, David Gedge, Stuart Murdoch (of Belle and Sebastian) and many more.

I lived in Manchester around the same time for a while and there's so much more I wanted to know (a sequel on football would be nice! His life story so far is a massive voyage of self-discovery, and he has some achievements in it that many would be justifiably proud of.Delightful, part memoir of growing up in working class England and part love-letter to books and reading. To begin with, Hodkinson adopts a familiar format: the books that made me a reader and this is interesting because it subverts the genre's familiar snobbishness. That was something that I learned from my mother, from teachers at Balderstone Community School, and from life. Books have always been a refuge and, as Hodkinson points out, they will wait when life is a little crazy, always being there for you when you are ready. In No One Round Here Reads Tolstoy I saw reflected my own experience of growing up in an almost bookless household.



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