Ant Cule Reviews... Being Alive

An Extremely Subjective View of Being A Human

Category: Books

Ant Cule Reviews… Reading Until It Gets Dark

I returned to my reading nook. A red armchair with a footrest next to the bookshelf. The door to the balcony was open; the sound of children playing in their gardens drifted through the cool, post-rain evening air.
I was only reading a short book, 40 pages from the end. So I just kept reading, and the light, without me noticing grew fainter and fainter. I was in another place; in California with Oedipa Maas trying to figure out the ins and outs of ancients postal systems. And then, before I knew it, I was reading by the street-light outside our balcony.

This is what I was reading

It took me back to reading by the light from the landing coming in under my bedroom door; reading the book of the film of The Jungle Book. I remember the drawings. The feeling of breaking some rule, but being too engrossed to care. I can’t remember if I was ever caught.
I probably was.
Overall, I highly recommend reading until it gets dark. It’s soothing and relaxing and can be an unexpected trip down memory lane. You could also try having a warm bath and watching childhood videos. If you have a VHS player.  And a bath.

Ant Cule Reviews… Discovering A Pristine Notebook

I’m a man who loves stationary. I can spend up to an hour in Paperchase. I could spend a portion of time in Waterstones looking at the stationary. Rymans is perfectly nice too. The point is, I really love stationary. Actually, I really love paper. Pens are okay, though often seem overpriced to me. Paper though. Whooph. You can’t put a price on that.

Where does it come from? My love of books? My love of tactile experiences – like dipping my hand in a bag of seeds, errrrrm YES PLEASE! ? What is it about blank notebooks and pads of paper that keep me coming back? I mean, I have gadgets, I have plenty of digital storage places that are much more convenient for note taking than actual paper. So why do I keep just seeing what they have if I stroll past a stationary shop?

On my desk, which is pretty messy, I have books and notebooks just about everywhere. This morning, I looked through a selection of four – in two of them were notes from around this time last year, when I was tutoring at UEA. Another had been designated my ‘book club’ notes – really interesting to read again, by the way. And also, who wants to start a book club, friends??! – and the fourth and final one, conveniently, fatefully at the bottom of the pile… A total blank. Crisp, clean, clear white pages (well, a kind of cream colour – premium paper grade). An optimistic little clutch of pages waiting for ideas to be expanded upon, waiting for thoughts to be jotted down, waiting… Waiting… Full of poise, promise, potential, paper. Full of the possibility of becoming pages of notes that I’ll look over in another year’s time, and briefly be transported back to where I am now.

There’s something personal, isn’t there, about handwriting notes. As if your thoughts are travelling down from your brain, into your shoulder, along your arm, into your fingertips and out onto the page through the conduit we call a pen. Your handwriting is what it looks like inside your head. My handwriting is loopy.

Evernote, much as I like and use it simply can’t compete with that ancient, infinitely flexible, physically strenuous (sometimes) act. It makes it too easy. Writing should be hard. It should be messy handwriting, crossed out misspelt words. It should be the physical embodiment of you wrenching your ideas out. It should be challenging. And sometimes it takes finding a new, unblemished notebook to remind you of that, and all the possibilities that a blank page holds.

Overall, I highly recommend discovering a pristine notebook and jotting something down in it. Even if you forget about it for a year or more, it only makes its rediscovery more rich for future you. For a similar experience, buy or steal a new notebook. (don’t steal)

A notebook. What will you write in it? NB. Do not attempt to write in this notebook, it is merely an image of a notebook.


Ant Cule Reviews… Returning From A Holiday

On the off chance you’ve checked in here over the last week or so and wondered “What the-? Where are all the reviews at?!” let me tell you this: I’ve been on holiday.

We had something of a staycation (as modern parlance has it) and went to Centre (Center?) Parcs. And very relaxing it was too, being in a foresty environment, all bracing walks and cosy evenings in. A very refreshing break.

And now we come to the nub of the review. Returning from a holiday. It’s a different beast entirely to going on holiday. Returning from a holiday signals the end of “official” relaxing time, and the beginning of “feeling guilty for relaxing because it means you’re not being productive” time, aka what the world is pretty much like.

Returning from a holiday always leaves me grateful for the time I’ve had to relax and to read and watch films without the back-of-the-head-tingling feeling that I could and should be doing something else. Why is it that a holiday is the only place I permit myself those pleasures – and pleasures they are for I love relaxing and reading and watching films – without nagging myself?

And I certainly still do these things whilst not “on holiday”, it’s just I feel bad for doing them. For doing them in the day especially. That is something that feels like a luxury when not “on holiday” and like a real delight, like how I would love all day every day to be when “on holiday”. What are these arbitrary distinctions we impose on ourselves? I’m constantly amazed by the invisible worlds we construct for ourselves and the rules we choose to live by. I’m sure that’s probably come across if you’ve read more than a handful of these reviews.

Overall, I would not recommend returning from a holiday, and implore you instead to reserve a little holiday spirit for even those times when you don’t consider yourself “on holiday”. We could all do with relaxing a little more, I reckon.

Ant Cule Reviews… Getting A Reading Nook

This weekend saw the addition of a few of attractive new members of the household.

A couple of lovely red armchairs arrived – hand-me-downs really, from my parents. No, I don’t think it’s weird to describe armchairs as ‘attractive’, why do you ask?

They will provide lovely seats for when we have guests, and also for when we wish to sit down.

But I’m not here simply to gloat about now being able to sit down to eat my dinner. No, no. I’m here to gloat about other things as well.

You see, I’m very excited about where we’ve positioned one of the chairs. What do you mean you wouldn’t really consider armchairs ‘new members of the household’?

Previously I might have had to stand to peruse our bookshelf. But now:

One of the chairs, situated by the book shelf, thus becoming a reading 'nook'

One of the chairs, situated by the book shelf, thus becoming a reading ‘nook’

I can sit! I can sit and look at books!

I love to have a chair to sit in and have a book on my lap whilst I idly flick through my twitter feed. And now I have one right next to a bookshelf! I’m going to look very distinguished in my attractive new member of the household.

Overall I would recommend getting a reading nook by putting a chair next to a bookshelf. For a similar effect, drag a bookshelf with you wherever you go for a portable, permanent reading nook wherever you sit down!