07 August 2011

The Descriptive Word

Occasionally, a passage from a book I read not only stands out, but stays with me. This evening, "a sky the colour of old bruises," the opening of A Sparrow Falls by Wilbur Smith, comes to mind as I look out of the window. Dusk is falling, and with it comes slow, heavy rain. As I look at the sky grey, puce, yellow and brooding and see birds circling, I am reminded of that line.

For me, reading has always been a joy and a constant, and comforting when times are difficult. Although I read little fiction, I still find reading an escape whether in humour or more tangibly in books about other parts of the world. There is nothing nicer than than setting down, with a mug of hot coffee and a book and losing myself in other worlds, cultures and traditions or something I have to put down when my sides are too sore with laughter to carry on. There is so much to learn about the world past and present, and a good writer like William Dalrymple or Colin Thuberon will transport you. You can smell, hear and see what they describe. Although no comparison to visiting a place for yourself, these books are portals invaluable to our understanding of the world, and there seems to be precious little of that.

The more I read, the less I understand why people are not able to coexist peacefully, without throwing tantrums usually in the form of bullets or bombs. Is the human race really so stupid? Well, yes, history will confirm that it is and that was clearly a rhetorical question. The brat like actions of those in power, who are supposed to act in a way that benefits the county and the people over which they have power often beggars belief and their attitude to other countries is plain dumb. Perhaps they should read more!

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