By Alison January 21, 2013 7 Comments 2 Min Read

I have been trying to explain this peculiar phenomenon to anyone who will listen: sometimes I love a book so much I simply cannot bear to read it. I stroke it and I open it and stare at the pattern the words make on the page and sometimes I even sniff it, but I seem to have to enjoy something of an old-fashioned courtship with certain books before I can even begin to dig in and devour them…
Yes. I have been trying to explain it and frankly those I have tried to explain it to look at me as if I have just described a penchant for eating baked fennel completely starkers.

It isn’t a common occurrence. In fact these books I revere to such a degree are few and far between. Nor does it apply to the entire repertoire of a particular adored author. I can for example read all of Sarah Ban Breathnach’s work all day long, but I reserve a special place in my heart for Romancing the Ordinary and very, very rarely pick it up. And the same goes for Nigel Slater. I can manage Tender and Real Fast food and it’s ilk but the thought of reading his Kitchen Diaries on a whim, without due respect and something like a prayer of thank-you’s strikes me as preposterous.

I consider wordy excellence to be something of a beautiful gift and yet at the same time as revering such words I also fear them. I worry I will absorb them and take them so to heart I will come to believe I own them and thus allow their influence to seep into my own writing. This then also explains why there are certain blogs in this beautiful on-line land of ours that I simply cannot bear to read. Take for example Posie Gets Cozy. Word and pictures that make me want to weep in wonder. And sometime I do: almost as act of worship.

And then there are words that appall me. Words I obsess over. There is for example a blogger who shall have to remain nameless who makes my entire being seethe. It is irrational of course. She is after all a human being entitled to all the idiosyncrasies and snark we all are. But something inside me is made prickly by her very existence and so I cannot help but pour over every slightly rubbish word this prolific woman writes. In an obsessional fashion. And though I am absolutely mortified to be admitting this, I am so fascinated by my urge to punish myself by reading her, that I cannot help but confess it here.

What then are we to make of these confessions? Why would I hold some words in such high regard I cannot read them while eagerly devouring badly drawn sentences from authors I cannot tolerate?

What does it say about me that I should so willingly deprive myself of pleasure while seeking out the kind bad writing that gives me a throbbing headache? 


  1. chrissie says:

    Heartening to read this. I have three monthly homes mags posted to me and cannot bear to open them at once. Can often be days before I tentatively open a page. I wonder if once I see all then the thrill be lost ? Feel good fessing up ! Cheers ! X

    1. brocantehome says:

      Oh Chrissie yes! Magazines are definitely part of this phenomenon… I can barely bring myself to open Simple Things. And you are right… perhaps it is a fear of disappointment…

  2. Colleen says:

    This definitely happens to me with any highly anticipated media (or with things I KNOW are delicious) – I think it stems from several things, namely worry that fun will end too quickly and leave one melancholy, and also that the inspirational nature of what we are about to experience will require change on our part, which, while we desire it, is always frightening and/or seemingly burdensome.

    1. Colleen says:

      I forgot – the desire to wallow in things that anger or disturb us is, I think, a rather ironic self-defense mechanism; if we deal with these things now, they are no longer an unknown waiting to descend upon us. Also, we are more comfortable with negative emotions, as they are unfortunately often more familiar and therefore comfortable (going back to my previous comment about change being scary).

  3. Kathleen says:

    There are a number of magazines (several British based) that I wait to read. I can’t simply have a flip through and then go back later- the magic would be lost. I must have the free time, a nice pot of tea and a warm fire in the winter or a cool drink and a nice comfy spot to take my time and enjoy the written word and lovely photos that these publications offer. Its for this very same reason that I can not enjoy reading certain publications or books while waiting at the doctors. Too many distractions.
    I reread the Sarah Ban Breathnach books and anything by Alexandra Stoddard daily, usually picking up a book and reading a page at a time as I pass by. However, there are passages in these books that I will skip over and only read when I can take the time to concentrate and savor what is written.

    As a Oregon, US resident, where Posie Gets Cozy is located, I will not miss checking her blog. I find it fascinating that we go to the same places, shop at the same stores, fabric shops and so on, yet I have no idea if we have ever actually crossed paths. Even when we have been at the same places on the same day. I find it comforting to see that others like and do the same things I do. Some times the blog posts make me sad, but I still wouldn’t miss them. I also think that her photography of our area is wonderful.

  4. Mimi xx says:

    Oh my, but I know so well those feelings! And the feeling sometimes, of having read a book, finished it, but cannot put it back on the bookshelf, or return it to the library. I just have to have it near me, for a while. And sometimes, I hate when I feel that way about a library book, because although I can buy a new copy, or look out for a secondhand copy, that copy, that particular one, will be gone. It is so wonderful to find that other people are out there like me, to have that connection, that moment of recognition, of yes, me too, me too.

  5. Lynn says:

    This sums up how i feel about Brocante Home, almost too good to read!!

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