Monday, November 24, 2014

"And where, pray, is Myrtle's head?"

At last, it's Book Week Scotland 2014! Book Week Scotland, as the Scottish Book Trust's website says, is a week-long celebration of books and reading that takes place every November.
During Book Week, people of all ages and walks of life will come together in libraries, schools, community venues and workplaces to share and enjoy books and reading. They will be joined in this celebration by Scotland’s authors, poets, playwrights, storytellers and illustrators to bring a packed programme of events and projects to life.

As well as events, you can write a love letter to your favourite library, or vote for your favourite character from a book by a Scottish author. You can also make a reading pledge or read other people's pledges if you need a few ideas!

I'm pleased to say that I spent this morning at Morrison's Academy, where I talked to the upper school about Book Week Scotland, and read them my love letter to Strathearn Community Library. I also told them about my one of my pledges, which was to read Sir Walter Scott's Ivanhoe. I blogged about reading Ivanhoe a few days ago.

I made another pledge for Book Week Scotland, and that is to read one short story, poem or novel excerpt by a Scottish author to my family every day in Book Week Scotland. You can make as many pledges as you like, and I felt that it was a nice idea to have one that challenged me to read something new, and one that would help introduce my family to some great Scottish literature. As today is the first day of Book Week, I'll be reading the first piece this evening. I'm going to try to blog about each of the things I read, and where the work is old enough to be out of copyright I'll post a link so you can read it too if you like!

This evening I am going to kick off with The Horror of the Heights, a short story by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. You can read the story here: The quote I've used for the title of this post is from this story by the creator of Sherlock Holmes and Professor Challenger.

I am a great fan of the "Conan Doyle Stories", particularly the creepy ones. I think my personal favourite is Lot 249 (I love ancient Egyptian shenanigans), so I might read that one later in the week, but my daughter's favourite is The Horror of the Heights; in fact, she did make an attempt to persuade me to read that every night during Book Week!! It's an unusual tale about early aviators exploring the skies, who run into some native fauna they weren't expecting, with gruesome results. In the story, "Myrtle" was a flier who was attempting a height record, and fell from an altitude of over thirty thousand feet. "Horrible to narrate," writes Conan Doyle, "his head was entirely obliterated, though his body and limbs preserved their configuration." Ah, that Edwardian ability to describe the unutterably gruesome in elegant language! Perhaps I'd better not read that one directly before bedtime...

The sky: dangerous. 

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