What Are You Reading At The Moment? – One Writer’s Random Thoughts

Does reading make you a better writer? Does reading make you a better person? I would answer yes to both of these questions – but I might be wrong.

reading room- man on shelf

What about you? What are you reading at the moment?

I saw an interesting quote today. I was in a National Trust shop in Wales and the quote was on a bookmark. Nothing unusual in that you might think, but what caught my eye, apart from the actual quote, was that the bookmark was being advertised as having been made from ‘Sheep Poo’!


The quote on the bookmark, the usefulness of a bookmark were suddenly not that important – I realised that the major selling point of this particular item was what the thing was made from!

My mind began to wander – who first discovered this interesting use of sheep’s droppings? Can anybody do it? How easy is it to make paper or card from sheep’s poo? Should I give it a try? How would I get rid of the smell? What about making my own journal from this freely available resource?

At this point I had to give myself a good slap before I became lost for ever in the endless, and mindless, possibilities of these freely available natural resource!

To bring some level of decorum back to this post let me return to the ‘interesting quote’. It was by Mark Twain and read, 

A man who won’t read has no advantage over a man who can’t read.” 

When I was working I often used to talk to staff and colleagues about the books I was reading. It never failed to amaze me when people said, “How do you find the time to read?” I never saw it as a case of ‘finding time’ – reading was something that I enjoyed and many of the books that I read were linked in some way or another to my job.

The ideas of the various authors that I read  often sparked ideas in me as to new projects I might engage in or creative ideas that we might try in school. It was my way of keeping my ‘saw sharp’. It always struck me as strange that many of my colleagues found that they didn’t have time to reflect on other people’s ideas and create exciting new thoughts of their own.

I’m reading a great book at the moment by Clay Shirky called ‘Cognitive Surplus – Creativity & Generosity in a Connected Age’. One idea that is developed early in the book is that we often complain about not having time to do things and for many of us we don’t have enough ‘free time’  because of television. 

The decision to watch TV often preceded any concern about what might be on at any given moment. It isn’t what we watch, but how much of it, hour after hour, day after day, year in year out, over our lifetimes. Someone born in 1960 has watched something like fifty thousand hours of TV already, and may watch another thirty thousand hours before she dies.”

man-watching-tvI am as guilty as the next man of wasting hours watching TV. It is easy to plan your evening around the schedule of programmes available.

In fact today it is even worse because there are so many channels to choose from there is always something to watch, even if you have seen it before.

We seem to have lost the knack of turning the TV off. It’s as if we would not quite know what to do or what to say to one another if the box in the corner was no longer working.

If Mark Twain were alive today maybe his words might be,

“A man who won’t turn the TV off has no advantage over a man who doesn’t own a TV.”


  1. penpusherpen

    Interesting Mike (Hi there, been a while) You are what your read methinks, just as you are what you eat, (sort of thing) which brings me to the sheep poo bookmark (no tie in to eating tho’) , as you say, who experimented? Just as who was the first one to find out mushrooms (some) weren’t poisonous? The ‘friend’ who suggested someone eat said mushroom perhaps? 😉 I wonder how many experiments died the death, literally. or how many to come? I read Science fiction, Fantasy detective stories and methinks my mind has responded in kind, mystery is my food and drink ( I’m mainly watching Sky On Demand, Box Sets of Detective Series, Sleep? no, square eyed I be!!) xPenx


    1. Mike

      Great to hear from you Pen, thanks for your comments.
      An intriguing idea wondering who was the first to discover something and how. Trial and error is a great way of learning in some areas and just plain dangerous in others!
      Like you I enjoy reading science and fantasy and more recently I’m thoroughly enjoying the dystopian genre – I love Hugh Howey’s ‘Wool’. What sort of impact this mason my writing I haven’t quite worked out yet.


  2. donaldbakerauthor

    Do you read more than one book at a time? I do. Always have. Right now I am reading Time Will Darken it in paperback. Loose Balls (a narrative history of the American Basketball Association), and on my Nook and phone I have The Collected Stories of Katherine Anne Porter. I like the freedom of the ebook on the phone. I use it at work when I am not busy.


    1. Mike

      I’ve always got more than one book on the go at any one time Donald and it drives my wife mad! I tend to leave them in different places as well, so one might be on my bedside cabinet, another one in the bathroom (I love reading in the bath!) and sometimes a third one in my Studio (shed).
      Before my retirement I used to enjoy reading a lat of leadership, management, educational technology books and alongside those I might be reading science fiction or mystery thrillers.
      Nowadays I find myself reading a number of books about the art of writing. My favourite to date is Stephen King’s ‘On Writing’.
      I also enjoy my Kindle and find it easy to flit from one book to another, as the mood takes me.
      Thans for dropping by and leaving your comments.


  3. mjlstories

    Like you I am amazed at the number of my colleagues (in teaching) who don’t read (and who also bang on about reading to the children they teach!) On the other hand I do enjoy television and I don’t want to go down that road of books good/telly bad. There are bad books (or perhaps I should say books not to my taste) and there is some great TV – and quite a few books I will probably never have time to read I’ve enjoyed at TV adaptations. I like books to be engaging and creative ;sometimes funny, sometimes serious, and the same with TV.
    Currently I’m waiting for a rainy day to rewatch the box set of BBC crime series River – most interesting thing I’ve seen in ages.


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