Reading Out Loud

Yesterday afternoon I read out loud to, well…. no-one in particular, really. I am participating in Newcastle Library’s program Out Loud as part of the National Year of Reading 2012. I even had a fancy chair to sit on. My timeslot was the last of the day, so with Crossing Paths marked with post-it notes I climbed up on the swish chair and began to read.

This was only my third reading of Crossing Paths, my first was last year at Sunset Books and ABC!/sunsetbooks and immediately I realised what an easy book  it is to read from, mainly because of the Bookcrossing journal entries at the end of each chapter. Like mini reviews – these are perfect to dip into and were what I mainly read from at Sunset Books, Raymond Terrace.

My second reading, at Wangi Library’s Books and Biccies in January this year was really more of a booktalk. I spent most of the half hour or so explaining bookcrossing itself and how I used it as the framework of the book. The whole world of bookcrossing forms the structure linking the eight main characters together.

Today was quite different in many ways. It wasn’t so much about discussing the book as about reading out loud. At first I found it a little odd that most people were just walking past – choosing books and borrowing books and looking a little askance at me on the white chair but after a while I just forgot about everything but the words on the page. My timeslot was from  4.30pm to 5.00pm. After about ten minutes I began to read as a reader rather than an author and the experience was comforting somehow.

At some point I heard the Newcastle Town Hall clock strike but decided it must be the quarter hour. A little later one of the librarians came over to me and said: ‘You can stop now, you know.’
I said, ‘Oh, can I?’
She said, ‘It’s a quarter past five.’
I asked, ‘Really?’ and she told me that a lot of the authors reading out loud during the day had been surprised how quickly the time passed. She also commented on the wonderful atmosphere the readings created in the library. It was the first time I think I’ve read aloud without fear of judgement. There was instead the rhythm of my words and the joy of reading.

I hate Microfilm readers!

Firstly, I can never feed the film on and get it started. It takes me forever. I am not very co-ordinated and as I struggle with the stupid reel I feel like I’m back at school. Secondly I need the print quite large so I spend my time going up and down each page so I don’t miss anything. And guess what? After half an hour of winding and bobbing up and down I’m suffering from motion sickness. So, not surprisingly, I only lasted an hour reading the October and November issues of the Newcastle Sun, 1917 yesterday morning but found a lot to giggle over.

One of my favourite things is something called Men and Women Personal Paragraphs with snippets of information such as: “Mr and Mrs Penny returned to Newcastle from Inverell today.” Or try this one: “Mr and Mrs  P Gordon Campbell of Mayfield are spending a short holiday in Inverell.” Good to know!

And then there are strange ads for weird things like Fishers Phospherine, the Misses Tidey and Tinsley selling hats, Parisian Designed Frocks. Yes please. (Actually they didn’t look bad). There was a Mme Petrona in the movie The Panther Woman which sounds like it might give Sex and the City a run for its money and a news item entitled “Twice married woman thought husband dead.” I suppose she thought it was worth a try!

By this time I’m totally over the dreaded microfilm readers and haven’t found any ads for two cafes I know existed in Newcastle in 1922 – Tyrrells and Mitchisons. No more torturing myself on the reader. Instead next Saturday I’m going to do some research old style. I’m going to be flipping through newspaper clipping books, turning the pages leisurely and not listening to the crank of a microfilm reader.

Thank God for the snippers club at the Newcastle Family History Society at Lambton. They are a group of enterprising women who meet, chat and patiently snip out domestic and miscellaneous newspaper articles from the Newcastle Morning Herald and other local papers. Yes, I’m going there next Saturday morning and you might not hear from me again for weeks. After all I went there two years ago looking for the New Moon Dance Club who hosted the 1930 New Year’s Eve Dance Party at the Trades Hall in Newcastle and instead stumbled upon an article about a lost silver purse that inspired my current work in progress!