Cold, browsing and cults: Observation Notes 62-63 and Reading Note 26

Observation note 62: Brrrrr. I was not dressed for the frigid cold today. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I was clad. I had thick cotton tights, a long sleeve top, a tunic, a jacket, socks, shoes and a thick scarf. However, today called for fleece lined tights, wool-lined boots, a thick, triple layered long coat and perhaps a woollen hat with those droopy ear coverings. As I had none of these items, instead of walking around Newcastle, I spent a large part of my day eavesdropping into conversations in coffee shops, admiring the current exhibitions at the art gallery and finding the warmest and quietest corner in the library.

Observation Note 63: Browsing. As I knew that I was only going to be in the library for a few hours, I browsed the shelves looking for something short to read. This is despite carrying in my backpack my current book on the go – the storytelling is always greener on the other side. I am convinced that this is behaviour typical of avid readers. I went by the thickness of book spines and found that I rejected nearly all the books in the library as being too long to read. I couldn’t find any poetry that appealed to me, I had read all the interior design books on offer, and there weren’t any 2021 Mills & Boons on the shelf. As an aside, the library’s non-fiction section is genrefied and I found Susan Orlean’s The Library Book in True Crime which surprised me. True Crime??? I mean, Orleans is investigating a fire but I would have gone with History myself. I like the surprise of other people’s categorisations.

After a short librarianlicious while, I finally found the graphic novel section. Jackpot!

Reading Note 26: Cult. I ended up spending the morning reading Marianne Boucher’s Talking to Strangers: A memoir of my escape from a cult . This is the story of how, in 1980, while she was only 18, Boucher became a member of a religious cult in Los Angeles. Boucher’s retelling of the brainwashing she was subjected to, her mother’s measured and calm response in safely extricating her daughter from the cult, and Boucher’s continued struggle with her sense of herself, her terrifying experiences and her responses to other people was steeped with intensity. Graphic novel memoirs are one of my favourite (sub)genres and this one certainly was a gripping read.

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