MITCHELL’S MUSINGS: A story to tell

I always feel a sense of triumph when I finish reading a book – like a real, hardcover, bonafide, with a binding and real pages

I always feel a sense of triumph when I finish reading a book – like a real, hardcover, bonafide, with a binding and real pages, and with a capital, Book.

So I’m sharing. And I hear they are making a comeback anyway so maybe I’m hipper than I think I am. I highly doubt it though.

The reason I can’t seem to finish, or even start, books is there’s always newspapers and magazine subscriptions that keep coming week after week, and then there’s that Internet thing and TV and chores and life and so on.

But I’ve been making a real effort to take time to read as a hobby or relaxation, even though my day job largely consists of reading and editing etc. However, it’s nice to read something you’re not responsible for and you have no intention of reading critically, well for the most part.

And once upon a time, I used to read nothing but fiction. Being an English major was maybe part of it but I always thought the novel was superior to an autobiography on the interest scale and ironically maybe even the believability scale.

You see I viewed autobiographies as largely self-serving and biased – after all how could they not be when it’s about the person involved and their slant on how their life played out.

They are going to include more of the good parts and less of the bad parts and, being human, we’re always a little worried about how we’re remembered or perceived, not to mention it’s always easier to be objective and honest about someone else’s lives, we do it all the time.

However, when it comes to analyzing our own, most of us have trouble coming clean for fear of harsh judgements, and then there’s the denial and naive factors that come into play.

Not to mention I don’t know about you but as I get older I forget more and more and I’m supposed to be an authority on how I got to this point in my life? Hardly.

And also the stories that I believe to be true have been told so many times, and likely embellished along the way for my own amusement, that they no longer fit into the non-fiction category of the library.

And then there’s that word non-fiction. I always thought it was odd that we put the ‘non’ prefix in front of a word to label something as a true account.

Shouldn’t the ‘true’ account, rather than the ‘not-true’ account, be labelled with a root word rather than have to have a ‘non’ in front of it? If that makes any sense at all?

It’s like you have to defend your truth with a ‘non’ attachment – “It’s true I tell you. It’s not fiction.”

All of that aside, finally, I respect famous people who at least try to share some insight into how they got to where they are today so the rest of us can learn from it.

And if they didn’t get it all exactly right? Who am I to judge, like I could pull off a ‘non-fiction’ version of my life that’s accurate, informative and interesting enough to keep people reading? Nope.

Maybe I’m more into biographies lately cause I’m advancing in age and have the utmost of respect for anyone whose made their mark in life.

Plus people keep giving me these books as gifts for some reason so I might as well read them.

So in the last several months I have read autobiographies by Neil Young, Bobby Orr, Bruce Cockburn and Chris Hadfield.

All Canadians by the way. All national treasures. All have made contributions that leave legacies that will live on for generations.

But also a very diverse group who are all incredibly gifted in their own right and achieved fame and some degree of fortune by very different paths.

I enjoyed them all, recommend them all and congratulate all concerned for giving an honest if maybe too humble account of their lives for all of us to learn from.

But, then, they are Canadians after all.