Thursday, 21 August 2014

Library Haul and a Longing for Learning

I had to pop into my local library today to return a book that somebody else had reserved and with nothing else to do, I decided to spend an hour browsing the stacks. I already had two books that I took out a few weeks ago but that didn't stop me borrowing eight more today!
The first thing I did was head straight for the crime section and grab the next three books in the Dexter series by Jeff Lindsay. I'm halfway through the first in the series and thought I'd get my hands on the next ones while they were in stock. And then I had a quick look at the graphic novels and comicbooks and stumbled across a copy of Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman. I read the novel earlier this year and loved it so I can't wait to see how it translates to the graphic format.

I thought I was done by this point but for some reason I headed upstairs to the Non-fiction section and found myself grabbing a handful of intriguing factual books.
I've been wanting to read a Mary Roach book for a while now and despite getting my hands on a second hand copy of Stiff last week, I still couldn't resist borrowing Six Feet Over. Blood caught my eye as I was browsing the Science books. Working in a blood science lab has left me wanting to know more about the stuff that flows through my veins. Faery Tale was another impulse grab. It's the memoir of a woman who, in search of meaning in her life embarks on a journey into the world of paranormal phenomena like Faeries and other cool things. The last book, Israel and Palestine is a history of the conflict from its beginning until fairly recent events. This is something I've been wanting to read about for a while now. My Grandad was born in Haifa and lived there until he was ten. He never talked about his life there and I guess I have this idea that finding out about the history of the region might give me some kind of inkling into my own history, you know.

I wasn't intending to get any non-fiction books from the library but something just drew me up the escalator into that part of the area. Lately I've had this yearning for knowledge, to learn something new or to read about the things I used to know a lot about (does anybody else find that knowledge fades from your mind when you no longer have a use for it?) I graduated from University six years ago now and recently I've really begun to miss that environment. I miss lectures and seminars. I miss reading three books a week for various classes. I miss researching and writing essays, spending hours in the university library eating chocolate and getting highlighter all over my fingers.

I would love to go back to University and get my Masters degree but I know it won't happen. The only place in the country to get a Masters in American Studies is in London and I guess I don't feel like an American Literature course would suit me. I've never really contemplated doing a Writing Masters either. I feel sort of like there's not much I could learn about writing that I didn't learn at Undergraduate level and that I can't learn through the act of writing itself.

But maybe I don't need to go back into the world of academics. Maybe all I need to do is try and actively learn. Not being in work has left me feeling a little lost, in limbo sort of. I think what I need to do is try and use some of my spare time to teach myself things. Not necessarily a language or anything else so specific. More like just reading about the things that interest and fascinate me. I want to read books about Science and Psychology, about Feminism and History and Religion. I want to broaden my knowledge base and open up my mind. And so I'm going to stop letting my mind rot just because I'm not at work or in education. I'm going to stop using my mental health issues as an excuse to stagnate and actually start to learn again. I'm actually pretty excited about it. I think that in some way, it may help with my writing too. Learning new things always sparks new ideas in your mind, helps build connections between things. I think it could make my writing richer.

I'm sorry if this post was a bit of a rambling, navel gazing piece but this stuff was on my mind. Do any of you guys get what I mean? I know some of my regular readers are University graduates. How do you feel now that you're no longer in education? Do you miss learning? Do you still try and learn new stuff on your own?


  1. I definitely get where you are coming from. Sometimes I feel like there is so much out there that I know little about and I yearn to find out more. I miss the uni learning experience too. It made me look at things a different way and the idea of "art" and "culture" changed, but since leaving I can often find myself binge watching rubbish reality tv a bit too much. Nothing wrong with a bit of trash but I may have to start building up the brain cells fried by one too many episodes of Judge Judy! You've inspired me :) Happy learning! xxx

    1. I loved the randomness of some of the things we learnt at Uni - "piss flowers" and the history of McDonalds? We don't really need to know those things but it's what made the experience great

  2. I know what you mean, I love learning things and I when I left uni 10 years ago I really missed that environment. I then ended up working in a library, which was great as you were constantly learning stuff from all the books you saw. Now I work in a university (doing admin) which means I can learn from all the papers and research around me and I'm doing a Masters (very very slowly) through distance learning.
    I think it's important just to keep on being inquisitive about everything, keep asking questions and you'll keep on learning! :-) xx

    1. It's great to know that others have been through the same kind of thing. I guess it's normal after being in education for so long to feel sort of lost. Thanks for the advice :)


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