Getting Back to Books

I love to read. It's part of why I majored in English lit lo those many years ago. It's why I taught English. Books, I would tell my students, have the power to transport you. I loved Menolly from Anne McCaffrey's Dragonriders of Pern series. I started with Dragonsinger, moved on to Dragonsong, and DragonDrums, then as many of the series as I could get a hold of. I wanted to be Menolly living on a planet with dragons and the halls and the danger, but mostly the dragons. 

When I was small, I would imagine I was an orphan, or living on an island, or travelling on a boat. 

I lost some of my reading mojo when I was pregnant with Bama. I was teaching full-time, exhausted, read less and less although I managed to read Vanity Fair and begin Great Expectations. By the time she was born, I read only at night, in the dark, on my iPhone. I downloaded free domain books like Alice in Wonderland and The Scarlet Pimpernel. Most of the books were silly. Mister and I shared a few, including John Scalzi's brilliant series beginning with Old Man's War.  

Fast forward three years later and I'm way behind on my reading. I think I read maybe six books a year including The Troubled Man, the last in the excellent Wallander series from Swedish writer Henning Mankell and all of Canadian Louise Penny's Inspector Gamache mysteries (except the most current, The Beautiful House). I mention Penny and Mankell's nationalities because the series take place in those countries and have specific voices related to them. Great reads, both. (The Masterpiece Theater/BBC miniseries based on Wallander is quite good with Kenneth Branagh as the tormented Wallander.)

Two months before Rabbit was born, I joined a book club. I didn't make many appointments until much later in the year. Then I was invited to a cookbook club. And then I started my own bookclub because there are a lot of books in the so-called canon that are referenced by other texts. I'd read Vanity Fair because it seemed like I should. I finished Great Expectations. I wanted more. 

For 2012, the "I should have (re)read that" group started with Pride & Prejudice because it's fantastic and because I realized, in reading it, that I never had. I have read most of Austen, or so I thought. Ha! We followed it up with Kate Chopin's The Awakening, Aldous Huxley's Brave New World (which is very good if you are in high school or college, but at 43, it's easy to see the flaws in Huxley's writing), Elizabeth Gaskell's North and South (the BBC miniseries is terrific), and Ernest Hemingway's A Moveable Feast. I have a long history of despising Hemingway and the world's forgiveness for his misogeny and his crap female characters (seriously, Farewell to Arms? Come on! Whiniest female ever), but I enjoyed A Moveable Feast. I read the "restored" edition — you still can't ignore his inability to name Alice B. Toklas or even Hadley with any consistency, and please, the argument that it's because he writes sparingly because he doesn't spare Evan Shipman, Ezra Pound, or F. Scott Fitzgerald's names. 

This year, the group will finish with Anna Karenina (the Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky translation that Oprah Winfrey read with her book group) spread out over October and November. @sarahm said she didn't want to see my hardbound version (she's reading it electronically) because she didn't want to see how big it really is. We'll close the year with A Christmas Carol. This year, I will have read books by two authors I try to avoid: Hemingway and Dickens. Bully for me!



Jan: Germinal from Emile Zola 
Feb: Ralph Ellison's Invisible Man
March/April: George Eliot's Middlemarch
June: Willa Cather Death Comes for the Archbishop
July: Short Stories  (It's quite a good list I'm compiling, if I do say so myself!)
August: Nabokov's Pnin
Sept: Wilkie Collin's Woman in White
Oct/Nov: Herman Melville's Moby Dick
Dec: Edith Wharton's Ethan Fromme




Thomas Mann either Buddenbrooks or The Magic Mountain
Tale of Two Cities
Graham Greene 
to consider: nathanael west's day of the locusts (and it's short, perhaps read with The Great Gatsby and compare; West and Scott were friends)
Out of Africa (thank you Hemingway for the suggestion)
Native Son
Now, when I look at my Goodreads list, I'm quite pleased. I thought I might be able to read 20 books this year, and I'm at 25 books. Yay, me!


Getting Back to Books

2 thoughts on “Getting Back to Books

  1. Hey, thanks! It’s been fun and looks to get better.
    Faulkner: start drinking
    Dickens: make a pot of coffee
    Marquez: poke me until I wake up
    Rand: no no no, you can’t make me


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