I’ve toyed with the notion of reviewing, or at least discussing, the books I’m reading on this blog in the past, but I’ve always been slightly daunted at the prospect of it feeling a bit too much like real work. Years of having students bitterly complain about book reports or reading log assignments made me reluctant to embark on such an endeavour. However, I have often enjoyed reading other people’s blog posts about books they’ve read and found them useful to recommend or suggest books I might want to read. That seems a worthy enough reason to give it a go.
Little Dorrit by Charles Dickens
I’m re-reading this on the grounds of it being vaguely connected with the novel I’m working on at the moment, and therefore able to be loosely termed ‘research’. I’m loving it even more than the first read many years ago (although limiting myself to no more than three chapters a day due to the old copy I own having exceedingly small, difficult to read font and inducing eye-strain headaches*). It is dangerously tempting me to read and re-read more Dickens for the charming commentary on society such as the following characteristically enlightened observation about women and their liquor:
The Snuggery had two of the qualities popularly held to be essential to grog for ladies, in respect that it was hot and strong; but in the third point of analogy, requiring plenty of it, the Snuggery was defective: being but a cooped-up apartment.
The Rise and Fall of Merry England: the Ritual Year 1400-1700 by Ronald Hutton
My current non-fiction book. Incredibly fascinating and entertaining look into both the religious and secular ritual in England. I love the bizarre folk traditions and festivals of this era. It is making me wish that we had more festive holiday occasions and fun (if odd) ways of celebrating them around in modern day New Zealand. It is also inducing a wish that I had read it back when I was studying Canterbury Tales and Piers Plowman given how elucidating it is on the contemporaneous beliefs and customs. Maybe I should pull out the old Middle English texts from the bookshelves…**
I’m definitely enjoying this but also impatient to get onto my next non-fiction book out from the library – Britain AD: A quest for Arthur, England and the Anglo-Saxons by Francis Pryor
Aristotle Detective by Margaret Doody
Just started this one. I wasn’t familiar with the author but I'd just finished God Behaving Badly by Marie Phillips (a romping romantic comedy/adventure in which a bunch of ancient Greek Gods are sharing a run-down flat in modern day London and losing their powers. Lots of fun with petty gods squabbles, a sweet pair of in-love-but-not-quite-going-out mortals getting mixed up and a bit of saving the world thrown in), and it'd whetted my appetite for more books with classical elements. No doubt I shall soon be throwing myself on the heavily-populated Percy Jackson reading bandwagon.
* Obviously, newer, more legible editions are available, but I like reading Dickens from an old book that belonged to my grandparents on the basis that some authors justify sentiment outweighing practical considerations. Besides, Dickens was intended to be drip-fed in serialised form and the more languid reading pace makes you enjoy the rich prose and delightful, if somewhat inflated, descriptions all the more.
** Oh dear. Reading anything seems to fuel desire to read even more books. A worthy addiction if I could just give up the sleep habit I’ve developed over the years.