What are you reading now?
I'm wading through Malcolm Gladwell's Blink. Not as good as Outliers, which I loved.
Re-reading Barbara Pym's Jane and Prudence, (which is my least favourite of her published novels) and The Lord of the Rings, for the first time since my teens.
Oh, do I really have to confess? :cool2:
On the recommendation of the absent arcades, I'm half way through Marx: A Guide for the Perplexed, by John Seed (if arcades looks in, I'm up to page 117 but events have rather overtaken things).
I never got into reading Barbara Pym as a habit though I fancy she could become addictive to the unresisting. I've just inspected my bookshelves and there's nothing between JB Priestley and Joseph Roth so the one I had has obviously found its way to the Amnesty bookshop. But she does create an engaging 'world', doesn't she?
The Lord of the Rings, I think I (still) have but it's never been reread.
.. i am reading The Brain That Changes Itself by Norman Doidge - really excellent, this kind of book is so rarely this good!
Harry Potter - all the books in chronological order.
I have all the Harry Potter books as well - but they remain unread (well, I did read OUT LOUD the first two books to my step-daughters when they were of an age. I had to adopt "voices" for the various characters to distinguish them and I have to admit that some were probably inappropiate - but the kids didn't spot it!). The set of first editions are there as an investment these days.
At present I'm reading Massie: Nicholas and Alexandra. Fascinated by the juxtaposition of a private tragedy (the haemophiliac son, Alexis) and the wider political upheaval, as well as the disastrous involvement of Rasputin in the Tsar's family. If the attempted assassination of Rasputin in 1913 had been successful and the chauffeur of Franz Ferdinand's car in Sarajevo had taken the intended diversion rather than the wrong turning then the whole of 20th century history would have been so different. (But the Royal families of all the European states were such blustering buffoons AND related to each other....)
I just finished reading two classics, and re-reading a third. First time for Melville's 'Moby-Dick' and Stella Gibbons' 'Cold Comfort Farm'. The first is gripping and surprisingly easy to read: I'd always thought of it as one of those unreadable classics, you know, the ones that everyone has on their shelves and no-one has actually read. In fact, I couldnt put it down and stayed up to two in the morning to read the ultimate fate of the crazed Captain Ahab. And 'Cold Comfort Farm' is one of the most wickedly funny reads I can remember: the final metamorphosis of mad Aunt Ada is an absolute hoot.
The re-read was Thomas Mann's 'Doctor Faustus'. A very dark masterpiece indeed and even more forbidding on a re-read, when you know what's going to happen. But required reading for anyone with an interest in twentieth century music. Mann had really done his homework. Do others know this work? I'm usually met with incomprehension when I mention it. Handle with care, I swear I can smell burning sulphur whenever I open it.
For a bit of light relief, I'm now reading Jasper Fforde's 'Lost in a Good Book'. A friend recommended the first in the series, 'The Eyre Affair' and I enjoyed it so much I've started on the sequel, of which, happily, there are several more. Funny, knowing, littered with literary references which are rather maddening to me, because I often recognise their existence but dont know the work to which they refer. The further adventures of Thursday Next, literary detective, and, I suspect the imminent reappearence of arch-villian Acheron Hades, despite having been despatched at the end of 'The Eyre Affair'.
I always thought Moby Dick was one of those classic unreadables and shied away from it but I did pick it up last year and at least begin it (a house move somewhat interrupted the subsequent flow). I also found it easier to read than I imagined possibly because Melville kindly chopped it up into very manageable shortish chapters. I shall persevere.
Jasper Fforde I know quite well and he was kind enough to include me as a character in "Something Rotten". I appear on p345 and following. A little detective work will work out my actual name...
Bax of delights and umslopogaas,
I read "Moby-Dick" in high school when it was required reading for sophomore year. I found it heavy going when I was 15 but would give it another go now. You might be interested to know that the New Bedford Whaling Museum in New Bedford, Mass. has a reading of "Moby-Dick" every year during the winter. Here's their website: <http://www.whalingmuseum.org> Nathaniel Philbrick's "In the Heart of the Sea: the Tragedy of the Whaleship 'Essex' " tells the story on which Melville based "Moby-Dick."
Bax of delights and marthe
Thanks for those interesting comments on 'Moby-Dick'. I agree, the very short chapters do break down a very long tale into digestible chunks. Another help is Melville's clear and simple plot: he does indeed divert and philosophise in every direction, but always returns, as straight as harpoon, to the chase. Bax of delights, dont give up and when you approach the end, give yourself plenty of time, because it becomes increasingly difficult to stop; as I said, I was up half the night to reach the final pages.
Marthe, I can see that for an american high school student, this would be rather a forbidding challenge, because its very much a national treasure, like, I imagine, Goethe for germans or Shakespeare for the brits. I dont recall anyone mentioning Melville in my school days, though I remember completely overreaching myself by attempting 'The Brothers Karamazov'. I failed totally, I think I quietly returned it to the school library after I'd toiled through the first fifty pages, and hoped no-one would notice. As far as I can recall, my first successful foray into 'real' books was about a year later, when I read Conrad's 'Victory'. I still have very fond memories of that tale, but I've never dared approach Karamazov again.
I'm not sure the british school curriculum in the 1960s was very helpful in stimulating an interest in literature. I had to take O levels in both English Language and English Literature and for the latter, we had to study Chaucer's 'Prologue' to the Canterbury Tales, in the original old english, and Shakespeare's 'Julius Caesar'. I quite enjoyed the Shakespeare, but I think none the less being forced to study it must have deterred me, I've never been back to Shakespeare since. The Chaucer was most off putting, both because of the difficulty of the spelling and because the Prologue is pretty uninteresting, being really just a character list. I only discovered too late that there was a rather racy modern english translation by Coghill, which made some of the actual tales rather saucy. But even Coghill couldnt do much with the Prologue.