Saturday, December 28, 2013

reading in real life

When we came back from Europe in October I realised how much of my life has become centred on electronic devices, hooked up to Ye Olde Internette.  And perhaps this was becoming a substitute for living in the real world - reading blogs and online journals instead of books. I thought that as well as interrupting my sleeping patterns and shortening my attention span, it was distracting me from deep reading and deep thinking and maybe even dulling the sparky creative parts of my mind.

So I wrote a list. I am a great list-writer and find them a comforting thing in a chaotic world: there are few things more satisfying and convincing of achievement than ticking things off a list.  This is not as military and efficient as it sounds as my lists can be quite elastic - things I don't like doing such as making appointments and talking to real people tend to get moved from one week's list to the next.

So here is my November list of intentions:
 Apart from the usual 'drink more water', the list is really about achieving the last thing - clearing the noise jam in my head. Too much short spiky stuff is being thrust in at all angles. And an excellent cure for that is to read fiction - something I hadn't really done for ages. Between reading for uni and trawling around the internet, I wasn't getting lost in another separate world and getting caught up in lovely rolling sentences. And I used to do that a lot - I made myself sick one weekend by gorging on Jane Austen.

So, apart from uni reading, this is what I read in November and early December:
Four of the Elizabeth Jane Howards were a bit of a cheat as I had read them before but the others were new reads. I'm ambivalent about the Kate Atkinson - the writing was excellent but there was something that didn't quite captivate me. The groundhog day trope didn't quite work for me - perhaps because it seemed so purposeless?

The new Howard (All Change) was greedily devoured in one go - I read until 4.30am as I wanted to find out what happened next all the way through. A very good way of unjamming the head.

As I'm reading Gwen Raverat's account of her Victorian Cambridge childhood, Period Piece, I might have a Victorian novel phase next. And I feel the need to read the Divine Comedy again - once every decade seems about right and this time I'll make more of an effort to read Purgatory and Paradise as well as the Inferno.

And I'll finish with a gratuitous Toby Cat photo.



7 comments:

Nancy Lee said...

Hi, if you like Victorian novels,
PLEASE read Anne Perry.I always feel I'm there and learn some true facts,too.

Kit Lang said...

Toby Cat is very beautiful. :)

The muse has fled these last six or so weeks, and though, in the past I have gone to the studio anyway and forced myself to make small things to "keep my hand in" - this time I just let myself retreat - and have filled that time with - you guessed it - reading.

I gave up my e-reader about a year ago as missed the feel and more importantly, smell of books, so I have happily caught up with Elizabeth George (her three last novels I hadn't read); the new Ian Rankin, a horrific true story called "Click click", threw myself into Austen and Dickens, as well as an old Hemingway favourite "The Grapes of Wrath" and even dabbled in a "Cobbled Court Quilts" installment. (I know I know, but they're like my reality tv - junk food for my brain).

I feel much better now - and have even cleaned up my studio in preparation for some work!

(link to Click Click follows)
http://www.amazon.ca/Click-Joyce-Kavanagh/dp/140910107X

librarygirl said...

I love that Elizabeth Jane Howard series!
Must get the new one, but will I have to re read the other 4 first, maybe just the penultimate one.... X

newlands news said...

I loved the Kate Atkinson, it was the first of hers I have read. It think for me the whole pointlessness of the groundhog day thing made it all the more poignant. Could well have been the combination of novel and real life. Must get back to to reading again. Have been busy and stuck on a stinker of a book......

Janet said...

Oops forgot to sign out of one of my other google accounts..... that was me. xJanet

Margaret Cooter said...

Victorian novels to add to the list - Trollope's Barchester Chronicles, Wives and Daughters by Elizabeth Gaskell, Wilkie Collins' Woman in White.

The Kate Atkinson doesn't tempt me - but I've enjoyed her murder mysteries … can't remember the titles …

We had the Cazalets serialised on Radio 4 - lovely!

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