Sunday, 31 January 2010

Goodness, keep up, wouldn't you?

9 went down very nicely, Night train to Lisbon (Mercier), a modern novel which instead of doing any clever show-off modern novel things, just told a story about someone who you ended up caring about, in a way that makes you (made me) want to go to Lisbon and learn Portugese, immediately. Such was the believability and the desire you were left with for it to go right for him, it was possible almost entirely to suspend disbelief about things like him being able to read a complicated and reflective memoir in portugese having only been learning it for a couple of weeks. Somehow, this doesn't matter. It was one of those read-in-a-day novels that feels like an excellent use of a Sunday.
Then I whipped through 10 John Harvey Jones's Troubleshooter which I'd suddenly had an urge to read having been spending some dry time reading about corporate governance at work. I'd really enjoyed his Making it work so I was fairly sure I'd like this too, and I did, though it was a bit short - not many pages per pound, which doesn't matter so much when you only paid a couple of quid for a beaten up second hand copy.
Finishing number 6 towards the end of the week has made me feel I'm no one without having read the Russians, so somewhat ambitiously I've started both 11 Crime and Punishment and 12 Chekhov, some collection of stories. I think I'll need a bit of leaven too but you've got to have reading ambition.

Saturday, 16 January 2010

The horror, the horror!

I finished Heart of Darkness.

Also this afternoon I raced through 7. William Fiennes's The Music Room which I'd won through dovegreyreader. It's a beautiful-looking book and his writing about physical happenings is gorgeously observed, but I do wish he'd planned it out a bit better first, thought harder about how he was alternating the sections of the book, etc. It sort of reads like a first draft, before you move all the paragraphs around to give it flow, and he also does seem to get a bit confused about tense. I sense that this was to summon various dramatic moods, and I can see what he was trying to do, but again a re-read by him or an editor might have pointed out that it just made it quite hard to place the action. It's not that I didn't enjoy it - I'm just pretty sure that it could quite easily have been a fair bit better.

I started 8. Walden (Thoreau) a couple of days back and it's quite compelling, though not the most cheerful read. The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation - ho hum.

Thursday, 7 January 2010

More reading

I finished 4 and it was something of a disappointment. I can't believe they broke up at the end! But, I reckon I understand a load more Italian than I did before I started, and if I learned all of the new words then I'd be up by some 240.
5. was A Little Princess, yes, a children's book. I'd put it on my e-book reader from the wonderful Gutenberg and it did pretty much make me cry, despite its quite unnecessary sentimentalism and obviously preposterous plot.
6., which I started last night even though I've already got 1-3 on the go, is Reading Like a Writer. I'd never heard of Francine Prose before I bought this book for my big brother having been drawn to it on a pile in Foyles, but it's just gorgeous. I'm reading it more slowly than I ever read anything because I DON'T WANT IT TO BE OVER.

In other news, I managed my 1 Jan stitch-a-day so I'm now less than a week behind.

Monday, 4 January 2010

Early January's reading

At the moment I am reading:
1. The uses of literacy (Hoggart) - it's sort of incidental to the things I'm trying to study, and is a good substitute for "real" work because it's so very readable. I'm a little bit bothered at the moment by some of his tone: while he asserts his working class credentials pretty regularly, he's obviously moved quite a long way from his roots and can seem to have a slight zoo-visitor's curiosity. Still, I can't put it down.
2. Heart of darkness (Conrad) - I really can put it down, and so far seem to have spent more time going backwards than forwards, trying to work out who's meant to be talking, where this boat is meant to be going, etc. Perhaps this is a punishment for choosing it for the wrong reasons. I desperately want to have read all the books on my ebook reader, to give me a justification for having bought it (justification in whose eyes? I LOVE it and bought it with my own honestly earned money, not even all that much of it) and I picked this one because I thought it would be a quick one.
3. Home (Marilynne Robinson) - I'm not actually technically reading this but it's still occupying so much of my mental space that I feel like I am. I certainly can't pick up another modern novel yet, I don't want to forget about the characters in Home or be inhabiting a different house, in fact I fear the answer may be to read it again and try to get it out of my system.
4. Mistero all'Abazzia - well, it's still technically a book. A pair of Italian students are on holiday in the Lombardy countryside and stumble upon a mystery in a nearby monastery. It seems that there may be soldiers, disguised as monks, bringing heavy weaponry into the abbey at nights. Everyone in the town appears to be in on some kind of sinister secret, and only Marco and Anna can get to the truth. We had a false reveal in chapter 8, where M&A learned that they were just being silly, and had been spying on a film set...but in chapter 9 it turned out that the tramp really had vanished (too long to explain) and all of their films containing photos of the abbey had been stolen. Only one chapter remains and I can't imagine how this will resolve itself; moreover, with the book's being written in Italian and my Italian being what it is, I'm not even sure I'll ever know.
5. There are more...I will continue.