You are doing a happy dance because both of your latest holds at the library have arrived, wayyyyy ahead of time! Then you realize how bogged down with great books you already are. What a problem to have, right?
Last week has been my first week at work again after having had a three week vacation. And as every year this week has been an exhausting one. And as every year, I´m hitting a reading slump after my vacation (and for that matter an internet slump as well). I haven´t picked up a physical book in over a week and the only thing I could manage was listening to audiobooks.
I´ve finished Stil Life last week and started the second book in the chief inspector Garmache series right away. These are the perfect books in my present state of mind. A mystery set in a quaint Canadian small town, with a likeable main character and with a cozy feel to it.
And to ease myself back into reading physical books, I picked up another one of my Agatha Christie books. I hope this one will be the perfect palate cleanser:
Keeping my fingers crossed that I can break through my slump.
For a such a slim volume, this book left me with many, many thoughts. I think it would make an excellent book club read because the issues it raises are many and conversations could go on for hours. TL;DR version: it's good and worth the read.
My personal feelings about this book jumped around like a yo-yo: at the beginning I was saying to myself "she's describing my childhood!" and in the next breath I was saying "Oh stop making sweeping generalisations about things you don't know!" and then back again to "yes, that's precisely the point!".
This slim volume consists of 70 pages of Quindlen's musings concerning reading and the importance of it to her life thus far (and so many of us).
She makes some generalisations about gender that I didn't agree with (why women read what they read vs. why men read what they read). My feelings (and I recognise they are just my own) are that she's trying to give meaning to something that doesn't need to have it. Knowing what MT gets out of reading Bosch and what I get out of reading Kate Daniels isn't going to give any great insights into my marriage. The important insight is that we share an enjoyment of reading.
Quindlen also touches upon the great upheaval concerning The Canon and the collective wig-out pretentious idiots around the world are having at the inclusion of female and culturally diverse authors. I found this part pretty amusing, because both camps are right and wrong but ultimately doing exactly what they should to move things forward. Do women and culturally diverse authors need to be part of The Canon? Yes. Are there people who want titles accepted as part of The Canon not for merit but because they are diverse, or financially successful? Yes. But this acrimonious tug-of-war is exactly what literature ultimately needs because the titles that survive the brouhaha are the ones that will actually deserve to be called great works of literature, regardless of color or gender. So while I think the fight is ultimately silly, I think it's ultimately vital too.
I was also amused by her attempt to argue the merits of reading for pleasure and entertainment; I agree with her - I wholeheartedly do, but her attempt to relate to everyman fails spectacularly. She uses her own guilty pleasure read as an example, to say that it's ok to read 'low brow' books. Her guilty pleasure? The Forsyte Saga by John Galsworthy, who by-the-by, won the Nobel Prize for literature in 1932. Now, if I was someone who suffered self-consciousness about what others thought of my reading choices, I don't think her Nobel prize winning guilty pleasure is going to make me feel vindicated or proud about my love for Deborah Harkness.
What I do think she nailed perfectly is the subjective mire of book banning and the importance of educational reading lists that focus more on instilling a love of literature and less on Important Books that contain Important Thoughts. She deftly handles the digital vs. print debate (spoiler: both will win) and she definitely, perfectly, describes the sheer joy of reading: for knowledge, for entertainment, for understanding, and for the places it can take you without ever leaving your chair. A worthy and thoughtful read.
Rating: 4.5* of five
My essay on the publishing house Outpost19 and Margaret Overton's deeply moving and supremely timely memoir is live at Expendable Mudge Muses Aloud: My Reading Life.
This slim book should, in a properly ordered world, ignite a nation-wide conversation about the events at the end of our lives. It is a wonderful book.
This haul looks bigger than it is, as the first 4 are the only new books I received this week.
The last 6 are 'upgrades' - hardcovers I bought to replace paperbacks, during the Memorial Day sale at BetterWorldBooks.
I have to say I was mightily disappointed with BWB this go around. I think I have a fairly open mind about what they consider a 'good' book, and I expect their books to be just a little less nice than used books elsewhere with equivalent ratings. But when our order arrived... ugh! The box was well packed and jostling wasn't possible during the very long transit, but it looks like when they packed the box, they shoved the books in without any care - several the of the book jackets are wrinkled or ripped - all suspiciously in the same way, in the same area of the book (the bottoms).
We also got two without any jackets at all, which irritates me, but I can't swear the listing didn't say 'no jacket' so I'm willing to believe I wasn't paying close enough attention.
Ah well, c'est la vie.
Total new books: 4
Total books read: 3
Total physical TBR: 215
Happy weekend everyone!