Monday, 11 March 2013

March Update: Weather, Kindles and Reading Plans

After some promising signs of sun, and the premature appearance of T-shirts and vest tops, the weather is dreary again. It was only to be expected, really. However, dreary weather is good reading weather, and I've been making the most of it. Over the last week I've been reading Toby's Room by Pat Baker, which I'm liking so far. To summarise very simply: it's ultimately about life before and during WWI, art, and family. There are some parts of the novel I haven't been too keen on, but I'll elaborate my thoughts on the book in a full post next week.

As evident by the ever-growing proportion of library books on my bookshelves, most of my reading has been directed at university essays. I'm writing an English essay on the theme of uncertainty that prevails in the poetry of Edward Thomas and Robert Frost, and a Spanish essay on the theme of civilisation versus barbarism in Gabriel García Márquez's Crónica de una muerte anunciada (Chronicle of a Death Foretold). Fortunately I'm enjoying the process of writing each essay, and I'm learning a lot too. That always makes the work a lot less arduous.

But anyway, in this post I'd like to outline my reading plans for the next week or so.

I'd like to finish...
  • Leaves of Grass - Walt Whitman
  • As I Walked Out One Midsummer Morning - Laurie Lee

I've been reading Leaves of Grass on and off for ages. I think I started it at the end of last year. I've annotated many poems and passages that I love, but the collection is just so long. It probably doesn't help that I'm reading it on my Kindle; if I had a paperback copy it would be easier to flick through the book when I feel like it. My Kindle often becomes neglected when my university workload is overwhelming and I don't have long train journeys to take. I'll have to bear this in mind next time I start a poetry collection (I'm sure Kindle-haters are reading this with glee!)

For my Classics Challenge, I'd like to get started on...

  • The Idiot - Fyodor Dostoevsky
  • Metamorphoses - Ovid
  • The Sound of the Mountain by Yasunari Kawabata

I'd like to spend more time on my Classics Challenge: perhaps the Easter holidays will be an ideal opportunity for this, when I don't have pressing reading lists to consider. I've been meaning to read the three books mentioned above for a while now, and in particular Metamorphoses. It always seems to be mentioned in lectures. 

I'd also like to read...
  • A Guide to the Good Life: The Ancient Art of Stoic Joy - William B. Irvine
  • Master and Men and Other Stories - Leo Tolstoy
  • Take Me to the Castle - F.C. Malby 
  • On Beauty - Zadie Smith

Have you read any of the books I've mentioned?
Is there anything else that you'd recommend?


Kelly TheWellReadRedhead said...

Wow, quite the reading list! I haven't read most of the ones you mentioned, but then again, I am not very "up" on my classics...or my poetry. Something I hope to rectify in the future. I agree about Kindles though...some books, especially those you want to annotate and flip back-and-forth through, are tough to read on them.

Brian Joseph said...

You are reading lots of great stuff Lucy! I absolutely LOVE Whitman.

As a native of Paumanok he is part of my cultural heritage!

i am currently reading more Ralph Waldo Emerson and the connections between the two are strong.

tolstoytherapy said...

Thanks :) I'm really enjoying Whitman's poetry, although I think as an American who shares his cultural heritage you must have so much more in common with him! I did just enjoy "To a Pupil".

It's interesting to compare Whitman to Emerson. I read 'The American Scholar" recently which I really enjoyed, and I'd like to know more about Emerson's transcendentalism. Also, nuo matter how much I struggled with the second part of Walden, I know that eventually I will have to return to the opening section!



tolstoytherapy said...

Thank you! I know that classics and poetry aren't for everyone. In fact, I think I'm in need of a lot more fiction - of the lighter variety - in my life! I often forget how much I enjoy authors such as Murakami, and moreover how much more relaxing it is to read their work. I think I shall look through a few blogs for some inspiration!

I tend to get a paperback if: it's a classic that I'll probably return to or lend to others, or if the edition is lovely. I must admit that Kindles are great for the free classics on offer.

All the best.

Andrew T. Post said...

"The Idiot" is on my reading list as well. My immediate reading list. Well, semi-immediate. A pity I had to leave it boxed up in a California storage unit when I packed up and left for South Korea last year. I'll get to it soon, though. I've truly been meaning to get into Whitman for the first time (specifically "Leaves of Grass," in fact) but haven't found the time.

Call me a sucker, but I'd also like to try (maybe you've heard of them) the Four Great Classical Novels of Chinese literature. Starting with "Water Margin," maybe. Your mention of "The Sound of the Mountain" reminded me of them.

Repsych said...

I've read the Idiot and the Metamorphoses but not the sound of the mountain. I might add this to my classics-to-read-list. The Idiot is my least favourite of all Dostoevsky books and we had to read Metamorphoses for my Latin class, so I didn't appreciate it at the time, maybe I should re-visit it.

I totally agree about the Kindle, I use it heavily when I commute but it is a nightmare for reference books or generally books you want to go back to again and again.

BTW I totally love your blog!

tolstoytherapy said...

Thank you! I've heard both good and bad things about The Idiot. I did enjoy The Brothers Karamazov and Crime and Punishment, so it would interesting to read it and compare my thoughts of each novel. I'll be sure to post my thoughts after reading it if/when I do!

I definitely agree that having to read a book affects your enjoyment levels (and opinions). This was the case for me when I read The Color Purple by Alice Walker and Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid Tale for school. Perhaps I'll return to these books eventually, but it's hard to disassociate such books from essays, exams and lots of studying!

Kindles are good for commuting, but I'll always appreciate having full bookshelves and reference books I can scribble all over.

All the best :)

tolstoytherapy said...

I've been meaning to read The Idiot for so long! I'll make sure to find it in my university library this week. I'm looking forward to having my books all in one place after my degree: I always seem to want to read copies of books that aren't accessible.

Leaves of Grass does seem to require a lot of time. However, I do think that it's a good poetry collection to keep coming back to and spending time over. That way you can fully think about what you've read, and of poems individually. Whitman's poems are often so complex and interesting.

I've hardly read any Chinese literature. I think I would like to though, and your suggestion of reading the four classical novels sounds a great way to start!

Thanks for your comment.

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