Wednesday, September 17, 2014

The Classics Club: I'm Halfway!

On the 16th March, 2012 I joined the newly-formed Classics Club and suddenly , hard as it is to believe, two and a half years have passed by which, in terms of time, is halfway. I committed to reading 60 classics and fortunately made good progress during those first two years as this year hasn't been memorable.

I have enjoyed every part of my participation with the Classics Club - the club events, the annual readathon, the Spins , the monthly memes, and with the community at large. There are always new blogs to discover, new recommendations to explore and being part of a group is both inspiring and motivating.

Progress report - 37/60 read

Some of the highlights have been.....

Clarissa by Samuel Richardson.....a year long group read in 2012 hosted by JoAnn @ Lakeside Musing and Terri @ Tip of the Iceberg. At 1500 pages the longest classic I've read and one I would never have finished on my own. There was a great deal of wailing and teeth gnashing but some of us battled on together and managed to reach the end. Not one I will ever contemplate rereading.

Our Mutual Friend & Bleak House by Charles Dickens - renewing my acquaintance with a once rejected author. If my teenage self wasn't too impressed time has changed that completely.
With that in mind I knew I had to do some rereading - so far only Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte but again completely different that what I remembered.

An Underrated Author - Arnold Bennett

Three Big Surprises......authors I had always told myself I would not like and therefore had never read any of their work. A lesson in never assuming I know best and to at least give every book a chance. I loved them all!

East of Eden by John Steinbeck
Mrs Dalloway by Virginia Woolf
Dracula by Bram Stoker

I could never make a list of favourites because there has only been one I didn't like at all - Ernest Hemingway - A Farewell to Arms.

On a less positive note my bete noire is reviewing at which I fail miserably and my drafts list is full of half written posts discarded because I don't feel I can adequately comment on the classics. I need to make an effort to clear the decks even if it's only a simple record or a quick mention.

I look forward to the second half of this journey with as much, maybe more, enthusiasm as I felt at the beginning. So many wonderful classics waiting to be read!

Related post 

Monday, September 15, 2014

Another Week of Reading

I did a lot of reading in the past week and not all of it from books. I've been blog wandering, following links hither and thither, discovering new blogs and seeking ideas. Wanting to do things differently but uncertain how to!
Michelle @ A Reader's Respite has written an interesting post and I agreed with so much of it particularly the reviewing part.
Then I find I'm not alone in my dissatisfaction and am actually suffering from a malady Amanda @ Fig and Thistle has identified as Blog Malaise which sounds a whole lot better than blog slump and apparently there is a great deal of this about right now. So not to worry and on to the books...

The Turn of the Screw by Henry James

The minute I began to read I realised I knew this story! 
A neglectful, uncaring uncle hires a young and inexperienced governess for his orphaned niece and nephew and off she goes to the isolated manor house ......I must have seen the movie many years ago because nobody who has navigated their way through the bewildering maze of Henry James' prose could possibly forget the experience. His style of writing takes some getting used to but once I slowed down and concentrated all was well. Sounds like the classic gothic ghost story but it is so much more - every word, every action can be interpreted in more than one way and it's left to the reader to come to their own conclusion. Creepy and chilling! I loved it!

A wet weekend and I went contemporary again with Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty.
I've enjoyed all her books since overcoming my initial reservations that What Alice Forgot was too 'chicklit' for me and her latest was no letdown.
The author very cleverly creates a suspenseful situation that keeps the reader compulsively page-turning - horrors! a death at the Pirriwee Public School's Trivia Night.
Plenty of both drama and humour against a background of primary school politics and petty gossip. Very entertaining .

Too big for bedtime so a changeover to an early Ruth Rendell - The Secret House of Death.

And of course it is now Mary Stewart Week and I made an early start with Wildfire at Midnight which will have its own post later this week - I hope!

Reading this week...also the start of the two week Diversiverse and I'm struggling a bit with deciding what to read. I started The Swallows of Kabul but the cruelty and brutality was sickening so quickly discarded.

The Map of Love by Ahdaf Souef has been on my shelf for two years and I did love the first paragraph...
- and there, on the table under her bedroom window, lies the voice that has set her dreaming again. Fragments of a life lived a long, long time ago. Across a hundred years the woman's voice speaks to her - so clearly that she cannot believe it is not possible to pick up her pen and answer."

This one is calling me and I will continue to read it but at 500 pages I may not finish it in time to review so this afternoon I tootled off to the library and found two smaller books for this event ...........

Revenge: Eleven dark short stories by Yoko Ogawa
Mr Fox by Helen Oyeyemi
A Study in Scarlet by Arthur Conan Doyle.

Always subject to change, of course but for now that's what I'll be reading this week.

Monday, September 8, 2014

I've been reading....

.....but haven't been blogging and suddenly the first week of the month has gone . I need to write reviews but I don't want to write reviews - I just can't seem to do anything but stare at a blank draft page. the minutes tick by and I achieve nothing. I hope this procrastination and avoidance will soon pass because I have books I really do want to talk about. Until then -  a post about reading instead.
Last week I read....

The View from Castle Rock by Alice Munro which is a fictionalised account of the author's family history. From her ancestor's view from Edinburgh's Castle Rock in the 18th century, to her parents life in Ontario and her own Canadian childhood it's sure to appeal to anyone , like me, who has an interest in family history. Enjoyable reading.

I finished Fathers and Sons by Ivan Turgenev - my Classics Spin read - hopefully I will manage to finish the review I've begun in the next few days.

Unexpectedly we decided to go away for the weekend. This year Fathers Day and No 3 son's birthday coincided so we went and had a lovely celebratory couple of days. On the Saturday I spent several hours alone and finished the book I took with me.

Summer House With Swimming Pool by Herman Koch. I liked his previous book The Dinner but this one, ugh, not at all. That I read it all in one afternoon is an indication of a lot of skimming and if I'd had anything else with me more than likely it would have been a DNF. Modern fiction is not appealing at all right now.

Last night I finished Crazy Pavements by Beverley Nichols which was not at all what I expected( so much better) and definitely deserves a post.

Reading this week...

The Swallows of Kabul by Yasmina Khadra
Wildfire at Midnight by Mary Stewart
The Turn of the Screw by Henry James

The first two are for events that don't start until next week but I fear if I leave the reading until then I will never get any of them reviewed so I'm making an early start.

Another job for this week is sorting out which books I want to donate to the annual charity Book Fair which will be held during the first week of October. 

Happy reading!

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

The Old Fashioned Girls Book Club

Just spreading the word. For anyone interested in an online book club check out the following link.  

"Welcome to the Old Fashioned Girls Book Club! What a lovely way to start September, and I can't wait for all the other choices we have lined up for the months ahead. Rachel and I are both so pleased to have got the Book Club up and running, and we're excited to 'meet' its members, so please do drop a line in the comments section if you're joining in with this month's read. 

September's choice is My Cousin Rachel by Daphne du Maurier."

Sunday, August 31, 2014

R.eaders I.mbibing P.eril IX

It's going to be a busy September! Already I plan to take part in two events  and thought about giving R.I.P. a miss but just can't resist. Hosted as always by Carl @ Stainless Steel Droppings

September 1 - October 31, 2014

Books to be read from these categories: Mystery, Suspense, Thriller, Dark Fantasy, Gothic, Horror, Supernatural.

I am going to participate in Peril the First - read any four books, any length, that you feel fit (the very broad definitions) of R.I.P. literature.

I have imposed a library ban on myself for the first two weeks of September so will have to begin with what I have on the shelf. So far I have found two novellas and my Mary will count so hopefully that will be enough for a start.

Books to be read

The Turn of the Screw by Henry James
A Study in Scarlet by Arthur Conan Doyle
Wildfire at Midnight by Mary Stewart

Happy Reading!

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Weekend Cooking: Loaves, Fishes, and Flowers

In This House of Brede by Rumer Godden

"The sight of the refectory was inviting: each place was laid with a snow-white napkin, a glass of wine, a bunch of grapes, a small wheaten loaf and a brown earthenware bowl of vegetable soup. Apricot puffs and cheese were laid along the side tables. When the nuns were seated, the Abbess came in, wearing a white apron and white sleeves and with her came the kitchener, Sister Priscilla, bearing a great silver silver salver of fish."

"The Abbess went to every nun, serving her and laying beside her plate a nosegay of small flowers: violets, wood anenomes, grape hyacinths, tiny ferns, pink heaths."
The right book at the right time. Joining this enclosed community of Benedictine nuns and following the peaceful, ordered measure of their days through the seasonal rituals and observances brought a solace that I'd been struggling to find in the books I'd picked up recently. I enjoyed the personal stories of the individual women but it was the beautiful descriptive passages of daily living, the garden through the seasons and the family of cats that I really loved.

Weekend Cooking, hosted at Beth Fish Reads, is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share: Book (novel, nonfiction) reviews, cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, quotations, photographs. If your post is even vaguely foodie, feel free to grab the button and link up anytime over the weekend. You do not have to post on the weekend. Please link to your specific post, not your blog's home page.

Monday, August 25, 2014

A Bit of Book Buying

With the exception of three secondhand books in July these are the first books I've bought this year.

I needed to buy for Jane's Margaret Kennedy Week in October and the choice was more or less made for me. From what I read about it I didn't fancy The Constant Nymph but several other titles are being re-released and the only one I could be sure would reach here before October was The Ladies of Lyndon. I love the cover and after a sneak peep at the first page I loved that too so hoping it will live up to expectations. Of course ordering just one book from the Book Depository always seems a bit ridiculous so I added on a few more.

I always knew that sooner or later I'd end up buying Angela  Thirkell otherwise I'd be the last man standing who hasn't read this series and I do dislike feeling so left out. The same could be said of The Vet's Daughter.
I do feel a little guilty (but not very much) buying No Name because I know I could download it to my Kindle for nothing but although the e-reader is useful for some books, when it comes to my favourite authors I prefer the real thing.

So that's my new, new books and I also picked up another three secondhand. I'm really enjoying having a used book shop in town and as we've been away much of August I can feel another visit coming on.

The Brontes by Juliet Barker - I've read this but I wasn't going to let the opportunity to have my own copy slip by . $3 well spent!

For Love Alone by Christina Stead - an Australian author best known for her novel The Man Who Loved Children which I have yet to find but this will do fine for now.

A Breath of French Air by H.E.Bates - the irrepressible Ma and Pa Larkin off to France promises great fun.