Current Reads and New Books

Ouf, what a week it’s been. I’ve finally moved rooms in college and am now more or less completely unpacked. I meant to take my camera in as I promised you a photo, but forgot all about it in the general chaos. I will take some pictures next week and tell you more about the move then. It was dusty and grimy and back-breaking (although the college men from the delightfully named Lady Superintendent’s Department did all the heavy book box carrying), but I love the new room.

As I’m too pooped to write anything very sensible, I thought I’d tell you what I’m reading at the moment, and about some of the new books that have arrived in the house lately. It’s taking me a while to get to a review because everything I’m reading is quite complex. I’ve got two novels on the go, The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand, which is a huge chunkster, far bigger than I am usually comfortable with, and which is oddly mixed, with some great writing and some awful writing, and The Heir to the Glimmering World by Cynthia Ozick (published as The Bear Boy in the UK, but my copy happens to be American). This is another well-written and intellectually engaging book, but it’s quite low on plot, and thus open to being interrupted by other reads. But both are books that invite comment, and give me a lot to think about, so I’m taking them slowly and savouring the process.

Then just before I went on holiday I started a little Eastern philosophy project. It began when I happened to read some Krishnamurti, and you know how one thing leads to another. I already had Pema Chodron’s book When Things Fall Apart and I started that (and currently have mixed feelings), alongside Krishnamurti’s collection of writings On Fear. I also began An End to Suffering by Pankaj Mishra, the story on one Indian man’s exploration into Buddhism, which I think I’m going to appreciate a great deal. I’ve also got R. K. Narayan’s retelling of The Ramayana to read and a beautiful translation of the Tao Te Ching, whose gentle, paradoxical wisdom appeals to me most of all.

There’s also been some book acquisition going on. Just recently, all my blogging friends have been going to library sales or buying books for holiday and I was just wishing I could have some new books when I was obliged to give myself a mental shake and to remember that there have indeed been packages arriving at the house at a fairly steady rate. So, to go towards another ongoing project on creativity and education, two particularly lovely books: Fifty Modern Thinkers on Education, edited by Joy Palmer and a wonderful book to dip into, and Maps of the Imagination: The Writer as Cartographer by Peter Turchi, which is full of colour reproductions of some gorgeous and unusual maps. I’m looking forward to that one. Then, I bought a few books on holiday – Good Behaviour by Molly Keane, a one-book compilation of three Jennifer Johnson novels (The Captain and the Kings, The Railway Station Man and Fool’s Sanctuary) and Who Was Sophie?, by Celia Robertson, a family memoir of the author’s grandmother, a poet once championed by Virginia Woolf who fell into obscurity and poor mental health.

I was lucky enough to win a copy of The 19th Wife by David Ebershoff at Gentle Reader’s site, which has also arrived and looks very tempting (I so love American paperbacks and the way they fall open and stay open). Then I found cheap online copies of Joyce Carol Oates’ Wild Nights!, her short story collection about the last days of Poe, Dickenson, Twain, James and Hemingway, Philip Reeve’s Mortal Engines (which is an unusual foray into YA fiction, but a novel I’ve long wanted to read) and finally War Damage, a post WW2 crime fiction novel by an author described as a cross between Patricia Highsmith and Sarah Waters. Well, you never can quite believe publicity puffs, but I was intrigued by the premise (death amongst the members of an artistic and political salon), and I trust Serpent’s Tail to publish unusual and interesting crime.

So you see I have nothing to complain about as far as book acquisition goes! And the nice thing about being physically tired is that there is an extra layer of pleasure to lying on the sofa with a good book. If you’ll excuse me, I think that’s where I’m headed right now…..


13 thoughts on “Current Reads and New Books

  1. That is quite the assortment! Would keep me happily ensconced on the sofa for days–does the Lady Superintendent’s Department also provide tea? 😉 Happy reading!

  2. I’m glad you’re unpacked, and not surprised that you’re pooped! So glad you got your copy of The 19th Wife, and it sounds like you’ve got a bunch of other good things to choose from. I hope you have a relaxing weekend reading 🙂

  3. Looking forward to your comments on THE FOUNTAINHEAD. I’ve owned it for several years and haven’t cracked it open once, but mabye it’s time…?

  4. What a nice smorgasbord of reading you have! Perfect for relishing during these last weeks of summer.

    I once tried to read The Fountainhead, and just couldn’t get through it.

  5. I love these sorts of posts because I am basically a nosy person and want to know what everyone else is reading and buying! 🙂 I’ll be checking out War Damage–that sounds right up my alley! I hope you’ll write about Molly Keane as I’m working my way (very slowly) through her novels (and am only on #2 so have a ways to go). I’ve always been a little too in awe of Ayn Rand to give her a try (the sheer size has put me off a bit as well). And I didn’t know you had to move offices yet again. Isn’t this at least the second time?

  6. ‘Mortal Engines’ is superb and when it came out was one of the most original children’s fantasy/sci-fi to have appeared for years. Reeve’s latest book, ‘Fever Crumb’, is a prequel and I don’t know if it might be an idea to start there. It certainly won’t diminish your enjoyment of the original first book if you don’t, but it does provide some interesting background. has Alex read them? What does he think?

  7. ds – lol! I think the Lady Sup’s department can perform any miracle it wishes! But yes, lovely reads, and if only there were more hours in the day…

    Gentle Reader – it arrived swiftly and safely, thank you, and I’m really looking forward to reading it! The weekend turned out to be very busy with lots of visitors – very nice indeed, but not much reading in the end. I will try to catch up this week. 🙂

    Bluestocking – lol! I can almost hear you saying that. 🙂

    oh – The Fountainhead is very, very interesting, but I’m not at all surprised if it defeats people, not least because it’s huge and quite intense. It’s going to be quite the challenge to write about it, which I hope to do later in the week.

    Becca – smorgasbord is a great word and so very apt! And The Fountainhead is a marathon read that would be quite easy to put down, I think. The characters aren’t at all sympathetic, either! Still, it will be intriguing to try to figure out what I think about it.

    Danielle – you will not be surprised to know that you sprang to mind when I ordered War Damage. I’ll let you know if it’s good! And I bought Molly Keane because I recall you enjoyed her. As to the move, that’s my fault for being unclear. The last time I wrote about moving, I’d just heard that I was going – and then weeks passed in which nothing happened (like all moving) and finally last week I went. It’s amazing how slow these things are!

    Nicole – ah I wondered whether anyone had read it. Even just from flipping through it, it seems strange, so I can perfectly believe what you say. Very glad to hear you enjoyed it, though.

    Table Talk – I hoped you’d mention Mortal Engines. I am really looking forward to it, and will probably go back to the prequel once I’ve read it. No, Alex hasn’t read the series, and I’m half hoping I might be able to persuade him to, if I emerge with a glowing recommendation. Well, cross your fingers for me!

  8. From a psychology perspective I’m intrigued to hear what you make of The Fountainhead. And from a literary perspective I think the Joyce Carol Oates appeals most. Happy reading.

  9. I read the most devastating JCO short story recently – left me traumatised for days. Not sure how soon I can go back there. But congratulations on your new accommodations at college, Litlove – you know we dearly want that photo of the new academic digs once you’re settled.

  10. I’d take your cue and lie on the sofa with a good book but I’ve been too busy wrestling buses 😉 Your book assortment sounds fantastic. I am looking forward to hearing more about your Eastern philosophy project. Which translation of the Tao do you have?

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