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…..