Monday, June 1, 2009

Summer Reading

I've enjoyed following the lists of summer reading books you are sharing in the blogosphere. My reading includes listening to all of the Harry Potter series on audio-book while knitting or exercising and I've limited my bound book reading to these two (which at a total of 1500 pages is not as limited as it seems).
First is Jonathon Strange & Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke, a physically impressive work of fantasy and historical fiction written in a style reminiscent of the Romantics; full of the uncertain mix of the natural and the supernatural that I appreciate. Imagine Tolkein and Austen, relying heavily on the editorial suggestions of R.L. Stevenson and M. Shelley, co-wrote a novel that describes the real world during the Napoleonic Wars by way of two men involved in the surreal world of magic. For me, a lover of history with a soft spot for the imagined, this novel reads like a textbook that I fall asleep and dream in the middle of. I had the same experience when I read the Iliad and the Odyssey. Fabulous. At over 1000 pages in paperback, I'll be surprised if I can finish this by the end of summer or I'll have it read in a week. You know how that goes.

Next is Doubt: A History by Jennifer Michael Hecht. The subtitle says it all really: The Great Doubters and Their Legacy of Innovation from Socrates and Jesus to Thomas Jefferson and Emily Dickinson. I am only a few chapters in but can tell this will be one of those books I refer to for the rest of my life. I find myself nodding in agreement and saying things to the book as I read suggesting I've either lost my mind, or more probably, discovered an overview of philosophy, religion, and art that expresses my jumbled thoughts on 'It All ' accurately and with humor. Regardless of your state of faith, I would suggest reading this for a fascinating history of Doubt itself and the amazing ways this distinctly human foible has created the world we live in.

So based on my summer reads, one Romantic and one with a nod towards Enlightenment, you might wonder where my beliefs fall. Squarely between the two I suspect, which I describe (with a mysterious air to hide my inability to succinctly express those beliefs) as Heatherist to those who are unlucky enough to inquire. What are you reading this summer?


LauraBeth said...

I'm impressed! I haven't gotten to read a book since Christmas - the Bean keeps me too busy - but will try to read "something" just for you!

The A.D.D. Knitter said...

Reading? Are you practicing for America's Next Top Model by balancing those books on your head?

Heh heh. I am reading a bunch of manuals about teaching Science and Business Writing this summer, don't you wish you were me?

the Lady said...

I just watched the BBC miniseries MiddleMarch by George Elliot - so now that's on my to-read list.

I've also been LOVING Bella Donna by Robert Hichens (old book.)

I loved Norrell & Strange! Such a yummy, dry, with slight quirks book.

I also picked up a paperback in the library that lured me with its cover and promises of magic and intrigue :-) - The Courtesan by Susan Carroll -turns out it's the second in a series, but it stands pretty well on its own. It's actually pretty good!

And I've been listening to A Breath of Snow and Ashes by Diana Gabaldon on audiobook - you must read those! Love that series! Very rich description.

Fun picture! You look happy!

Mom said...

WOW, what a great picture of my girl. I can see Miss A. in your smile. I'd tell you what I'm reading, but, given your two selections, you'd just laugh!

Kathy said...

I really need to start listening to books! Doubt intrigues me.......

Carmen said...

Loved Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell! Doubt looks rather interesting, I've never heard of it before. This summer, on my to read list is Ghost Map: The Story of London's Deadliest Epidemic by Stephen Berlin Johnson, Diary of a Madman and other stories by Nikolai Vasilevech Gogol, and The Outlander by Germaine Guevremont. Happy reading!

Left-Handed Housewife said...

This summer I really, truly am going to finish Taylor Branch's trilogy on MLK. I got halfway through Pillar of Fire (book two) last summer and bogged down, but I'm fresh now and am ready to get back at it. At Caanan's Edge awaits on the bookshelf.

I also have some dream of finishing Middlemarch, which I started at Christmas. We go to the beach in two weeks, where I'll do nothing but read and walk by the ocean, but probably not at the same time.


Anonymous said...

I am reading "Atlas Shrugged." And still chugging through "The Graveyard Book." Hope to get to "American Gods" at the beach next month. May just get the audio. You were right about his voice. Zoe and I like to watch the videos on mousecircus.

Reading aloud with my kids Daniel Pinkwater's "The Last Guru" and Sylvia Cassedy's "Behind the Attic Wall" (one of my favorite books from childhood and the one that started my OCD habits of counting and patterning color--which I remembered when it was too late and we were already reading it together).