Wednesday, 28 September 2016

What I've been reading: Summer edition

Summer, for me, is not ideal reading time. No preschool, no nursery... you get the picture. Some books still got read, though...

1. Giovanni Boccaccio, The Decameron

Once a medievalist, always a medievalist...
Actually quite surprising, in many ways. Think people in the middle ages were prim and proper and well-behaved (ok, apart from all the wars...)? Think again.

2. Sheila Kaye Smith, The End of the House of Alard.
No pretty pictures for this one, it's out of print (sniff).

This book. THIS BOOK. In many ways, it reminded me of Mazo de la Roche's Jalna series, and I was plodding along, quite enjoying it, and then this happened:

"Catholic Christianity stands fast because it belongs to an order of things which doesn't change. It's made up of the same stuff of our hearts. It's the supernatural satisfaction of all our natural instincts. I doesn't deal with abstractions, but with everyday life. Its sacraments are all common things- food, drink, marriage, birth and death. Its highest act of worship is a meal; its most sacred figures are a dying man and a mother nursing her child. It's traditional in the sense that nature and life are traditional".

There was another passage that exactly pinned down something I'd never been able to put into words about the Anglican church, too, but I can't find the scrap of paper I copied it onto... I'll attempt to post it when I find it.

Also, it smelt AMAZING. Not just standard old-book-smell, but the very best sort of old-book-smell.

3. Nathaniel Hawthorne, The Scarlet Letter.

I felt I should read this. Now I've read it. The end.
(I genuinely have no strong feelings about this book. Then again, I've never got the appeal of Gatsby either. Am I a philistine, or am I just too... not-American?)

4. Liz Moore, Heft.

This one was July's book of the month at our local library, described as "the most unsentimental sentimental journey this year", or words to that effect. Also, as it turns out, rather forgettable - I couldn't remember what the book was actually about when I saw the title in my Goodreads list.

5. Elizabeth Jane Howard, Mr. Wrong.

Elizabeth Jane Howard is one of the (many) authors I added to my list whilst reading Howards End is on the Landing. This is a collection of short stories with a fairly wide range of subject matter. I didn't enjoy the first one (REALLY not my style), but the others were more to my taste. Summer Picnic merits an individual mention, if only for the following quotation:

"One of the babies began to cry. He had lunched lightly off dandelion heads, some milk chocolate, and a Monopoly card, and was now quite properly resisting any further nourishment". 

It's like she's been watching my children or something.

That brings us to mid-August, so I suspect another book post may be coming before too long. Also, Ze Husband has been reading Brideshead Revisited, and I suspect his reactions could be interesting...

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