Saturday, 13 October 2007

Books I haven't finished reading

By some happy twist of fate, the bedside tables we ordered for the flat arrived less than a month later than initially intended (believe me, this is a major accomplishment for any kind of English furniture order) and we've been able to enjoy the comparative luxury of having a place to put books and sundry reading material, conveniently within arm's reach, versus the previous method, which involved either precarious piles or haphazard discardment of half-read novellae.

In contrast to Sarah, who can get through a half dozen books in an evening from cover to cover, my habit is to continually switch books, not quite finishing any of them, as the mood suits me. Only the most compelling, or shortest, get read cover to cover.

Here's a few I'm working on (i.e., they're on the bedside shelf, bookmarks looking hopefully in my direction):

1. A Confederacy of Dunces. I do like this (and we did name one of our dwarf hamsters Ignatius), but have never actually read it all the way through, despite, or perhaps because of, the admonishments of several highly respected reviewers of my close acquaintance. I yield my backside to your flagellation.

2. Malory's Le Morte D'Arthur. I have read lengthy excerpts of this in a number of Arthuriana collections, and it was the children's version of this in a series of hardback books from the '50s that first captivating me as a kid, but I'm not sure I've done the whole thing as a main course.

3. The Isles, by Norman Davies. I've made it through the first few chapters of this modern history of Britain, up to roughly the Bronze Age, or 118 of the 886 pages (excluding the notes and appendices).

4. The System of the World, by Neal Stephenson. I made it about halfway through this, which is the third book in a trilogy of very long books, and have had a hard time getting back to it, despite wanting to know how the story ends. There's just so many subplots -- which makes it hard to get back into, as well.

5. The Jeeves Omnibus, Volume 1. This one Sarah and I were reading out loud to each other, but fell out of the habit. So it's waiting for adequate attention to bedtime reading.

6. The Lost Colony of the Templars, which purports to describe how the Knights Templar founded a settlement in North America (Nova Scotia, naturally). I barely started it but the prose was, uh, turgid, and despite the salacious subject, it can wait for a rainy day. Also not the one I want to take with me to work lest I be thought any crazier than usual.

7. The Jesus Papers, by Michael Baigent. More secret-history-of-Jesus stuff from one the Holy Blood, Holy Grail dudes. Lots of good info, but as usual strung together with more than a hint of wishful thinking.

8. Tom Jones, by Henry Fielding. This is the one I'm actually making progress on. Despite its length, I picked up a fat old trade paperback with almost no margins whatsoever from a used bookstore, and have been going through it in chapter-size chunks on my train commute. An amazing and amazingly funny book, even more so for the fact that it was published in 1749. If you agree that Richard Curtis (Blackadder, etc.) got his writing style from P.G. Wodehouse, I would posit that Wodehouse got his from Fielding (mind you, the social setting changed a bit in a century and three quarters, but the humour's much the same).

Undoubtedly there are a half-dozen more unfinished opi somewhere nearby begging for my attention to witness their narrative climaxes, and a good many more books on the shelves that I'm looking forward to reading. But what can I say: a man only has so many books he can not finish at once.


At 15 October 2007 16:56 , Blogger Cellar Door said...

I'm guessing you're reading numbers six and seven as a follow-up to the Rat Scabbie book? That was an excellent read, by the way. Thanks for recommending it.

I also really enjoyed Tom Jones- one of the few books I had to read in college that was actually fun.

At 22 October 2007 21:56 , Anonymous Ken Riggio said...

If you are diehard fan of the Arthurian Genre then reading Malory's version can be entertaining. However, I have found the many renditions that were derived from are written better. Malory was a horrible writer. Furthermore, if you are looking at more of an original version of the legend/story then you might want to look for a middle english story called "The Brute"


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