Looking at my sidebar, it would seem as if all I had manage to read ever since this blog started was just Barbara Pym’s Some Tame Gazelle and Wodehouse’s Something Fresh. And it also looks as if I have been dipping into Sylvia Townsend Warner’s letters and diaries for what seems like forever now. Both the allusions are not entirely true. Truth is, I have been reading from a number of different books simultaneously (problem with having a short attention span and being easily distracted by books calling for attention from every direction!) and none seems to be getting me any closer to the last page (not yet, anyway), thus the lack of progress in books being added to the sidebar. Also, I have actually not been dipping into Warner’s diaries and letters for past one over month now. Will need to rectify that soon.
So, what then have I been burying my nose into for the month of March? It is these.
The Collected Stories of Elizabeth Bowen
I have been trying to establish a sort of ‘Bedtime with Bowen’ of my own since March, by reading her collection of short stories just before going to bed at night. I figured this might help me to be more ‘disciplined’ in my reading and get me through the 700+ pages of short stories in the not too distant future (hopefully!). I have started chronologically with her First Stories (those written before the 1920s) but I think I might want to start mixing it up a bit by maybe reading a story in each of the different classified periods (The Twenties, The Thirties, The War Years & The Post-War Stories) in an alternating order. Like I said, I have a short attention span, so maybe this can help keep things ‘fresh’ and not so predictable.
No Name by Wilkie Collins
I started the book in December last year but as usual had somehow allowed it to be set aside in order to make room for the other books and stuff that have taken my fancy in between that time and now. I finally went back to pick it up where I had left, and am slowly trying to gain back the momentum for this (also 700+ pages) chunkster. This is my first Wilkie Collins that I am reading proper, although I have had a sampling of his other works here and there before along the way. I chose to start with No Name instead of his supposedly best work, The Woman in White, thinking that I would like to save the best for last. But going by what I have enjoyed reading in this book so far, I won’t be very much surprised if I find this to be his best, at least by my preference. If not, then it can only mean that I am really going to be in for a treat with The Woman In White. Incidentally, this book had one of the best openings to a book I have ever come across. Maybe I have not read all that many books in my lifetime for the statement to really carry much weight, but I can’t think of very many other books that had manage to make me feel so drawn into anticipating the unfolding of the story just by reading the opening scene.
A Far Cry From Kensington by Muriel Spark
I started this over the last weekend in preparation for the Muriel Spark Reading Week. This is my second Spark, the first being The Girls of Slender Means which I read last year. I think I am enjoying A Far Cry more, mainly due to the narrator’s voice which I find I can relate to better. Since April is already here, I better step up the gear and read this up in time for the Reading Week!
Dracula by Bram Stoker
This was one book I never thought I would ever read. I am not a fan of the horror and supernatural genre, and have always steered clear of those. If it was not for a fellow blogger’s power of persuasion in convincing me into giving this a try based on the fact that this book is written in the form of journals and letters (which are one of my favourite forms in writing), I would not have picked this up. And once I did, I must say that I was rather surprised at how engaging a read the book is. I am still averse to horror stories, and I see this as being one of the rare and few exceptions where I will find myself picking up a book in this genre.
Apart from reading, I have also been listening to quite a few audiobooks while driving, walking the dog and at the gym. As with my reading, I also need to have a variety of audiobooks which are on-going simultaneously, depending on what I am in the mood for. I seem to have hit a deep rut with Umberto Eco’s The Prague Cemetery for which I had had such high hopes for. Somehow, I just quite lost it in there. And instead of crying over spilt milk, have decided to move on to more promising (or so I hope) stuff. I am making steady progress with Judith Flander’s The Invention of Murder: How The Victorians Revelled In Death & Detection And Created Modern Crime. It is chock-full of interesting cases and includes information on the circumstances upon which Scotland Yard came about at a time when murder stories are sensationalized, as well as how some of the infamous cases and characters formed the basis for some of Dickens’ and Wilkie Collin’s works in Bleak House, Our Mutual Friend and The Woman In White. Interesting as the book may be, it can be a bit tedious at times to listen to all the details involved in the cases and a lil’ tiring to digest all the information provided.
I guess the highlight of the many hours of my listening pleasure in March would have to be Kafka’s Metamorphosis. It is just a short book, slightly over 2 hours of narration but the impact of the story lasts much, much longer. This is the second of Kafka’s works that I have encountered so far, and while I didn’t really quite get the point in The Hunger Artist when I read it, Metamorphosis has probably set me back on the right path to begin appreciating Kafka’s genius better. Although I think I still probably have not gotten quite down to the deeper and bigger issues he may be alluding to in the story, even the little that I could glean from just the surface is reason enough to say it is truly a worthy read.
And so, that was how my month had March-ed by….. 😉
How did yours go?