My New Year’s resolution was to keep track of what I’m reading month by month. (I considered week by week, but I know I’d fall behind. A month at a time is so much less commitment. So here we are. One month down, eleven more to go.
Finished this month
1. Mort by Terry Pratchett
Death decides to take an apprentice, the hapless Mort. Who, Death hopes, will marry his adopted daughter. Of course, nothing goes as planned.
I’m re-reading all of Terry Pratchett’s Discworld books that feature the character Death. This is the first of them. This re-read is part of a larger self-imposed Terry Pratchett project. I’ve been pondering Pratchett quite a bit, especially thinking about what he has to say about faith and religion and eternal truths. Pulling on threads to see where they lead. I’m hoping it will lead to more blog posts. Pratchett seems worth writing about.
1. Reaper Man by Terry Pratchett
About halfway through the second of the Death books. The Auditors think that Death is slipping, becoming too lenient, too human. So Death takes a holiday while waiting for his time to run out. He takes a job as a farm hand. Meanwhile, no one is dying…
2. Children of Earth and Sky by Guy Gavriel Kay
I’m re-reading Kay’s latest novel. I have to confess that the first time I read it, I got to the end and felt vaguely disappointed. But then I thought maybe I was missing something so I needed to re-read it before I wrote up a review. Kay is my favorite fantasy novelist, but I like some of his books better than others. I’m about halfway through the re-read and have indeed been noticing details I missed the first time. Still not sure what it’s all going to add up to or if I will be less dissatisfied at the ending. I’m certainly not regretting the time I’m spending with the book. Kay’s storytelling is still superb even in my less-favorite books.
3. The Drover’s Road Collection by Joyce West
A trilogy of junior novels, set in New Zealand, following the adventures of a girl named Gay (Gabrielle) who lives on a sheep station with her uncle and cousins. The novels are fairly episodic, rather like Anne of Green Gables, though Gay isn’t much like Anne. I’m thinking they’ll be a good read-aloud for the kids, but I wanted to read them myself first. I wish I could find more good children’s books about New Zealand.
4. The Discoverers: A History of Man’s Search to Know His World and Himself by Daniel Boorstin
I’m still plugging away at this one, a chapter or two at a time. It’s good and dense and not hard to read, but I tend to want to break it up with other reading. I’m on the fourth and last section, so the end is in sight.
5. Omeros by Derek Walcott
A post-modernist epic poem inspired by Homer and set on the Caribbean island of St Lucia. It concerns the rivalry of two fisherman, Achille and Hector, over the affections of a woman named Helen. There is a blind man named St Omer, nicknamed Seven Seas. And a wounded fisherman named Philoctete. And a British couple, retired Major Plunkett and his wife, Maud. The language is rich and beautiful, the poem is deeply allusive. I’m reading one section every day or every other day, savoring the language and immersing myself in it. Doing a lot of reading aloud to myself and to the kids. But not all of it. Some of the language is adult and so are some of the themes. It’s not a poem to share wholesale with the kids. But they are hearing snippets.
6. Aeneid Book VI translated by Seamus Heaney
I’ve only read a few pages, this isn’t quite hitting the right note for me now. Maybe another time? I do generally love Heaney’s translations, though even he admits that Aeneid Book Six is one of the harder ones to love. It is fascinating to me what a loabor of love this translation is, how personal it is for Heaney, the result of a lifetime’s work as a poet, really. It’s making me think about the act of translation and how it’s both creative and yet at the service of another author and of another text, all the tensions that underlie the act of translation. This will definitely be one to come back to over and over again.
Brendan Hodge at Darwin Catholic is back at the novel writing game, posting new installments of his serialized World War I novel. I thoroughly enjoyed Part I and am so very much looking forward to this second part. Not only is it a well-researched and lovingly crafted work, the characters are friends I’m eager to catch up with. I really can’t wait to find out what will happen next.
1. The Rattle Bag edited by Seamus Heaney and Ted Hughes.
My favorite poetry anthology, I often have it close to hand to read a poem in a spare moment, especially when waiting for small children to finish their math work.
2. Richeldis of Walsingham by Sally Thomas
Sally Thomas’ haunting poem (or poem cycle?) about a medieval English seer and the pilgrimage site of Walsingham. The sections slip back and forth between present and past. It’s a quiet poem with still depths that tempt you to linger and gaze with the poet into the past. I bought it before Christmas and then promptly lost it after reading it through only once. I rediscovered it tucked away between the leaves of my notebook. Time for a very slow read through now.
Sophie is on an Emily Dickinson kick and I guess so am I. (Is Sophie’s love for Emily inspired by Michael Bedard’s beautiful little picture book illustrated by the incomparable Barbara Cooney? Perhaps.) Emily is such a dear companion especially once I journey bravely past the most anthologized poems. I have to move slowly because you can’t take much at a gulp. But if I just sip at one or two poems at a time such a lovely refreshment. I think someday soon we need to make a pilgrimage to Amherst. Sophie was so very delighted when she learned Emily is a Massachusetts poet.
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Only finished one book! But that’s really deceptive because I’ve actually done quite a bit of reading this month. It’s just that it’s spread out over so many books. I’m making progress, but I’m going slowly, trying to savor instead of gulp, holding myself to a chapter a day per book (sometimes less than a chapter.)
Anyone else want to join me? What have you been reading? Anything good?