My exams begin tomorrow, but there’s nothing healthier than a bit of procrastination, so here’s my Booking Through Thursday contribution for this week:
Avid readers know all too well how easy it is to acquire books – it’s the letting go that’s the difficult part. During the past 20 years in which books have played a significant role in both my personal and professional lives, I’ve certainly had my fair share of them (and some might say several others’ shares) in my library. Many wbere read and saved for posterity, other eventually, but still reluctantly, send back out into the world.
But there is also a category of titles that I’ve clung to for years, as they survived numerous purges, frequent library donations and countless changes of residence. I’ve yet to read them, but am absolutely certain I will. And should. When, I’m not sure, as I’m constantly distracted by the recent, just published and soon to be published works.
So the question is this: what tomes are waiting patiently on your shelves?
This is such an easy prompt for me to answer. All year long I’ve been avoiding certain books, my excuse being that my reading patterns are much too sporadic this year for any sort of committed relationship. And yet I’ve been loaning countless books from the library, and re-reading other books on my shelf. Why is this? Maybe it is because I haven’t had the time to sit down for hours and truly allow myself to be immersed in a book. Maybe next year I’ll be able to happily peruse their pages. Nevertheless, today they remain dusty and neglected, so here’s my tribute to the books that have sat on my shelf for a long, long time
Henry James (see above)
Both these books were bought on a whim – the first, because I liked the title and the second, because I liked the cover. And then they went straight to my shelf. Portrait of a Lady I picked up a few times, but never got past the first few pages. As for the other, I haven’t even attempted it yet. I wish I could say “it’s me, not you”, but I have a feeling it is him. His writing is just so incredibly dense. This, I know, will blossom into something beautiful if I allow myself time to adjust.
Anna Karenina, Leo Tolstoy
I’ve always wanted to love this book, and was disappointed to find that I didn’t. I think the problem here is that I tried to read it during winter, and it got a bit dreary. Maybe I should try reading it in summer; it might make a difference.
The Odyssey, Homer
I like to believe that my bookstore enjoys scamming me, but the truth is that I’m just a careless consumer. For instance, I once bought a ‘full set’ of Austen books, only to find that Northanger Abbey and Pride and Prejudice were missing. Another time, I bought three books – two volumes of Les Miserables and Homer’s Odyssey – for $5 AUD. What a bargain, right? Well, when I arrived home, and flicked through them (my fatal mistake), I found that the Homer one was an outdated translation by Chapman. I’m sure it’s all very fine for academics and what not, but I don’t really understand pre-1700s English unless it has extensive footnotes. How come Shakespeare is annotated, but Chapman is not, hm? And secondly, I found that the print was ridiculously tiny. I ploughed through Les Miserables anyway, but I think I’ll be buying new copies of both. I heard the Penguin edition of Homer is the Fagles translation.
Edit: Recently read Chapman’s Odyssey alongside Fitzgerald’s, and absolutely adored it. Review can be found over here
A Tale of Two Cities, Charles Dickens
Charles Dickens seems to be another problem-author (I never really liked Great Expectations, either, although after last week’s Booking Through Thursday, I pledged to re-read it). I actually enjoyed A Tale of Two Cities – well, I liked the half that I read – but for some reason, I never got around to finishing it.
P.S. I can’t believe I forgot to mention the 2008 Booker Prize winner! Congratulations to Aravind Adiga! He looks like a nice bloke. Even so, I don’t think this book is a high priority on my to-read list. I’m more interested in Toltz’s A Fraction of the Whole. I’ll even go so far as to say that if it wasn’t for the Booker, I wouldn’t give this book a second glance. And that’s the kind of stardom this prize brings. You can be a deadset cynic, but there’s no denying that $87000 and good publicity is a delicious thing.