October Reading Notes

Currently reading Balzac’s The Girl with the Golden Eyes. Oh ho ho, such an innocuous, picturesque title for a malicious and snarky little novella. Really, it’s very slim. I’m not even actually ‘currently reading’ it; two evenings ago when I began typing up this post I was, but then I finished it by tonight – and it only took little snippets of time here and there to read the whole thing. I reckon if I had a full hour or two to do nothing but read, I could certainly finish it in that time.

Haven’t read any Balzac before this so don’t know what he’s normally like, but he rather reminds me of Monsieur Victorrr Hugo. No, not really. It’s more that his writing is infused with that style of prose typical to 19th century writers, i.e. they insert slabs of philosophy, religious discourse and politics wherever they see fit. It’s seems to be a habit – almost tradition – of all the ‘greats’: Tolstoy, Hugo, even to a lesser extent Dickens, and Rushdie today (see Comments of previous post for extensive discussion on pompous, head-swollen writers).

Speaking of Dickens, I don’t know what induced me to do it, but I went to the bookstore and bought a fat Wordsworth volume of his shorter novels. I think it was Rebecca’s post on Oliver Twist that sparked my hatred for him into an obssession to conquer! I must and will read a Dickens, and not think it abominable, etc etc., and while I’m in that sort of mind frame I might as well read four. Also, from the library this week:

  • Norwegian Wood, Haruki Murakami: the title of this book sounds so, so lovely and prompted by uncertainprinciple‘s equally lovely post (you’ll have to dig through the archives to find it) I finally convinced myself to read it! Interestingly enough, I’ve actually been reading a lot of books from the Someday List this year! Now I’m roughly halfway through the list; it’s very encouraging to see myself seeing things through :)
  • The Catcher in the Rye, J. D. Salinger:  really, I’ve been meaning to read this book since I was ten.  Better read it before I turn 20 (apparently, the older you get, the less loveable the book is likely to be?)
  • The Bell Jar, Sylvia Plath: I’ve always liked Plath as a poet, not sure how much I’ll appreciate her as a novelist, but how can I ignore this book? It’s one of those books I feel I need to read, regardless of whether I’ll like it or not.
  • Ethan Frome, Edith Wharton: I have The Age of Innocence on my shelf, but haven’t had much luck with it. Maybe I’ll enjoy this one?

Unfortunately, most of my time is spent away from home (i.e. on campus, at the library drowning in assignments, etc), so I’m finding it harder to fit in War and Peace and Kristin Lavransdatter. They’re too heavy to carry around!

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12 thoughts on “October Reading Notes

  1. What Dickens have you tried before?

    And don’t worry, The Bell Jar is suprisingly humorous as well as affecting, it’s a pity Plath only wrote the one novel.

    1. Hmm, I’ve tried Great Expectations, A Tale of Two Cities, Little Dorrit and A Christmas Carol. Never completed any of them, though I almost got there with the first two.

  2. The Bell Jar is one of my favorite books, but then again, I’ve never read any of Plath’s poetry.

    I need to remedy my lack of Balzac, too.

    1. Hmmm, I’m glad to hear such good things about The Bell Jar. I know it’s Plath and all, but from what I’ve heard about it, it’s sounded an awful lot like some chicklit novel (Devil Wears Prada, or something) … But I suppose ‘plot summaries’ can be very misleading.

  3. I just picked up Catcher in the Rye at the library. I, too, have been meaning to read the book for “decades” and not quite sure why I have waited so long.

    1. Yay! Well, I can guess why? Because there are so many great books out there, and it’s hard to choose one over the other? That’s why I keep ‘forgetting’ to read it, anyway.

  4. I think we finally have a Balzac in our possession, though I’ve never read him ever. Your review of Golden Eyes makes me want to, though!

    Good luck with the Dickens! (Ha, I just remembered that “dickens” was always kind of used as a negative word in my house growing up, see: “You scared the dickens out of me!”) I may gradually work my way up there… I’m slowly easing my way back into the classics, and hopefully this will allow me to ultimately conquer Great Expectations. But for now I’ll stick with Jane Eyre, which suits me just fine! ;)

    (Oh, also, I hope you enjoy Catcher in the Rye. It’s been 10 years since I last read it, and I loved it to bits then!)

    1. Heheh, I suppose it’s a sort of half-review.. I was planning on posting more thoughts later on this week. Just feeling so lazy; weather’s a drag these days. LOL @ Dickens-sayings. Maybe you dislike Dickens because of some obscure psychological reason?

      Read the first page of Catcher in the Rye, and had this sudden memory of me reading the first pg when I was in about year 3 or 4? It was in our classroom library (what the??!!! that’s weird now that I think about it) and I remember thinking the ‘swear words’ were so obscene. My teacher must have been a bit eccentric/really overestimated our reading abilities, b/c Animal Farm and Great Expectations were there too.. that’s when I got my first taste of Orwell and Dickens (I’ve hated him since then, so it’s going to be a hard habit to break)!!

  5. Oh, I really hope you enjoy Norwegian Wood.

    Plath’s Bell Jar is surprisingly upbeat, and humorous. It’s not as depressing as it’s made out to be. This post just reminded me that I have a review of The Bell Jar pending, for over two months. Oops.

    The Catcher In The Rye is amazing. It’s my all-time favourite book (well, one of two). I’ve heard the same – people don’t enjoy the book as they get older, so yeah – go for it. Really hope you love Holden Caulfield (the protagonist) as much as I do.

    1. Grrreat! :)

      Looks like I have some solid reading to do over the next few weeks, hahah!
      I’m actually not sure what I think of Norwegian Wood so far.. I’ve read the first few chapters, and my impressions are still half-formed. But that’s not necessarily a bad thing. I’m always a bit cautious when approaching new writers (i.e. new to me)

  6. I’m going to read Balzac next year with my book club! I’m glad you liked it. You did like it, right? The 19th century, like Hugo but not paragraph was mostly an “I like it paragraph”, no?

    I understand the heavy books problem. It’s hard to find time to sit down with them but they don’t travel well.

    I’m glad I prompted you to give Dickens a try, and I certainly hope this time it’s a bit easier to get through. And Catcher: I hope Holden doesn’t annoy you too much. That one’s a quick read!

    I liked Age of Innocence more than House of Mirth, but you may like House more. I think people prefer one over the other, not sure why because they seem so much a like to me! I found Age of Innocence less depressing. What didn’t you like about that one?

    1. Yes, I did like it! I keep meaning to post a review but no time so far!!
      Holden has been quite annoying, but we’ll see :)
      As for Wharton, I didn’t particularly hate Age of Innocence, but it didnt hold my attention enough for me to finish it…

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