22 August 2006

What I'm Reading Now

Too much might seem a likely answer, but I don't think that you can ever read too much. I am over-committed on my reading though. To wit:

1) For my Book Group: Ivanhoe. Meets 9/7. Choice made when I was on vacation and I just obtained the book. Yikes! > 500 pages. What happened to our Less Than 400 rule? I am NOT looking forward to reading this.

2) Have an ARC of book I committed to reviewing by 8/31. Have read 3 out of 300 pages.

3) The University lecture circuit is starting up again. Zadie Smith will be giving a lecture at Butler University on 9/11. I'm thinking I'd like to have read something by her beforehand. I bought White Teeth a few months ago, but haven't started it yet.

And EO Wilson will be speaking at DePauw Univ in November. When I read this article, I had to add his soon-to-be published book The Creation: A Meeting of Science and Religion to my list. From the article linked:
In his "usual eloquence," Wilson "pleads for the salvation of biodiversity, arguing that both secular humanists like himself and believers in God acknowledge the glory of nature and can work together to save it," opines Publisher's Weekly. "Wilson passionately leads us by the hand into an amazing and abundantly diverse natural order, singing its wonders and its beauty and captivating our hearts and imaginations with nature's mysterious ways." The review refers to E.O. Wilson as "our modern-day Thoreau."

I hope the lecture is worth driving an hour to hear.

4) Am considering participating in a discussion on N.T. Wright's book, Simply Christian, also on Sept 11. From reading the reviews on Amazon, I know that my perspective on faith and religion is quite different from any of the reviewers, but they give me no clues as to whether I will have any interest in this book once I get a copy. Wright, an Anglican bishop, has written extensively, but I am unfamiliar with his writing. Although not the only issue in question, I'm curious where he stands on the Gene Robinson ordination debate and the Episcopal Church's possible break with the Anglican Communion.

5) I have a 600 page textbook to skim through before taking a certification test. I think the deadline is this week. :-(

6) I'm busy reading John Berendt's The City of Falling Angels. Having just returned from Venice, I like that I have vivid images of the streets he describes and wish that I had found the time to read this before I traveled. The last chapter I read (about halfway through the book) centered on Henry James and Ezra Pound and their lives in Venice. Mentioned frequently are James' The Wings of the Dove and The Aspern Papers. I'm familiar with The Wings of the Dove from seeing the movie, although I've never read the book. The Aspern Papers, however, is a work I wasn't aware of at all. Interestingly, Berendt draws parrallels between the fictional work Aspern, loosely based on struggles with Byron's estate, and the real-life drama that unfolded when some tried to gain control of Pound's papers as his aging lover, Olga Rudge, slipped into senility. Add The Aspern Papers to the TBR list.

7) And then there are the on-line discussion groups I should probably just give up on. I'm such a slacker. a) Reading....War and Peace. I'm so far behind that I'll never catch up. I didn't like the translation that I had, so I bought a copy of the new translation by Briggs when I was in the UK a few weeks ago, since it isn't available in paperback in the States yet. The hardback version violated my book weight requirements. Yes, I have such requirements! I want books to exercise my brain, not my biceps. b) The Slaves of Golconda: Need to read The Island of Dr.Moreau by 8/31. Sadly, this probably won't happen. c) A Curious Singularity, the short story discussion group. I re-read Chekohv's "The Lady with the Lapdog", a story that I really like and to which I had a much different reaction after reading this time. But, I never posted anything on it. Interesting posts on the site. Check them out if you haven't read them yet. Maybe I'll be able to join the discussion for the next round.

8) As if I didn't have enough to read, when I went to the bookstore to get a copy of Ivanhoe and the Wright book, I bought the following titles: John Banville, The Sea; Julian Barnes A Brief History of the World in 10 1/2 Chapters; Francine Prose Reading Like A Writer. And I have the books I bought while on vacation: 2 books of poetry; 1 work about a poet's writing process; Ruskin's Venice: The Stones Revisted, combining excerpts from John Ruskin's The Stones of Venice with photography of the buildings he describes; and Leonardo's Machines, bought at a special exhibit on DaVinci's mechanical inventions. And I'll have to read the two cookbooks I bought, too.

9) And, as if this list wasn't daunting by it's sheer volume, there are stacks of books in my house yet to be read. See the sidebar lists. How I've failed miserably on my Summer Reading Challenge goal!

And, isn't it funny that I've had a book on my 'Reading Now' list for months titled Getting Things Done? Obviously, I haven't picked up or applied any tips from this book to my growing reading list!


Danielle said...

I'm so glad I am not the only one reading lots of books at once! Lately, though, I feel like I am getting nowhere. I am also reading the Briggs translation of W&P (only just getting to Book II!!). I know I won't finish with the group--maybe they are already done? But I hope to finish by the end of the year--I read a few chapters every morning. You should try to read the Wells---if you are a fast reader you could easily get it done in an afternoon! I read it over three days. Lucky you to hear authors speak--I wish someone like Zadie Smith would come here!

Sylvia said...

Oh, do read Moreau! It's very quick and straightforward and delightfully creepy.

Carl V. said...'re overcommitted. :)

But as you pointed out you can never be reading too much.

That Creation book sounds very, very interesting. Hope you post about the lecture.

Dorothy W. said...

Lots of great stuff here! It's fun to have a lot going on. The EO Wilson book sounds very interesting.

litlove said...

I did laugh when you said you'd read 3 out of 300 pages of a book to review - I've got exactly the same situation here! I don't know why, but review books are always my slowest reads. I loved James's The Aspern Papers, however, and that's a quickie you should enjoy.

Barry said...

I read the Biggs translation of War and Peace, despite the weight, and am glad I did. I had got all pretentious after reading a long discussion in the Atlantic or somesuch about the "right" translation to get, and decided I'd be authentic - but then it came down to a choice between a cheap'n'nasty Wordsworth Classics version or the much nicer Penguin with its clean white pages, sharp font, decent opening introduction (and the particularly hot bookseller who had specially retreived it from the inner recesses of the shop for me).

Kate S. said...

Your list does sound overwhelming albeit exciting as well.

There's a very funny bit about not reading Ivanhoe at the opening of Maud Hart Lovelace's Betsy in Spite of Herself. Betsy and her crowd are assigned it as summer reading between ninth and tenth grade and, of course, when September rolls around, Betsy is the only one who's read it. She provides a handy capsule review of the tome to her classmates on the eve of the test which you might find rather useful if you go into your book group meeting with it unfinished! I must confess that, despite my fondness for Betsy, even her rapturous description of Ivanhoe never persuaded me to read it for myself.

I also have a copy of Getting Things Done buried under a pile of unread books, one of which is James's The Aspern Papers. It was a reference to the latter in Hermione Lee's latest collection of essays on biography that piqued my interest. I hope to get to both soon!

Library Lady said...

Howdy Cam,

I actually bought The City of Falling Angels while in Venice before its release in America...yet it waits in the TBR pile!

Talk about procrastination... :-P

Cam said...

Librarylady: I just finished City of Falling Angels, about 15 minutes ago! You really should read it. Look for a post soon about the book.

john clark said...

Let me pose a challenge to you (one that I have failed so far in IndyBuzz). Zadie Smith is coming to Butler on the fifth anniversary of 9/11 ... does that matter? I don't mean "matter" in the sense of some cosmic significance -- annivarsaries happen every day, if she was to come this Wednesday I'd be pondering the connection between Zadie Smith and the 26th anniversary of the signing of the Gdansk Accords in Poland.

I mean "matter" in the sense that reading Zadie Smith ought to matter to people in indianapolis (she is not just clever and a gifted writer, she aspires I think to make people better people by the time they finish reading her books). And thinking clearly and frshly about five years of life after 9/11 ought to matter to people around here too. Somehow there ought to be a way to connect the two so that people will want to read Smith's books, and want to head over the Clowes on the 11th, and somehow will use that experience to reflect on what has happened in the past five years.

Let me know what you think.

Lately Smith has been talking about The Morality of the Novel, the title of a collection of essays she has been writing for a while. Maybe we should be reading Austen, Forster, Kafka before her talk instead of White Teeth.