This week, I will mostly be reading…
Pictured above, from top to bottom:
Emma by Jane Austen
Everything is Illuminated by Jonathan Safran Foer
The Gormenghast Trilogy by Mervyn Peake
So here’s what I’ll mostly be reading this week! You’ll notice that there’s not been much of a change from the start of this month. I’ve not spent as much time reading lately as I’d like. This is odd, as I’d been going really well until the turn of the year. Hopefully it’s just a tired patch. Anyway, the first book there is Emma, which I’m about 40% of the way through as of today. I’m only making slow progress with it as I’m not reading it at home, only on my commute and lunch break. I’m really enjoying rereading it, as I’m picking up on so much more of the foreshadowing of things that happen towards the end of the book than I did the first time through. I’ve got Alexander McCall Smith’s modern rewrite lined up for afterwards, and I’m really looking forward to that too. I like modern rewrites a lot, even though they don’t always do anything innovative with the text.
Everything is Illuminated is what I’ve got lined up for after I finish Gormenghast. I’m kind of nervous to read this one. I read Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close near the end of 2013 when I was in a pretty big reading slump and was generally pretty depressed. Although it was pretty self-conscious and a bit pretentious, I really enjoyed it and it really spoke to me, especially the meditations on grief. So I’m hoping that this one will still work for me now that I’m in a much better head-space. Foer has a bit of a rep for being pretentious and not being as clever as he thinks he is, so we’ll see how I get on with this one.
Finally Gormenghast. I’m about one third of the way through the second book in the trilogy, and I hope to finish it by the end of this week (I said this last week, and the week before…) The thing about these books is that they’re very dense. Even though I don’t find the language difficult, or what they’re describing hard to imagine, there’s just so much of it. It’s been said by many that Peake writes like a painter and that’s true – his imagery is so alive with colour and artistry that it works so much better for me than most other extremely visually descriptive writing. If I could make one small criticism, he’s a little a repetitive. For example Steerpike’s “high shoulders” or Fuchsia’s “inky black” hair is referred to at least once every couple of pages. I’m not sure, maybe it’s intentional, but it doesn’t really work for me.
First thing I want to say is apologies for going awol at the end of Bout of Books and generally not posting this week. I’ve had a terrible week – I’ve started a new job and the commute has been a bit annoying. And it’s just generally been awful: on Monday I got locked out of my flat, Tuesday I got soaked on the way home, Wednesday my lunch exploded in my bag and balsamic vinegar got everywhere, Thursday I twisted my ankle, and Friday I got stuck out in the driving snow for an HOUR while I waited on a taxi as it was impossible for me to walk to the station as I have to walk down a really steep hill and I would have broken my neck.
So that’s where I am right now.
Anyway! I’ve really been enjoying the concept of the TBR Challenge, so here’s my first update post. I’m going to post a review of the first book that I read tomorrow (even though I’m not counting my first full book as actually read until I finish the Gormenghast trilogy).
My Progress: 0.33 of 12 Completed / 0 of 12 Reviewed
I may have flew a little too close to the sun with wanting to get the whole Gormenghast trilogy finished in January. It’s a lot longer than I thought! My one volume edition looks a lot shorter than it actually is. I’m also really enjoying it so I don’t want to rush through it and not savour it as much as I should! If I get to the end of Gormenghast itself I’ll be happy, and I’ll definitely read Titus Alone before the end of the year too. I’ll have a review up for Titus Groan before the end of the weekend. This is a seriously, seriously good book.
Question of the Month: Which book on your 2015 list has been on your shelf the longest?
I don’t remember exactly when I bought a lot of these books. However, I think the ones that have been on my shelf the longest are the ones that I got for my 21st birthday (three and a half years ago, eek!): the Gormenghast trilogy, Tam Lin, Big Fish, and Dreams Underfoot. All of these are books I was looking forward to reading, so I don’t know why they’ve been there so long! I sometimes have a problem with saving books I think are going to be good for when I’m “in the right mood” or “when I can really appreciate them” instead of just reading them!
Thanks to Jess at Gone With the Words. This was a fairly easy challenge, but it was enjoyable picking out one of my favourite lines (from many!) from Titus Groan. So here it is:
An example of how perfectly Mervyn Peake understands his characters and is able to show us the kind of people that they are in a way that speaks to your soul.
So here are my stats for the fifth day of Bout of Books.
Pages read: 366 pages of Titus Groan; 25 pages of Gormenghast; 70 pages of Emma
Percentage of the way though: 100% of the way through TG; 7% of the way through Gormenghast; 42% of the way through the trilogy
Thoughts: So I’m clearly not going to meet my goal, though this was obvious fairly early in the week. I think what’s held me back is actually that I’m enjoying the Gormenghast trilogy a lot more than I thought I would. I didn’t want to rush through it at all. It’s also a lot longer than I thought – when I look at individual volumes of these books, they’re all 500+ pages, so although mine is shorter, it’s because there are more words per page (it’s a beautiful, but huge, book. My tiny hands struggle with it). So far I’m interested to see where Gormenghast goes, though I do know the gist of the plot. It’s a shame that from Monday I’ll have less time to devote to it as there is no chance that I’m lugging that thing about with me. Once I finish my Back to the Classics book (Emma) I think I’ll be taking the shorter of the other books from my TBR pile to work with me. Of course, as this is a new job (though a temp one!), I don’t know how much time I’ll have to read. Sigh, being grown up sucks sometimes 😛
So here are my stats for the fourth day of Bout of Books.
Pages read: 366 pages of Titus Groan; 50 pages of Emma
Percentage of the way though: 100% of the way through Titus Groan; 40% of the way through the trilogy
Thoughts: This is genuinely one of the best novels I’ve ever read – it truly defies categorisation. It’s all at once a history, a fantasy, a gothic, and even more than that. I’ve never seen an ensemble cast of characters rendered in such a way that I had a clear and true picture of all of them. I’d urge anyone to read this. I haven’t read any more of Emma yet.
Friday’s thoughts will be posted later.
Many thanks to Christina Marie at Lulo Fangirl for running this challenge. The task was as follows:
Your mission — should you choose to accept it — is to:
Create your own synopsis. In 3-5 sentences.
For any of the books you have read or plan to read during the read-a-thon!
You can be as creative as you’d like!
And here’s my entry!
Titus Groan – Mervyn Peake
A baby is born.”
I hope you enjoy it 🙂
So here are my stats for the second and third day of Bout of Books.
Pages read: 150 pages of Titus Groan; 50 pages of Emma
Percentage of the way though: 40% of the way through Titus Groan; 16% of the way through the trilogy
Thoughts: Ugh, I’ve been reading so little over the past two days despite it being my least week off! I’ve been extremely busy, which I suppose can be attributed to the same thing. I’m still loving Titus Groan though. I think maybe he spent a little too long over the scene where Steerpike scales Gormenghast, because I could see where it was going (the clue was in Fuchsia leaving the food in the attic). Still, there isn’t really a wasted word, though I’m not really sure what to make of all the songs. Emma I’ve read before and still love as much as ever.
Let’s see what Thursday holds!