Book Chat

Reading Right Now: August 2011

I like to read a few different books at a time, especially now that all I’ve got is time!  Here’s what I’m reading right now:

Breakfast book: The Annotated Sense and Sensibility, edited by David Shappard

I started this a couple months ago, but I just couldn’t concentrate.  I was a little worried I was losing my Austen knack–didn’t I love Jane Austen? Why was this happening?  I think I just can’t read Austen when I’m stressed.  It’s too easy to get distracted, to find myself re-reading the same sentence over and over again before realizing that I’m not comprehending anything at all.  Austen needs a leisurely mind to be enjoyed, apparently.  Well, I’ve got leisure aplenty now.

So every morning I read a chapter or two at breakfast, then again at lunch, and if Sam is late getting home from work, again at dinner.  It’s a lovely way to spend the day with Austen, and Shappard’s annotations have spoiled me for all other annotated works. (I just finished the Annotated Anne of Green Gables, edited by Wendy Elizabeth Barry, Margaret Anne Doody and Mary Doody Jones, and those annotations were pretty hit or miss… some were interesting but a lot of them were irrelevant, and the literary analysis went a little too far past the realm of believability… I missed Shappard dreadfully.)

Sense and Sensibility has never been my favorite novel by Austen.  The first time I read it in high school, I loved it.  The second time I read it, I found it way too didactic… did we really have to choose safe, boring Elinor over her excitable, embarrassing sister Marianne?  I didn’t like either one of them.  Yes, Sense is better than Sensibility (basically common sense vs. emotion…both to the extreme), but it seemed like a compromise between the two would be even better.  And I never really understood the scandal with the illegitimate child… who had an affair with whom?  Too many veiled references that I couldn’t grasp.  So I am thankful that Shappard is joining me for this third time, to fully illuminate all those details!  His annotations make it feel like I’m reading with a friend–a very knowledgable friend, who keeps pictures of 18th Century England in his wallet!

(P.S.  I can’t wait for Shappard’s next annotated Austen: Emma!  Earlier this year I watched BBC’s Emma TV mini-series and it was gorgeous!  Made me excited to read the novel again with Shappard by my side.)

Kindle book: Charles and Emma: The Darwins’ Leap of Faith, by Deborah Heiligman

This has been on my To-Read list for a very long time.  It’s written for young adults, but it doesn’t really seem that way… it’s not that it isn’t interesting history, but so far it’s not as emotionally appealing as most YA lit.  But for all that: very interesting!  It’s the story of Charles Darwin and his marriage to his first cousin Emma, and how they reconciled his religious doubts with her steadfast beliefs.  Both of them are candid and open about their thoughts and feelings, and not at all the Victorian stereotype.  They actually seem like a very modern couple, until you start to think how very radical his doubts were for their time.  Both of them left oodles of information about themselves–in notebooks, on scraps of paper, in diaries, letters to each other, to family–I doubt our emails and text messages of today will help our future biographers very much at all!

Audio book: Anne of Avonlea (, by L.M. Montgomery

Having just finished the Annotated Anne of Green Gables, edited by Wendy Elizabeth Barry, Margaret Anne Doody and Mary Doody Jones, I had a hankering for more Anne.  When it comes to stress–Austen may be too much for my brain, but Anne is the perfect comfort reading.  I don’t really intend to re-read the whole series again, but I started listening to this as an audio book while I’m sewing.  I need something in the background, but daytime TV is just too mind-numbing and even music can get monotonous.  Actually, I don’t think L.M. Montgomery’s books are the best-suited for being read aloud. Some books are enhanced by being read aloud, but I personally like reading Montgomery’s writing in my own head.  The sentences are too complex somehow, with too many lengthy descriptive clauses, and those beautiful Anne ramblings seem silly when they’re spoken aloud.  But in the privacy of my own home, I am free to revel in Anne-isms while I sew.

That’s what I’m reading right now!  What are you reading?

One thought on “Reading Right Now: August 2011

  1. I’m having another bout of reader’s block, so thanks for the inspiration! The last book I was in thrall to was Women in Love, by D.H. Lawrence. I wish I had your descriptive talent to entice you to pick it up. The characters are over the top. Sometimes the dialog is tedious, but there is a lot of action, suspense, racy women, and bold men.

    Like

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