Reading Recently


This past weekend I realized I was reading four books at once. That is a lot, even for me, and I usually have a couple of books going at once. I kept enthusiastically starting a book and then, just as enthusiastically, I would start another book. And another. And another. I have managed to finish two of the four and am restraining myself from picking up any more books until the other two are finished.

I reread Little Women and it made me happy.  It was one of the first books I fell obsessively in love with. I think I was six or seven. I read and reread it many, many times over the years. I have strong opinions about it (no, Jo should not have married Laurie) and I strongly feel that if you don't love it too you are wrong. Yes, it is a bit old-fashioned but it is a heart-warming story about people who feel real. Real things happen to them; they argue, they laugh, they marry, they are disappointed, they are imperfect and therefore, loveable. I firmly believe every one of us has a bit of Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy in us. I am planning on going to see the new movie because I hear such good things about it but I am a little nervous. It might be excellent but it might not be my Little Women. We shall see.

My next great book love after Louisa May Alcott was Jane Austen. I went on to read her novels just as obsessively and I still do. I am slowly working my way through the volume of essays in the photo. So far, they are all very good. I especially enjoyed this quote in the introduction.

Other novels can be read through once and soon forgotten, but our favorite Austen novels haunt us our entire lives, inform our understanding of what it is to be human, and in the end fuse so wholly with our thoughts and feelings that it would be difficult to imagine the sorts of people we might have become had we never encountered them. We read her novels to identify and to improve, to laugh and to sympathize, to enjoy the present and to revisit the past, and at times to escape our own muddled lives for a bit and find the clarity that only the best fiction can provide. 

I have been reading a few books about language lately. I reviewed Kory Stamper's Word By Word here. My husband bought me Dryer's English last week. I started reading it in the bookstore and couldn't put it down. I wasn't going to buy it because hardcover books are expensive and I am trying to be extra practical these days but he saw how much I wanted it and took it out of my hands and bought it. I loved it. I also am now a bit paranoid about all the grammatical mistakes I am sure there are in my blog. On page four he suggests you go an entire week without writing very, rather, really, quite, and in fact. Has he been reading my blog and I didn't know it? I use those words, or similar words, all too often. He said this about the English language.

The English language, though, is not so easily ruled and regulated. It developed without codification, sucking up new constructions and vocabulary every time some foreigner set foot on the British Isles—to say nothing of the mischief we Americans have wreaked on it these last few centuries—and continues to evolve anarchically. It has, to my great dismay, no enforceable laws, much less someone to enforce the laws it doesn't have. 

Dreyer goes on to discuss punctuation, differences between British English and American English, frequently misspelled words, and all kinds of other fascinating subjects. I mean that sincerely. Not only is the book informative but it is witty and fun to read. I read it through like a novel because it was so interesting and I am sure I will refer to it many times.

The last book I am currently reading is The Priory by Dorothy Whipple. Whipple reminds me a lot of D. E. Stevenson. They are relatively light yet well-written books about the everyday life of middle-class, mid-century families. They frequently have a bit of a bite to them underneath the frothy exterior. The Priory is about the Marwood family. Their lives are disturbed when the Major decides to remarry. I am not too far into it but I am enjoying it.

What have you been reading lately? Do you read more than one book at a time?

4 comments

  1. Do I read more than one book at a time? I do, because my reading mood changes sometimes by the minute. It's terrible for my attention span, but I enjoy the juxtapositions. At other times I start to feel overloaded and think I ought to cut back.

    Right now I'm reading The House of the Spirits by Isabel Allende, All God's Children Need Traveling Shoes by Maya Angelou, plus a book about Manichaeism, and I just finished Village School by Miss Read. They all have women authors - otherwise they are pretty different worlds!

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    1. That is quite the selection! I agree that having different books for different moods is nice. However, I think four was my limit. Any more than that and it just gets confusing. I have finished all of them except the essays and am now itching to start picking more books off my shelves.

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  2. Strangely at the beginning of th eyear I too ended up reading four books at the same time, absolutely unheard of for me, but they were all quite different, I'm now down to one at a time. I suppose the fact that English is always changing means that it's alive and hopefully vibrant. I like that the word 'condescending' in Austen has a completely different meaning from the word today. I also like that English has taken lots of words from other languages such as kiosk (Turkish) and juggernaut (Hindi). I'm also hoping to see Little Women soon.

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  3. I just added Dryer's English to my TBR on the basis of your description. I saw Little Women a few weeks ago and it reminded me of how much I loved the book as a child. I've never seen an adaptation before, and I was quite pleased with this one. Eight Cousins was another Alcott favorite of mine that I re-read frequently.

    When I read multiple books at once it's either multiple locations (one at school and one at home) or multiple formats (one on audio, one on ebook, one print). Sometimes I start a book, start and finish three others, then realize I never finished reading the other one. At that point, I have to wonder how into it I was.

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