Reading List

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Presently I am reading:

Through on-line delivery:

Middlemarch George Eliot--and you are seeing some of my dialogue with this great book.

Northanger Abbey Jane Austen--The Novel that languished for a while but then came out to roundly trounce the excesses of the Gothic novelists, Ann Radcliffe, among them. But even so, one should not miss out on the pleasures of The Mysteries of Udolfo or The Castle of Otranto (Horace Walpole).

"The Willows"--in a collection of Ghost Stories--considered the very finest of Algernon Blackwood's many stories.

In real paper:

The Geographer's Library Jon Fasman--The kind of book I was looking for when I read The DaVinci Code, Angels and Demons, and Steve Berry's The Amber Room. I hope the rest of the novel lives up to the first five or six chapters--a mysterious death, odd objects from antiquity that have a way of going missing and suddenly being found to be stolen, and a reporter. Literate, intricate, and fun. Perhaps the most fun I've had with a book since The Club Dumas. I'll let you know if it lives up to its beginning.

Will in the World Stephen Greenblatt--Another close examination of the life of William Shakespeare, one of the most prominent to introduce the idea that Shakespeare may have come from a family of recusant Catholics. Fascinating in its details and a prelude to another book I have at home, A year in the Life of William Shakespeare: 1599.

Hammer and Fire Fr. Raphael Simon, a Jew turned Cistercian Monk, and at the time of the writing of this book, a practicing psychiatrist. We're reading it as a part of a slow study--probably a full year within my book group. I invited everyone to breeze through and get the general drift and we're going to talk about it a couple of chapters at a time. We're only dedicating part of the book group time to it, hence the slowness. But the book invites slow reading and reflection on what is being said. Too often we chew this books up like they were candy and they make no appreciable change in the way we do things. But a book like this is written to invite change in the way we live and the way we approach spiritual matters. (All books on prayer are written to invite change, no simply to provide those of us with the wherewithal to buy and read them with a moment's diversion. I have to remind myself of that every so often.)

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Northanger Abbey does hit Gothic where it lives. But it's pretty noticeable that Austen has read a lot of Gothics to be so up on them. I think we can characterize the book as affectionate. :)

Now that I'm reading the anonymously written novel Fatherless Fanny (conceived as a book with all the charms of Gothic, but meant to be realistically written and set in then-modern times), I'm in a very good position to notice all the other writers who were influenced by it. Most of them tend to mention the novel in a dismissive fashion somewhere in their works, after having stolen huge chunks from it. :)

I'm also really enjoying being forced to go slow with The Nebuly Coat. It's a book you can live in, and I don't mind doing that at all.

What drives me wild is unnecessary description by writers who are hamhanded with it. You get so many writers today who've been told to mention every sense in every paragraph, and actually try to do that, badly, instead of providing action. Listening to audiobooks makes that even more painful, since you can't just skim by.



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This page contains a single entry by Steven Riddle published on November 2, 2006 8:55 AM.

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