The big pile by the armchair

Ooh, ooh, I have something to post about. Yes! This is, or, at least, had ambitions to be, a literary blog. That’s books, right? [Have you been drinking? - Ed]. So, I shall tell you what books I am reading at the moment (and no, of course I haven’t been drinking. It’s Thursday).

  1. Norton Anthology of Poetry, 4th edition. 1998 pages, indeed. Several months in, we’ve got to Samuel Taylor Coleridge. He isn’t nearly as funny as Byron.
  2. The Children’s Book, by A.S. Byatt. I’m only about a third of the way through this, but so far it’s all rather lovely and jewel-like. The description of the V&A and the garden party are splendid bits of descriptive work.
  3. The Ring and the Book by Robert Browning. This is progressing slowly, because there’s only so much blank verse I can take in one week, and for that matter, only so much Robert Browning being arch. Good Lord, but he is arch, isn’t he? But he does have a good sense of humour, so we shall cheerfully soldier on.
  4. The Sleepwalkers by Arthur Koestler. This one’s a classic of the history of science, and it’s very much about jolly time I read it. Philosophy, religious theory, Galileo, and the rewriting of the centre of the Universe. And some higher geometry, in case your brain was feeling under-revved.
  5. A Journey to the Western Islands of Scotland by Samuel Johnson and Journal of a Tour to the Hebrides by James Boswell. These come bound together in the one volume. I am still reading Johnson’s measured, elegant, phlegmatic discussion of his trip, and haven’t yet reached Boswell’s recounting of it, but I am very much looking forward to Boswell. Johnson being a tad too measured and elegant, despite his dry humour. I could do with some gossip.
  6. Dr Whortle’s School by Anthony Trollope. Not one of his better known novels, this, but as the entire town is about to find out that the school matron is actually an inadvertant bigamist, it is definitely becoming riveting. Trollope is rather more of a liberal than one would expect from his highly Victorian beard. I’m rather fond of Trollope, as the bishop said to the actress.

On the side, as light relief, I am also working my way through the complete novels of Ngaio Marsh, and Unseen Academicals by Terry Pratchett. Unseen Academicals is proving rather dark and wistful in places, but Pratchett is Like That, and I admire him hugely for it. Otherwise it’d all be Wodehouse with wizards, and we only need one Wodehouse.

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One Response to The big pile by the armchair

  1. SG V says:

    Oddly, though I most often write in English, the (hem, errr, umm, little) poetry I read tends to be in Danish. But blimey, Ngaio Marsh – haven’t picked her up in ages. “Off with his head” – title entirely from memory – I remember as one I really thought good.

    *starts thinking and remembering – which is always dangerous before the second cup of coffee*

    Alleyn, isn’t it? And a love of – paintings? Oh yes, a painter :) Actually funny that two of my favourite crime writers (at least those out of the British Empire) includes strong elements of art in there – P.D. James’ Dalgliesh being the other.

    I’m halfway through the Kay Scarpetta novels by Patricia Cornwell at the moment, just being distracted by a quick re-read of the Harry Potter ones before the 7.1 movie opens shortly. But I should probably drop all thoughts of crime and wizardry and start looking at some work…

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