It was 80 degrees F (26 C) here over the weekend. The first time in recorded Minneapolis weather history that we have reached 80 in March. My tulips are up, my forsythia is starting to bloom, and my spring perennials are starting to appear too. Crazy! The library where I work has not turned off the heat in the building yet and when I arrived at 7:30 this morning it was 80 degrees inside the library with no air moving around. Stifling. I live in Minnesota. I am not a hothouse flower. I wilted. Of course just near the time for me to leave for the day, the building started to cool off a bit. Tomorrow I will go to work dressed for summer and it will end up being freezing cold.
But you aren’t here to read my complaints about building temperatures and weird weather. You are here for book talk. As usual I am in the middle of all kinds of books. I recently finished Summer by Edith Wharton and The Metamorphosis by Kafka. Both were excellent and I will post about them in the next couple of days. I read them both on my Kindle and now I am reading A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens. I decided to go with that one as my Dickens selection for my year’s reading goals when I found out from Bookman that it is his second favorite Dickens book. Since I haven’t read it before I figured I should give it a go. My, how Dickens loves the repetition of words and phrases in this book! It is a rhetorical device that must have a name but I don’t know it. You know the book starts with “It was the best of times; it was the worst of times” and goes on in the “it was” pairing for a page or so. Well Dickens does this for other things too, descriptions mostly. It gets to be a bit much after awhile. When the technique gets used so often it loses its power in my opinion. I am still in the first third of the book so hopefully Mr. Dickens will chill out and find some other expressive methods to use soon.
Saturday from the library I picked up The Pleasures of Reading in an Age of Distraction by Alan Jacobs. I’ve been patiently waiting my turn. It is a slim book and I am enjoying it very much. I also brought home Q’s Legacy by Helen Hanff. For this I blame Danielle who has mentioned it several times so that she finally broke down my resistance.
I am slowly making my way in the review copy I have of Lionel Shriver’s The New Republic. It’s good, but I am finding it a bit slow and difficult to get into. I am getting a little tired of the chip-on-his-shoulder narrator and not much of anything happening when I am just shy of the halfway mark.
I’ve been so busy trying to keep up with all the library books that can’t seem to properly space themselves out, that I haven’t gotten the chance to read another Borges story or anymore essays from Auden’s The Dyer’s Hand. I did read another Nabokov literature lecture over the weekend, the one of Kafka’s Metamorphosis. It was good but not quite as satisfying as the other lectures I have read so far. I guess even Nabokov can have an off day, and really, his off day is what most normal people would consider a banner day.
I have yet to start the Willa Cather novella, My Mortal Enemy for the Slaves discussion on March 3st. It is short so I’m pretty sure I can read in over this coming weekend. I did borrow the Library of America copy though which also has essays and other things by Cather in it thinking I could read in addition to and add some interesting insights to the discussion, but I will be surprised if this ends up happening.
I still have Stephanie Staal’s Reading Women on my pile but if I don’t get to it soon it will have to go back to the library. Also on my pile is a book Richard sent me, Beautiful Souls: Saying No, Breaking Ranks, and Heeding the Voice of Conscience in Dark Times by Eyal Press. I read a great review of it in the NY Review of Books and Richard read the book and liked it very much so I am really looking forward to it.
There are, of course, a whole bunch of other books on the piles clamoring for my attention but these are what have me going for now. It all changes so fast though there is no telling what I’ll be reading two or three weeks from now!