When we were young and foolish and anxious to impress ourselves and others with how learned and well-read we were, we bought, one at a time, the hundred best books in English literature. They are beautiful, leather-bound books and have followed us back and forth across the country and the globe, adding that learned and well-read ambiance to all the places we’ve lived. Needless to say, in over forty years we've still read fewer than fifty percent of them between us. New plan: now that the OC is retired we plan to read more of them.
The OC recommended I start with The Odyssey. Really? I wasn’t thrilled with that suggestion as there was already a teetering pile, threatening to collapse from my night table onto the floor, of library books and books from friends, waiting for their turn to dazzle me. But, I made a start, fully expecting to be bored out of my mind. And truthfully, remembering the torture of translating Latin passages in school, expecting to be reminded that I am not intellectual enough to get a thrill from, or even to understand, the scribblings of long-dead Romans. But, surprise! It wasn’t at all boring. Very readable in fact. I could actually follow the thread of the story. Maybe those old geezers’ writings have survived because the things they wrote about are things that are still relevant today? That said, I’m not exactly steaming through it. As with rich chocolate, I’m pacing myself. One delicious morsel per day as opposed to gobbling the entire box in one sitting. And in between morsels I’ve been chipping away at the teetering pile.
I recently re-read Sebastian Barry’s “A Long, Long Way.” I loved it as much the second time around as I did the first. We all have access to the same vocabulary but the way Barry puts words together is to my ears what chocolate is to my tongue. Another of his, “On Canaan’s Side” is waiting on the night table. And I’m even thinking I might like to reread “The Secret Scripture.” And then there’s “The Whereabouts of Eneas McNulty,” and I could even reread “Annie Dunne” just for the pleasure of feeding more chocolate to my soul.
I have Alice Munroe’s “Dear Life,” a book of her short stories, out from the library. I’m half way through and it’s due back tomorrow. My heart won’t break. I can’t get enthused, which is probably why the Pulitzer Prize committee has not contacted me to sit on their selection board.
A friend lent me Robert Graves “Goodbye To all That” and I’ve dipped in and out and will finish it, in time. Another friend lent me “Life Stories” by Susan Vreeland, and I’ll get to that too. But somewhere in the midst of all these I happened onto “The Rosie Project” by Graeme Simsion, an Australian I'd never even heard of and had to drop everything while I giggled my way through it. Absolutely hilarious, especially if you have a friend or acquaintance with Asperger’s. It reminded me of "The Humans" by Matt Haig and how much fun that was to read. Note to Birdy: drop everything and go get it. The Scot can fend for himself for a day or two.
Waiting at the library for me today is Anna Quindlan’s new book, “Still Life With Breadcrumbs.” Will report back when I finish it. Meanwhile, time for another few chapters from Mr. Homer.
And just in case I blaze through the teetering pile with unaccustomed speed, I’d love to hear what you all have been reading while I’ve been gone.*
* Absence unintentional.. Life gets in the way sometimes. I kept thinking “this week for sure,” and the weeks kept slipping away. Thanks for your concern and sorry to worry you. All is well. Come see me, I've missed you all.