Are you feeling nosy about what I’m reading? Well then this is the post for you.
I try not to read more than one book at a time, but lately I feel like I have piles of books I’m trying to get through. (Which means, unfortunately, that they’re all a little bit boring. Oh well. Such is life.)
I’ll take you through them one by one and share my thoughts, why I chose to read it, and if it’s living up to my expectations.
Daniel Deronda, by George Eliot
Daniel Deronda is a huge book, and I’ve owned a copy for probably ten years without reading a single word of it. I like to have a handful of unread books on my bookshelf so I never run out of things to read, but ten years is a bit much.
I convinced my WhatsApp book club to read it with me, and we decided to take two weeks to read the first ten-chapter section.
Then I forgot about it until two days before the deadline and spent my weekend frantically catching up.
Lucky for me, Daniel Deronda is wonderful. At least so far. Why have I never read this before? Good grief.
I know why, actually. I wasn’t a huge fan of the BBC mini series. I found it depressing. So I know that the book is going to take a depressing turn soon. However, I’m enjoying the ride so far.
Also, I vaguely remember that the story goes into the plight of Jewish people during that time period (1870s England). So I’m curious how that part of the book will be handled, and I’m hoping it’s a nice break from the casual racism that often crops up in old books. It’s nice to know that there were people back then who cared about social justice issues, and I always find it interesting to read about social justice from a different era’s perspective.
So far I love it, but as with all the books in this post, I’m only partway through and may change my mind.
Changeology, by Dr. John Norcross
I rarely read nonfiction, but I picked this book up at the local used bookstore because I was upset about my work habits and I was trying to figure out how to change myself.
(By “work habits,” I mean that I struggle with self-discipline, procrastination, genuine health issues, etc. This makes it hard to get into healthy work habits. I tend to avoid doing my most difficult work and then spend all day dreading it.)
I’m still midway through the changing process, so the jury is still out on whether this book helps me change. But while Norcross is obviously an academic first and writer second, I actually find the data in the book fascinating.
I mean, I’ve always really wondered about change. How are some people able to drastically change their lives, while others try and try and try but never manage to actually change?
Well apparently Norcross is the expert on this and has been studying it for 30 years. So informationally I find the book fascinating even though it doesn’t have the easy readability of most self help books.
I guess I’ll let you know if it actually helps me change.
Give Me Some Truth, by Eric Gansworth
This is the “main” book I’m ready right now, and it’s interesting and boring at the same time.
I checked it out of the library because it was about some teenagers forming a band. In the novel I’m currently trying to write, my characters form a band. But I don’t know much about bands. Hence, I decided to read a book on the subject.
Lo and behold, I learned a lot from the book, but on an entirely different subject.
The book is set on a Tuscarora reservation near Niagara Falls in 1980. I assume this is very close to where the author actually grew up, because he is very knowledgable on his subject, and it’s fascinating, full of random insightful little details. Like how beaded trucker caps were super popular on the reservation. I would never have realized that was a thing.
Or the way that they all had relatives in Canada, because the boarders between the US and Canada were arbitrary lines drawn by white people that cut through their area. So there’s all these family get-togethers and parties and such in early July, and some of them are Independence Day celebrations and some of them are Canada Day celebrations. But no one cares that much because they associate with being Tuscarora much more than being American or Canadian.
But they still celebrate the holidays.
Anyway, it’s full of really interesting cultural things like that. But it is so boring. I mean, it doesn’t have much of a plot.
Belong, by Radha Agrawal
I checked this book out at the library because I was looking for practical tips on how to make friends and form community in new places.
It’s okay I guess.
It has a fun, easy-to-read format with illustrations on every page and all these sections for you to write down your values or what you look for in a friend or whatever. But it’s a library book. So I’m not gonna do that.
There’s some good advice in it, but the author and I are very different people. Her energy levels make me feel tired just reading it, haha.
A Treasury of Hans Christian Anderson
I used to read fairy tales and folklore all the time, and somehow I’ve gotten out of the habit. So this year I’ve been slowly making my way through a volume of Hans Christian Anderson fairy tales.
I think the most interesting thing about Anderson’s fairy tales in particular is the way he weaves Christian themes into his work in a completely bizarre fashion.
For example: “The Snow Queen” begins with a magic mirror made by the devil. It falls to earth and shatters. Shards of it fall into Kai’s eyes and heart, setting in motion the events of the story.
The central conflict of “The Little Mermaid” is that she wants to become human, not just to marry the prince, but also to gain an immortal soul and go to heaven someday. It ends in a bittersweet way: she doesn’t get the prince, but she gets to earn her way to heaven by doing good deeds.
But my favorite is The Marsh King’s Daughter where, just as you think the story is wrapping up and the princess is about to marry the prince, she decides to go to heaven for a moment. When she returns, she realizes that hundreds of years have passed on earth during her moments in heaven. The prince and her family are long dead. The end!
The Odyssey, by Homer
For a long time I never read The Illiad or The Odyssey because they seemed much too dense for me. But one day at the bookstore I saw a Penguin Classics version of The Odyssey and decided to give it a try.
I found it surprisingly easy to read.
Here’s my conclusion: I think it’s easier to read classics that were written in other languages than it is to read English classics. Especially if they’re really old.
For example, I don’t read Shakespeare. I did once–I somehow managed to get through Romeo and Juliet but it was an annoying story and not remotely worth the effort. So I haven’t bothered since. I watch and enjoy Shakespeare on stage, but that’s it.
However, classics in other languages are much easier because all you have to do is find a modern translation and bam! It’s written in words and phrases you understand.
Of course The Odyssey is still bizarre but not any more bizarre than, say, Hans Christian Anderson. (Actually I’d say it’s much less bizarre than Anderson.)
Anyway folks, that’s what I’ve been reading lately. What have you been reading?
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