Thoughts for Friday

I just got back from a lovely yoga class and am feeling all … relaxed. This class was a great follow-up to a book group meeting this morning where instead of discussing a book, we watched the documentary What the Bleep Do We Know, a film about quantum physics, spirituality, emotions, the brain, and changing one’s way of thinking. If those things sound at all interesting to you, I recommend the film highly. It really can change the way you think, if you are in the right frame of mind for it, which, at this point, I am.

It also got me interested in reading more books on science, such as Brian Greene’s Fabric of the Cosmos and Lisa Randall’s Warped Passages and a book by one of the scientists in the film, Joseph Dispenza, called Evolve Your Brain. To be honest, I’m not sure I’ll actually pick up one of these books very soon, but the film was a good reminder that I do want to read them at some point.

Today was a good day for another reason entirely: I received six beautiful volumes of poetry in the mail. I was incredibly lucky and won a contest over at Nonsuch Book to receive these books published by Faber in celebration of their 80th anniversary.

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The volumes are by W.H. Auden, T.S. Eliot, W.B. Yeats, Ted Hughes, Sylvia Plath, and John Betjeman, and each one is gorgeous.  I haven’t read any poetry in a while, and I think it may be time to start again soon. I think I will begin with Ted Hughes.

In other bookish news, I have two books to review, although time is slipping away from me, and it is taking me forever to get to them: Michael Frayn’s The Trick of It, and E.M. Forester’s Maurice. I enjoyed both of them, and we’ll see if I can manage to gather my thoughts to write reviews.

The deeper I get into summer, the harder I’m finding it to do anything much at all. However, I did ride 80 miles on my bike yesterday, a ride which started inauspiciously with a downpour that didn’t last long but which left me feeling damp for the rest of the ride. But once that passed, I had a great time riding around the back roads of Litchfield County, seeing some farms and some cows and a few small towns. It left me feeling a little beat today, but pleasantly so.

I now have a bit of catching up in Infinite Jest to do, but only a little, and the other book I’m reading is Richard Holmes’s biography of Samuel Taylor Coleridge, which I’m loving. Holmes is such an excellent storyteller, Coleridge is such an interesting person, and he lived in such interesting times, that there is no way I’m not going to like this book. I love the way that Holmes quotes liberally from Coleridge’s letters and lectures and poetry so we can really hear his voice, and I love how Holmes does such a good job of situating Coleridge in his context, so I get a sense of what it was like to live in England at that time. The biography is two volumes long, and I expecting to enjoy both of them fully.

I have picked up Gertrude Stein’s novel Three Lives, and it’s interesting, although the truth is, I’m not entirely sure this is the best time to read it. But the truth is also that my opinions change rapidly from day to day, so all I have to do is wait a while, and it will be a good time to read it. I’m not giving up just yet.

I hope you all enjoy your weekend!

12 Comments

Filed under Books, Life, Poetry, Reading

12 responses to “Thoughts for Friday

  1. I just picked up Maurice thinking I would love to read it now (or something by Forster anyway), but I am determined to finish Bleak House first. I hope you do get a chance to write about it eventually (and am glad you liked it). I always think I would like to read more science and nature books, but I am generally bad with nonfiction, so it never seems to happen. Maybe I should just watch the documentary and go from there. Those are lovely poetry books–nice to get a whole set of them at once! Enjoy your weekend as well–I hope you get some sunshine soon!

  2. The poetry sounds beautiful. And the Coleridge biography really interesting. I’m off to find it!

    Summer IS wonderful, isn’t it? Those bike rides must be heaven.

  3. I’m struggling with that same summertime lack of motivation – which is too bad, since I have some serious event coordination to do before mid-August. And I’m green with envy over those Faber volumes. So beautiful!

  4. What a wonderful prize to win; what a great group of poets! Congratulations!

  5. Cam

    I think my husband has both the Randall and the Greene books around here somewhere. Maybe I’ll track them down. He heard both of them speak at a local lecture series. I didn’t make it to either speech but later regretted that I hadn’t. The report was that each was an interesting speaker.

    I’m envious of your schedule allowing you for the glorious summer bikerides. I’d so like to have lots of time in the summer to just kick back, relax and follow a less demanding schedule. I’d say that I was in need of a sabbatical, but for me that usually means unemployment which is not what I’d wish for in this current economy.

  6. What a lucky prize — four volumes of poetry! Even if you are not ready to start them now, they’ll be fun to anticipate for future reading.

    Summer is making me feel lazy too. The idea of an 80 mile bike ride sounds great, but actually riding more than 20, not so much, LOL.

  7. Those are lovely poetry books, indeed. I’ve read a tiny bit of Eliot and a small amount of Plath, but on the whole I feel like I might need to properly educate myself in the way of poetry… I guess one of these days I’ll just have to start… In the meantime, enjoy!

  8. Danielle — we ended up having a nice sunny weekend, which was great — actually while June weather was awful, July has been really great, so I can’t complain! I hope you enjoy Maurice when you get there; I’ll probably write about it soon. Good luck finishing Bleak House! I’d love to read some science, but I am worried it would take me a long time to get through a book on the subject, and that I’d feel bogged down. I guess I feel the same way about it you do.

    Bloglily — yes, the bike rides are heavenly, even when the heavens open up and I end up in a downpour! The Coleridge bio continues to be absolutely wonderful.

    Emily — best of luck getting your work finished! There’s nothing like a looming deadline to get me moving, I have to say … and I’ll be back to the deadlines soon enough. Yes, the poetry books are gorgeous!

    Jenclair — thank you! I’ve kept the books out rather than shelving them, so I can keep admiring how lovely they are.

    Cam — I am so lucky to have the down time that I have. I can take it for granted and find things to complain about, but really, I’m very lucky! I hope you find a way to get a sabbatical, in one way or another, or at least get a good long break. How cool that you husband saw Randall and Greene!

    Debby — I’ll admit that 80 miles is often more fun in anticipation and in recollection than in actual reality! I’m very glad to have done the miles, but although they are lots of fun, they also bring a good bit of pain and discomfort. Yes, I feel very lucky to have those books to look forward to!

    Biblibio — poetry can be intimidating, but it’s so worth while to read! I like reading smaller-sized books, so I’m not committing to what might feel like too much. That makes it easier to begin.

  9. You made me laugh when you said you are at the part of summer where motivation to do things is lacking and them immediately said you had gone for an 80 mile bike ride! Those Faber poetry books are beautiful. And the Coleridge biography sounds great. Does Holmes mention at all Coleridge’s love of writing marginalia in books? I’ve heard people would give him their books to write in.

  10. Congratulations on the prize – how wonderful! They look pretty too :)

    Yea, summer for me this year has me feeling very sluggish so just easy reads for me lately!

  11. Holme’s Coleridge is very, very good.

    Thank you for the tip about What the Bleep Do We Know. I’ve watched the trailer and put it on my Lovefilm list. If you are in a science mood, I highly recommend the cosmologist Paul Davies. Any of his books is excellent and accessible reading.

  12. Stefanie — yeah, I guess I’m not entirely consistent :) 80 miles doesn’t really feel like work, though, in an odd kind of way, and so it doesn’t require much motivation. Holmes hasn’t mentioned the marginality, but it sounds just about right that Coleridge was so good at it!

    Iliana — I think they look great, and I’m so pleased to have gotten such a nice gift. And yay for easy reads!

    Anthony — thank you for the recommendation! I will have to look that author up. Excellent and accessible both sound very good.

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