Hobgoblin and I returned home today, and our trip turned out to be the kind that’s perfect for recovering from a busy semester. I spent most of my time curled up in a chair right next to the wood stove in my parents’ dining room/family room either reading or working on crossword puzzles. In fact, I didn’t set one foot outdoors for a solid two days, and although I’ve become the kind of person who likes being outdoors, that kind of sloth is exactly what I wanted. When I finally stirred out of my chair, it was to go see the Sherlock Holmes movie (silly, fun, good if you don’t take it seriously). The next day I went with seven other family members to hang out in a bookstore and have lunch. And that is everything I did. Oh, I also got to babysit my one-year-old niece, who is utterly adorable. As always, though, I was happy to hand her back to her mother once the crying began.
I finished one book, Maureen Corrigan’s Leave Me Alone, I’m Reading (which is the perfect book to read during a family holiday, in fact — it sends just the right message, if that is the message you want to send), and I came home with a bunch more. Hobgoblin came through for me and gave me Nicholson Baker’s new novel The Anthologist. I dropped enough hints about wanting this book that even the densest person could have figured it out, and Hobgoblin is anything but dense. I’ll be reading it next, and I’m SO looking forward to it.
Hobgoblin also gave me Doris Lessing’s novel The Golden Notebook, which is something I’ve been wanting to read for a long time. I’m a bit intimidated by the length and seriousness of the book, but that’s what draws me to it too. It seems like it will be a good book for summer when I have enough time to dig into it.
I also received P.D. James’s Talking About Detective Fiction and Joyce Cary’s Herself Surprised as Christmas gifts from a friend, but I already wrote about those.
And then there are the books I brought home from the family bookstore excursion. First there is John D’Agata’s anthology The Lost Origins of the Essay. I’m on a mission to collect every good essay anthology out there, apparently, and this one looks great. The back cover says it’s “an anthology in the service of a wonderful idea: that the essay has been encumbered by its obligation to tell us the facts. It prefers the delicacy of Montaigne’s ‘What do I know?’ to the assertive ‘I know’ of information culture.” It sounds like a concept I can get behind.
And then I picked up Lee Gutkind’s essay anthology The Best Creative Nonfiction, Volume I, which I’ve seen in stores before (there are three volumes now) but never felt ready to buy. I’ve read Gutkind’s anthology In Fact: The Best of Creative Nonfiction and liked it, and as I understand it, the three follow-up creative nonfiction volumes are an attempt to collect pieces from lesser-known publications and blogs. I’m guessing it’s meant as competition to the Best American Essay series, perhaps trying to be edgier and less mainstream. I’m willing to give it a try.
And finally I couldn’t resist Dierdre Le Faye’s Jane Austen: The World of Her Novels, which is a gorgeous book with lots of color photos. It gives biographical and cultural background on Austen and her times and then looks at each novel and discusses its context. I’m planning to see the exhibit on Austen at the Morgan Library in a couple weeks, and this seemed like the perfect book to get in honor of the occasion.
So that was my holiday; I hope everyone enjoyed their time over the last week, and I hope to be back soon with some year-end wrapping up.