Home Again

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.

13 Comments

Filed under Books, Life

13 responses to “Home Again

  1. I read Doris Lessing’s novel The Golden Notebook many, many, many years ago, but I can remember thinking “I wish I had written this book”–there aren’t many books I can say that about, although there are so many books I really love, but this resonated with me as I was at the time. It is long, but worth reading…at least I think so…I’ve changed a lot since then. I’ll be curious to hear what you think of it, actually.

    I’m also going to the Morgan Library in January–can hardly wait. A very special event.

    Treasure these Xmas visits in which you can read–I took a couple of books on my sojourn to relatives-land, and didn’t find a spare moment in which to read, though we played games, watched movies, ate, etc.

    Welcome back.

  2. That sounds like the perfect Christmas to me! It’s nice you can curl up in a chair and read with so many siblings about. I’m envious of your books as I only was given one, but I received some gift cards that I’ll be rationing out, so I really can’t complain. The Jane Austen book sounds good–you’ll have to share when you see the exhibit! Enjoy the rest of your break and hope you get in even more reading time.

  3. The Golden Notebook is an exceptional book. It is a visceral experience that makes you a participant in an emotional odyssey. I broke my reading at least twice because I needed a break but while I was reading other shorter books, I felt the urge to return quickly to see how the book played out. It is one of few great books I, currently, feel little compulsion to reread. It was riveting to inhabit the interior of Anna Wulf but 3 or so years later, the memory is still to raw to wish to recreate.

  4. That sounds like a really wonderful Christmas, Dorothy – just perfect relaxation. And lovely new books. I’m very interested what you think about the Nicholson Baker and I’ll add my vote for The Golden Notebook. I thought it was an amazing novel, too.

  5. bardiac

    Welcome home! Great books and good company, sounds like a lovely holiday!

  6. What a wonderful Christmas it sounds like you had, and yummy new books too! Your choice of the Corrigan to read during the holiday could not have been more perfect I think! Welcome back!

  7. “Hobgoblin came through for me…” I love that!

    The Gutkind essay books intrigue me and I will have to look those up; the Lessing as well. Everyone was very generous at Christmas here and I promise to show off my new stack of books soon. The Priestley has also been “dispatched” from the UK and I’m hovering around the mailbox.

    Happy New Year and New Books!

  8. Mmmm, what a lovely holiday – this last weekend was full of work for me, but I finished the thing on which I was working to deadline last night, so I get my much-wished-for vacation over New Years instead. CAN’T WAIT.

    I’ll be curious about your impressions of The Golden Notebook – I had some pretty profound problems with Lessing, but there were also things about the novel that appealed to me.

  9. Hope you have fun with The Anthologist! It was one of my favourite recent reads.
    And I read The Golden Notebook even though I was a bit scared I wouldn’t ‘get it’, being out of academia for so long. But I was really impressed with it, and enjoyed reading it — and if evenI managed it, you will have no difficulty with it, I am sure! ;)

  10. That sounds like such a wonderful and relaxing holiday! I’m taking note of some of the books you got because they sound so good and I hadn’t heard of them before.

    I hope you enjoy The Golden Notebook – I tried reading that one time but I think I wasn’t really ready for the book so gave up on it very quickly. Would love to give it another try sometime.

  11. Hurray was Sherlock Holmes not the perfect kind of fun, seedy romp for Christmas? It kind of made me want to watch ‘Oliver’ again (the Polanski version) because it has the same kind of indulgence in the nastier side of Victorian life about it. What do you think about the fact that there will be a sequel (probably leading to a trilogy – I think it could do without it really).

  12. JaneGS — I’m glad to hear the Lessing meant so much to you. I look forward to a long and challenging read — they can be so satisfying. And yes, being able to read during a family gathering is great, particularly since my family is so large and there are always lots of people around.

    Danielle — my family tends to be very quiet, and it helped that the book I was reading (the Corrigan) didn’t require super-close concentration. I’ll definitely post on the Austen exhibit — it’s perfect for this blog!

    Anthony — interesting that your reading experience was so intense. I’ll make sure I’m ready for it before I pick the book up. I can see that it might not be a book to reread, but certainly a book to savor the first time through.

    Litlove — good to hear your approval of Lessing, and I’m loving the Baker, which comes as no surprise to me. It’s a super-fast read, and I’m already over halfway through. I may even reread it when I’m finished because I’ve been enjoying it so much!

    Bardiac — it was, thank you!

    Stefanie — Corrigan WAS absolutely perfect, and not really because I used it as a shield to keep people from bothering me :) It worked because I could read it in short bits and still make sense of the whole thing.

    Debby — I’m looking forward to hearing about your books! I’m very curious about the Gutkind as well; I don’t think it will rival the Lopate anthology in my affections, but I still think it will be good. I’ll certainly let you know.

    Emily — congrats on making it to your vacation! I’m glad you finished up your work and can enjoy yourself now. All these comments have gotten me very interested in Lessing. I don’t think I’ll pick it up very soon, but I’m looking forward to the time when I can.

    Melanie — I’m over halfway through the Baker and really loving it — it is such a wonderful book! It’s most likely appearing on my best-of list when I get around to writing one up. And I’m so glad to hear you enjoyed Lessing — I’m intimidated by it too and am glad to hear you did well with it :)

    Iliana — I think a person needs to be in just the right mood for Lessing and she’ll be around for both of us when we are ready for her :)

    Jodie — yeah, exactly, it was a fun, seedy romp. I wasn’t fond of the action scenes, but I usually feel that way about any movie with action in it. Otherwise, it was great fun and Robert Downey Jr. did a good job, I thought. Not sure about a sequel, but I wouldn’t mind checking it out — they were very obvious about setting one up.

  13. Two days of sloth and book acquisitions–doesn’t that sound like heaven!

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