The best cure for getting a little bit tired of reading is, of course, a trip to the bookstore. Hobgoblin and I went on Friday night and I didn’t find anything I liked, being a bit too tired to enjoy myself, but today we checked out one of the used bookstores in town and I had better luck.
The problem with the books that I have on hand, I’ve recently realized, is that I tend to collect books in an optimistic and ambitious frame of mind, thinking that I’ll always have the energy and the interest to read long novels, difficult novels, experimental novels, classics, dense nonfiction, difficult poetry, philosophical treatises, etc. What I neglect to collect is the lighter, comfort read. But of course, I do need lighter, easier books now and then, as most people do, I think.
I’m in the middle of David Markson’s Wittgenstein’s Mistress, which I think you could call an experimental novel, and I’m liking it quite a bit and will be sure to post on it later, but I’m not finding it quite what I want to spend hours and hours with. I prefer it in shorter chunks. So yesterday I picked up one of the books I have on hand that did strike me as something I could spend hours with: Nancy Mitford’s The Pursuit of Love, and, if I like it well enough, I can go on to read Love in a Cold Climate, which is published in the same volume. I’m about halfway through and enjoying it immensely; it’s satire of the English gentry from between the world wars, complete with blustering squires and hunting and balls and class conflict. It’s fun.
And today at the bookstore I picked up two new books that looked good: Mary Elizabeth Braddon’s Lady Audley’s Secret, which I remember hearing good things about on blogs somewhere, although I can’t remember where, and a Virago book, Antonia White’s Frost in May. I don’t know much about White, but I trust the books published by Virago, and the description sounded good:
The Convent of the Five Wounds, where Nanda Grey is sent when she is nine, is on the edge of London — but in 1908 it is a world unto itself. For the young girls receiving a Catholic education behind its walls, religion is a nationality, conformity an entire way of life. In this intense, trouble atmosphere — caught to perfection by a superb writer — passionate friendships are the only deviation. Nanda is thirteen, a normal, quick-witted, spirited girl, when, catastrophically, she breaks the rules and pays too large a price for her transgression.
Interesting, yes? Maybe I should make it a habit to pick up “comfort reads” more often, to balance out my collection a bit. Not a bad excuse to buy more books, is it?