First of all, a cycling update: it appears that I’m going to be racing more this year than I thought. Since I posted on the subject just a few days ago, I’ve had a conversation with a friend who is an awesome Ironman triathlete but who has never ridden in a bike race before, and she basically said she will race if I will. Now I don’t want to feel pushed into bike racing because of guilt, but I don’t think that’s what’s going on. The conversation made me feel more enthusiasm for the whole enterprise than I felt before, and I do like the idea of helping other women get into bike racing (and will probably go on to watch them do better than I do, but that’s okay). If they need some moral support, I’m happy to help out.
It’s funny that female solidarity will tempt me to race much more so than the desire to win, but that’s just the way I am. The first race of the season is only two weeks from today, and I’m looking forward to much pain and suffering. Makes you want to race, doesn’t it?
Then I thought I’d tell you about some new books I’ve acquired. First, a copy of Rebecca West’s novel This Real Night recently arrived via Bookmooch. This is the second book in a trilogy that began with The Fountain Overflows, one of her most famous books (if not the most famous). I have a copy of the third in the trilogy, Cousin Rosamund, so, when I get around to it, I can read the entire thing. I suspect that the first novel is the best (although I have no real reason to say this except that the trilogy as a whole isn’t famous — only the first book is), but I’d like to read the whole thing anyway.
And then there is David Foster Wallace’s magnum opus Infinite Jest, which Hobgoblin gave me for my birthday a few weeks ago. This is not a book I’ll read very soon, as I need more time and energy than I have right now — and I’m in the middle of William Gaddis’s The Recognitions, and I need only one large, ambitious, experimental, monumental book going on at a time. Perhaps I’ll get to it this summer. At any rate, I love what Wallace I’ve read so far, so I’m eager to see if I like his fiction.
I also have a copy of Karen Armstrong’s spiritual memoir The Spiral Staircase, which a friend sent to me, also for my birthday. I’ve read this one before, but it was a while ago, and I remember really loving it and I’d like to read it again. Does anybody happen to know of any books similar to Armstrong’s they can recommend? I do enjoy a thoughtful, smart, idea-driven memoir now and then and would like to find more of them.
And then a few books I’d like to have (along with some unlimited time to read them, please):
- Muriel Barbery’s The Elegance of the Hedgehog. This book seems to be very popular right now and it has a quirky title, both of which make me hesitate, but after reading Diana’s review of it, I’m curious. It seems like it might be exactly the kind of thing I like.
- Lydia Davis’s Varieties of Disturbance: Stories. I’m very curious about what this book is like; all I know is that the stories are very (very) short and that they experiment with language. And I know that Davis has translated Proust.
- Maria DiBattista’s Imagining Virginia Woolf: An Experiment in Critical Biography. Everything about this title sounds fabulous to me, from the Woolf reference to the words “experiment” and “biography.” Surely this is a book I will like??
- Hermione Lee’s Virginia Woolf. I’m reading a biography of Austen right now, and it’s high time I read one of Woolf. I’m slow to pick up biographies sometimes, but I really do need to read biographies of the authors that are most important to me, as those two surely are.
- Steven Nadler’s The Best of All Possible Worlds: A Story of Philosophers, God, and Evil. I don’t often read this kind of book, but I’m definitely attracted to it — the intellectual history kind about a particular moment in philosophy, science, or religion, the kind of book that’s interesting both for the ideas and for the historical background it offers.
- Marilynne Robinson’s Home. I loved Gilead, and this one is tangentially related to it, and besides, I think Robinson is wonderful.
Time to start reading!