I may have gotten a little carried away on my last visit to the local library, because my current reading list is long, very long, particularly when I still have around 400 pages to go in Vikram Seth’s ‘A Suitable Boy’ (which, to be fair, puts me over two thirds of the way through it). Still, at least it gives me a varied literary diet.
‘Brave New World’, by Alodus Huxley (1932): This is one of those books I’ve been meaning to read for a while, and I wasn’t disappointed, blasting through the entire 206 pages in a single weekend. While I’m glad I happened to have read Shakespeare’s ‘The Tempest’ not too long ago, as Huxley’s work references The Bard’s tale extensively, not having done so wouldn’t have been any barrier to my enjoyment. The ‘Brave New World’ is a place of strict class hierarchy enforced by both in-utero engineering (children are conceived artificially in jars and ‘decanted’ rather than born) and years of conditioning. The result is a society in which thinking outside the box is not only dangerous but also rather difficult, so when a handful of individuals are, for various reasons, compelled to do exactly that you know it isn’t going to end well for anyone.
‘The Twenty Greatest Philosophy Books’, by James Garvey (2006): This book is ambitious in scope but also ridiculously easy to read. While I doubt I’ll tackle all twenty books listed it’s good to have at least an introduction to what some of the most influential books in the history of Western philosophy are all about. And having made it through Plato’s ‘Republic’ (first on the list, which is arranged chronologically), I may just have a go at at least a few more.
‘Jerusalem Sonnets’, by James K. Baxter (1975): I wrote about this already in my recent post on New Zealand literature, so I don’t really have anything else to add, except that it’s nice to tackle something that managed to be both worthwhile and short!
‘The Years’, by Virginia Woolf (1939): This seems to be the only book by Virginia Woolf that my library carries, which is sadly indicative of their attitude towards the classics in general (although I have noticed a few new purchases, so evidently someone is on a campaign to improve the situation). Thus far I’ve just finished the first section, 1890, and am looking forward to following the freshly-bereaved Pargiters through the coming decades. I’m especially curious about old Colonel Pargiter’s mistress and the child she seems to be carrying, and what may happen when s/he reveals him/herself to the Colonel’s legitimate children.
’50 Contemporary Artists You Should Know’, by Brad Finger and Christiane Weidemann (2011): By now you may have gathered that when it comes to Modern Art I’d really rather pull the blankets over my head and wait for the nightmare to go away, but since that isn’t going to happen I’m trying to cultivate at least an appreciation of, if I can’t achieve a love for, the subject. Is it working? Time will tell.
As I mentioned I’m also continuing to work my way through ‘A Suitable Boy’, and trying, with some success, to catch up on my Bible reading. At the moment I’m tackling Numbers and 1 Chronicles, as well as continuing to work my way slowly through the Psalms. Although I may take a detour to the Epistles sometime soon, just to throw a bit of New Testament in there.
Seven books is quite a reading list. How about you? Are you a bit more focussed than me? Have you recently discovered something un-put-downable? Let me know.