Back in June I asked about your summer reading plans and got lots of interesting responses. So I thought I’d try again: what’s on your reading schedule for the holiday, and for 2010? Did Santa bring you any books — or an e-reader that you’ll need to fill? Perhaps you received (or gave) something our Christmas Critics recommended? (I’d also like to know how those of you who laid out your summer reading lists in June have kept up with your plans. The one thing Santa didn’t bring me is more time to read!)
I’ll get the ball rolling: a week before Christmas I traveled by train to Boston, and finished Eamon Duffy’s Faith of Our Fathers (excellent) on the way there. I stopped into a used books store in Cambridge and picked up a copy of Evelyn Waugh’s Decline and Fall to keep me company on my way home. You don’t need me to tell you to read that, but it was a very good choice. I had to suppress many laughs along the way (so as not to alarm my seatmate), and I made it to the last page just as we were approaching Penn Station.
I’ve been working my way through another used-books-store paperback, George Eliot’s Scenes of Clerical Life. It ‘s a collection of short stories/novellas reputed to appeal only to Eliot completists — I think that’s unfair, but I am a little obsessed, so I may not be the best judge. Still, it’s far more entertaining than its title suggests, and I’d recommend it to anyone daunted by the length of, say, Middlemarch or Daniel Deronda. I’m halfway through the last of the stories, “Janet’s Repentance” — another grim title, but I am pleased to report I’ve been laughing out loud just as much as I did reading Waugh. (I’m reading the Penguin Classics edition, edited by David Lodge, another writer who’s always good for a laugh.)
A few weeks ago I went with my sister to the Jane Austen exhibit at the Morgan Library. One of the things I learned there was how much Austen admired and was influenced by the eighteenth-century novelist Frances Burney. Among the items on display is an early copy of Burney’s Cecilia, open to the page near the end where the phrase “PRIDE and PREJUDICE” appears. Well, I received my very own (non-antique) copy of Cecilia as a Christmas gift from my godson (I suspect my sister, his mother, did his shopping!), so it looks like that will be my big reading-for-fun project for 2010.
How about you?