This Charming Bookshelf

So, as I've mentioned before my New Year's Resolution to 'read more books' is sort of getting out of control and I'm reading more than I can comfortably blog about!

I think this is a really good thing.  I have almost completely eliminated television this summer and last week we didn't even turn the TV on until Thursday night and that was only to watch Hurricane coverage on The Weather Channel.

Here's a list of what's been piling up on my reading table:

I read 'The Adventures of Kavalier and Clay ' for my bookclub and until it showed up on our reading list, I had never heard of it.

It's a long book and I have to say I think it's more of a 'guy' book.  I am not and have never been entranced with the world of comic books - as many of my male friends and male cousins have been. 

Having said that, this is a good book - a little long in places - and at the end I wished that Chabon had spent more time letting us into the interior lives of Kavalier and Clay and a little less time waxing rhapsodic about the history of the comics.

But it was good and I'm glad I read it.

'Light in August' was my light beach reading this year.... Oh my goodness....  I continue to be blown away by William Faulkner.  I could literally cry over the number of years that I lived without him!

This book is dark and its hard and its unsettling.  But I loved it.  Sex and race and God and love and blood and heat and light and August....

I was hooked from start to finish.  And now I just want to read it again.

Having NOT had enough of Southern fiction, I finished 'Light in August' and then picked up 'The Moviegoer'.

This is a relatively short read - and it's a sad, poetic and often funny portrait of a disaffected young man who finds no meaning in the reality of his own life and so turns to movies on his 'horizontal search' for the meaning of life - that is when he's not trying to have sex with a succession of secretaries...

And then I re-read 'To Kill a Mockingbird'.  There is NO better way to spend your time and if you are only going to read 5 books in your whole life, this should be number one with a bullet.  Its a perfect book.   It makes me want to marry Atticus Finch and love him up....

I also read 'American Pastoral' by Philip Roth.  I probably should start by saying that I've never read Roth before, which I think may influence my thoughts on this book.  He appears to have a cumulative effect on his readers.  Having said that, if more knowledge of Roth's work in general would have made me think less of 'American Pastoral', then I'm glad I haven't read him. 

The book is about a guy, Swede Levov, who does everything in his life 'right'.  He's hardworking, humble, successful, empathetic, kind, monogamous, attentive to his family, gracious to those around him - and his life goes to shit anyway.  And the book is about his attempts to cope with it and to understand it. 

I was struck by the absence of God in this book.  Swede's Jewish-ness is a central theme, yet he is not observant and has little or no relationship with God.  As he struggles to make sense of his life, of the loss of his child in a way more painful than death, he has no spiritual life and no spiritual framework within which to gain perspective.  I suppose that the absence of God from one's life is not a state to which I can relate, so when Swede had no where to turn except to his own (quite possibly non-existent inner reserves) it was hard for me to relate.  Ultimately, there is a hopelessness to this book, the hopelessness which results from the proposition that life and accomplishment may ultimately be without any reward and that pain and suffering are as inevitable as death. 

The book itself has a strange structure which I found interesting and yet ultimately flawed.  I think the book would have made a stronger impact had it been edited a little differently. 

Nevertheless, I found this book deeply affecting and thought provoking. 

Next up:  'The Heart is a Lonely Hunter' by Carson McCullers, 'Freedom' by Jonathan Franzen and 'I, Claudius' by Robert Graves.  


  1. Yay! You've actually shamed me into going back to reading, as well...Freedom is on my to-read list, too. I've heard it's not quite as good as The Corrections, but pretty close!

    This won't affect your relationship with Leroy Jethro Gibbs when he returns this fall, will it?

  2. My commitment to Jethro is total! I will always make time for him.

    And I'm happy I 'shamed' you into reading more!! That made me laugh.

  3. Whew. Glad to see your priorities are still in check...


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