The Summer Books

July 2, 2011 § Leave a comment

John Banville doesn’t seem to need stories the way he used to and Philip Roth has also stopped reading fiction in favour of history and biographies. Does anybody bother with books anymore?

Well, of course they do, that’s silly. But I had to segue into my summer reading list somehow.

Franzen’s reading The Art of Fielding and Deborah Eisenberg is returning to an old favourite, the 1920s Hungarian Skylark. Emma Donoghue happily maintains that books are the air she breathes so she doesn’t notice the seasons, which is just so lovely and non-Banvilleian. That’s it, she’s my new favourite Irish writer after McGahern. I should probably get round to reading Room so…

It’s on my shelf.

Along with Along the Ganges, The Age of Kali, Midnight’s Children and India: a Traveler’s Literary CompanionIan and I are so excited to travel to India and Nepal in September. He prepares by mapping out walking routes on Google Earth and buying comprehensive travel insurance. I get ready by reading the stories, lore and legends of the countries I’m travelling to. Next up is the remarkable Dervla Murphy’s Full Tilt: from Dublin to Dehli with a Bicycle

If anyone has any other suggestions, do send them my way!

I’ve become somewhat distracted by guidebooks and travel literature lately. I fear I won’t complete my ambitious One Hundred by the end of this year. I’m okay-ish with that. I recognise it now as being a goal born out of – I was going to say boredom but I think ‘a need for purpose and structure’ is more accurate. I wanted to read more of the Classics I’d never got round to and I’ve achieved that, finishing Jane Eyre and more recently Pride and Prejudice. I’ll definitely continue with the list but I’m also willing to wander from the path every now and then.

Sticking to the path, I have Hemingway’s For Whom the Bell Tolls to read for my book-group this month. Remembering summers past and other wonderful journeys I’ve taken, I also want to read the Finnish author Tove Jannson’s The Summer Book. I guess I could stick to my list and a travel theme by choosing to read Dorothy Richardson’s Pilgrimage next. Perhaps Huxley’s Brave New World…? Or Ciro Alegria’s Broad and Alien is the World…?

I might just manage those by the end of August. Summer is slowly creeping into Oregon, there’s so much to see and do beyond a book and I want to spend time with loved ones before vanishing for nine months. And while Ian gets on with tickets and maps, my big travel question is do I travel with a practical Kindle or stick to my beloved paper and spine books? So much to plan! Will we ever get there?!

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