"Reading is to the mind what exercise is to the body" - Richard Steele 1672-1729
This has been a good month for reading. The first since I left work, so it's not surprising that I have increased the amount of books I normally read in a month by about 25%. I read 13 books, 7 of them were library books (well I was a librarian once), 1 was borrowed from a friend, 2 were recent buys and the others were books I 've been meaning to read for a while.
One was non-fiction, an autobiography When I grow up byBernice Rubens, with rest being fiction. Rubens' book was enjoyable, easy to read and was an example of a very different childhood from mine.I am making slow progress with Tomalin's Thomas Hardy, The Time-Torn Man as I decided to read more of his books first. I'd read The Mayor of Castorbridge, The Trumpet Major, Jude the Obscure, and Tess of the D'Urbervilles many years ago. During April I finished Under the Greenwood Tree and I'm currently reading The Woodlanders. Another classic book I finished was Charles Kingsley's The Water Babies - first read when I was a child, although I think the version I read then must have been adapted for children and it was illustrated.
Of the other books The Secret of the last Temple by Peter Sussman, Hallucinating Foucault by Patricia Duncker stand out in my mind. Although not at all alike, I was completely engrossed in both. The Sussman book, because of its intrigue and mystery - a fast action book moving between time and location from Jersualem in AD70, Germany in 1944 to present day Egypt and Israel. One to re-read.Hallucinating Foucault is also a compelling read, for different reasons. It's both a love story and a story of obsession. The scene in the asylum is particularly memorable and disturbing in its depiction of the inmates. The book explores what it is to be "mad" and the relationship between the reader and the writer:
"All writers are, somewhere or other mad. Not les grand fous, like Rimbould, but mad, yes, mad. Because we do not believe in the stability of reality. We know that it can fragment, like a sheet of glass or a car's windscreen. But we also know that reality can be invented, recorded, constructed, remade. Writing is, in itself, an act of violenceperpetrated against reality." (page125)
Also well worth reading, in my opinion are Emotional Geology by Linda Gillard; Gentlemen & Players by Joanne Harris; and On Chesil Beach by Ian McEwan. I enjoyed all the books I read, but then I don't finish any I don't like - life's too short.