Saturday, March 08, 2008

Reading Deadlines

I’m now reading against deadlines. Something I don’t like doing at all and try to avoid. After all, I’m reading for pleasure, not to meet any targets. I thought I’d left that all behind when I left work, where everything had to be planned, approved, reviewed and justified. So why do I find myself this weekend with two books that have to be read by Wednesday and one by next Saturday? Of course in reality I don’t have to read any of them at all.

If I don’t though, one has to be returned to the library unread or pay a fine and think of the poor person who has reserved it waiting patiently (or not) to get the book. This is Marina Lewycka’s Two Caravans and I’ve had it checked out for a long time. My husband has read it and it made such an impression on him that I feel I have to read it. I’m part way through the book and this morning I have been reading about work at the chicken farm. The book is about the lives of immigrant workers, first of all picking strawberries and then working at a chicken farm supplying supermarkets. The blurb on the back of the book indicates it’s an outstandingly funny book and also that it’s “extremely dark”. Dark it certainly is!

For a long while we have known of the terrible conditions of battery hens and have only been buying free-range eggs, but every now and then we have bought supermarket chickens when we couldn’t get free range. A few years ago we saw a TV programme showing the awful state of these chickens and realised that the brown marks on their legs means they have been sitting in their own urine and we have not bought any since that time. Then we noticed that the ends of the legs are now cut off, so you can’t tell if they’re stained. So, it’s only free-range or no chicken for us, despite the extra cost. It's not just the conditions of the chickens, but also the appalling living and working conditions of the workers; there's an awful lot to think about in this book. I have to finish it this weekend.

The second book I must read is Daniel isn’t Talking by Marti Leimbach. My deadline is Wednesday evening when I’ll be going to the book group to discuss this book. So no let up with this book either or there’s not much point in going along and I want to go. I have started to read it and it’s also a book that tugs at your heartstrings. Melanie has two children. Emily is a beautiful little girl; bright, happy and active who loves playing with her toys, painting and all the other things young children enjoy. Daniel, however, is different; he is autistic. The story relates how Daniel is diagnosed, the reactions of his mother and father and the effect it has on their marriage. It’s not an easy read from an emotional viewpoint.

The third book is The House of Mirth by Edith Wharton and I’m reading this to join in the discussion on Saturday with Cornflower’s Book Group. I’ve borrowed this from the library and only collected it on Thursday. I have started it – well I’m up to page 18! It promises to be very interesting. From the back of the book I read:

“First published in 1905 The House of Mirth shocked the New York society it so deftly chronicles, portraying the moral, social and economic constraints on a spirited woman who dared to claim the privileges of marriage without assuming the responsibilities.”

There is an introduction by Nina Bawden, which I have managed not to read – I don’t want to have any more pre-conceived ideas about the book than I’ve already picked up from the back cover.

I’d better stop writing and get reading.


gautami tripathy said...

I cold read only a few books in Feb as I simply could not read. March is a little better but I won't be reading much as I have to evalutate answersheets etc etc. I hate that work!

Cath said...

The House of Mirth was one of my favourite reads last year. Once I got going I found it to be quite a page turner and read it in just a few days. Good luck with it (and the rest.)

BooksPlease said...

GT it's so annoying when work gets in the way of reading! I hope you find more time soon.

Cath, thanks. It's encouraging to know you liked The House of Mirth. I've finished Two Caravans, so now I've got more time for the others.

Tara said...

I've been enjoying catching up on your posts. Two Caravans sounds very interesting. I was flipping around the TV channels last night and came across a film with subtitles that was about farmers and farming practices. The bit I saw was footing from inside a chicken processing plant. It was disturbing and frankly didn't look very clean. My bookclub read Daniel Isn't Talking last year. I'll be interested to read your final thoughts as we enjoyed parts of the book and not others. One woman in my bookclub who is a speech therapist and works with autistic children said that the portrayal of Daniel is very realistic. I read The Innocent Man as well - also for bookclub. The justice system is quite frightening here.

I enjoyed the photos of your pets - congratulations on 200 posts!

Tara said...

Oops, I meant to say footage from inside a chicken processing plant. =-)

BooksPlease said...

Tara, thank you. It's the book group meeting tonight - I'll post on the book either on Friday or Saturday (I hope).