Saturday, July 01, 2006

Saturday randomness

  • I had my first in-person book club meeting yesterday, and my first online one as well, and both turned out to be fun. For the in-person one, we discussed Ann Tyler's book Digging to America. There were four of us, so it was small and comfortable, and the discussion was good; we had some interesting disagreements, nice ones, to keep things lively. We plan on meeting again in a month or so and reading John Updike's new novel Terrorist. The discussion for the online book group, the Slaves of Golconda, is ongoing over at Metaxu Cafe.
  • Yesterday, while I was waiting for the pizza I'd ordererd to be ready, I wandered into the one used bookstore in town I hadn't yet visited. I'm embarrassed at how long it took me to get there -- I live in a small town with a surprisingly large number of used bookstores, four, and I guess I was satisfied with the other three. But now I've checked it out, and it's small, with a specialty in history books which I tend not to read that much, but it has some good fiction shelves as well. I came across two Elizabeth Taylor books, In a Summer Season and The Sleeping Beauty. I'd only heard of Taylor recently, on blogs, and she seems like someone I should check out.
  • I joined the Proust reading group. The group blog is Involuntary Memory; if anyone is interested in joining, let Stefanie know -- she's the organizer, and I'm sure she'd love it if you joined. I've never read Proust before, beyond perhaps a quotation here and there, so I'm excited. The people I know who've read Proust -- okay, two of them -- enjoyed it but struggled a bit too. One of these people is still slowly working his way through the novel, I think, although he may have abandoned it. So my impression is that I've gotten myself into something big. But I love big reading goals, and I like very much the idea of doing this with a group, for the deadlines and for the discussion. It looks like we'll be reading at the pace of 50-60 pages a week, which is manageable for me.
  • But in order to get ready for Proust, I want to finish the big novel I'm in the middle of right now: The Tale of Genji. It's almost 1,100 pages, and I've got about 400 left. I'm enjoying it, but ... you know that feeling when you get 2/3 or 3/4 of the way through something and you start to get anxious because you're ready to finish it and move on to something else? I'm in that mode right now. So I should dedicate this weekend to finishing it, and by that time my Proust volumes should have arrived in the mail.
  • I'm also itching to finish my nonfiction read, Privacy, and move on. It's a really interesting cultural and literary history of privacy in the 18C, but again, I'm ready for something else. I'll be reading a biography of Olaudah Equiano next which I'll be reviewing for a journal, and then I think I'll pick up Elaine Scarry's On Beauty and Being Just.
  • Last but not least -- I'm on vacation until July 10th. I'll be home, and posting regularly, but I'll be lounging around, reading, and riding my bike and not thinking about work at all. Yippee!