Monday, December 21, 2009

Christmas reading

At one time I updated my reading list on this blog with regularity, but these days as I seem to have more of a life that has fallen by the wayside. There have been a few books I have read recently that I have really enjoyed. One was 'American Wife' by Curtis Sittenfeld which is about the life of a woman, politically a liberal, who somehow ends up as the First Lady married to a deeply unpopular right wing American president who takes the country into an illegal war. Now who could that be based upon I wonder? The book was full of surprises, it made me literally laugh out loud on a crowded train, and it made me cry as well, as cringe at the thought of George W having sex. Confessing that she voted for his Democratic opponent in the presidential election our heroine comments: 'During the periods when I've been the most frustrated by our lives, or by what is happening in this country, I've looked outside at the cars and pedestrians our motorcades pass and I've thought, All I did is marry him. You are the ones who gave him power.' Anyway - loved that.

Also loved, loved, loved both 'The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo' and 'The Girl who Played with Fire' by Stieg Larsson. Clever stuff indeed and I cannot wait for the third and sadly final book in the series ( seeing as how Larsson only went and died before he could write more - some people are so inconsiderate!) to arrive via Amazon in the next day or two.

And that brings me to my problem. Last year at Christmas found me wading my way through 'War and Peace'. The previous Christmas I landed myself with 'Schindler's Ark'. Both of those are obviously great books - but a barrel of laughs they generally ain't, give or take one or two lines in Tolstoy. This year - why oh why oh why - I find myself stuck with 'The Name of the Rose' by Umberto Eco. Yeah gods it is such hard going! It makes me feel like I am really intellectually challenged/ aka thick. I'm celebrating a small triumph this morning though.

At the heading of each chapter Eco gives a short breakdown of what to expect in the coming pages along the lines of 'In which Adso looks at a church door (and describes it for five and a half interminable pages) and William has an intellectual conversation about whether men of God should laugh (which continues, mainly in Latin, for ever as far as I can see).' (Comments in brackets are mine.) Anyway - my small triumph is that I have just read Chapter 11 'In which Jane practically understood what went on for the first time since she picked the book up'. It's a nightmare.

BUT - Reidski has a hard and fast rule that when one starts to read a book one has to finish it - no matter how shite it is (unless it is something by Dan Brown of course), and no matter how difficult. If I finish this blasted book I will feel a sense of achievement; never mind that I have no expectations whatsoever of understanding it. A quick straw poll of some of my clever friends has yet to yield anyone who managed to stick with this book to the end. And in the post - any day now - will arrive a book I am desperate to read. So dear readers - what will I do? Abandon 'The Name of the Rose' for something readable, knowing full well I will never return to find out who is behind the mass murders that took place in an Italian monastery in the early thirteenth century, or do I plough on with the promise of 'The Girl who Kicked the Hornet's Nest' as a reward for doing Eco? Is my will power strong enough to resist one and stick with the other? I very much doubt it. Christmas Day really should surely be about easy reading, but it does look as though for the third year in a row my reading may be just about turning pages as quickly as possible for all the wrong reasons.

Have made note to self not to start any difficult or depressing book next Decemeber time.


naldo said...

Erm....i'd do yirsel a favour and watch the film. It's no bad ataw and you'll find out who's doin the killings and why.

I used apply the Reidski Rule but decided life's too short for some o the faff i put masel through.

Those Larsson books could be worth a swatch.

Yorkshire Pudding said...

What's all this about Reading? Reading's time in the sunshine is over and now Reading are struggling in The Championship. Stick with Reading through Christmas if you insist but I thought you'd be watching NTFC.

J.J said...

Am sticking with the Name of the Rose Naldo - half way through and counting the pages off. Understand approximatley half of it (I think!) But the Larsson books are superb - highly recommended.

Mr Pudding - I have a soft spot for Reading as it happens. As for watching NTFC over Xmas - guaranteed to give me dreadful indigestion the way things are with the team at the moment. Absolutely Bloody Shockingly Bad.

Gill said...

oh it's a pile of crap- don't bother with it any longer. Basically it's just the da vinci code with a bit of pseudo intellectual post modern theory wound round it, and life is far too short to keep reading crap books when there are so many good ones.

J.J said...

Gill I can not tell you how much I wish I had seen your comment before I finished the damn book. I will be giving 'Foucault's Pendulum' a miss. The last Larsson book though is unputdownable. I am LOVING it.

Lisa Rullsenberg said...

have you finshed Hornet's nest yet? What did you think?!!!

(Email me to avoid spoilers for your readers but what a great trilogy of books they are!)

J.J said...

Oh my god Lisa - how fantatsic is that book? I am bereft that there can be no more. :-(

J.J said...

'Fantastic' also.