What Should I Read?

If you’re a book lover than I know you have the same problem as me: buying more books when there are still loads of unread books sitting on the shelves.

In an effort to get some of those read sooner rather than later, I need some peer pressure, which is where you come in.

I would like for you to choose one of the books I read before the end of the year. The end of the year probably sounds like a massive amount of time to get this reading in but actually we’re already well into October and November will be here before you know it and then the holidays will hit and I’m not heading to any cozy, log house for the holidays this year. That’s where I get my best reading done!

Without further ado, here are some of the books languishing on my shelves. Which should I read? Vote at the bottom!

Charles Dickens: A Life by Claire Tomalin. I’ve read about his children and I’ve read some of his work and I really want to read this bio but I haven’t yet. I’ve also just found out that Tomalin wrote a biography of Jane Austen which is something I’m going to be looking into!

Carry on Jeeves by PG Wodehouse. I read a Jeeves omnibus last year and it was looooong. Which is probably why this little volume has been flying under the radar but I do love a good Jeeves story or two.

A Train in Winter: An Extraordinary Story of Women, Friendship and Survival in World War Two by Caroline Moorehead. I realized the other day how long I have been holding onto this one – Moorehead just had another book published about a village in France. I think I shy away from this one every time because I think it will be a difficult read but maybe it’s time has come?

Night Film by Marisha Pessl. When I first got this book (for Christmas) I was so excited to read it. And then every time I went to go and do just that, I would flip through it and think that maybe it was too scary for me. But Halloween is coming up…

The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas. I know that reading this book will kill my book stats but since there is very little hope of beating my insane 2013 reading total of 115, maybe now’s the time to take the hit?



Sunday, Reading Sunday

I haven’t been around here very much lately and now I’m just going to waltz in here with a new post like nothing’s happened. How about them apples?

One Sunday not too long ago, I had one of those magical days where I got up early (thanks to a 75lb German Shepherd jumping on the bed), ran a bunch of errands and got home with plenty of the day left to do nothing with.

It was a pretty typical windy, rainy, dark November day so there really was nothing to do about that except read (such a hardship).

It turned out to be an exceptionally productive day.

My read-a-thon began with the second half of Jane Austen’s Persuasion. This is one of Jane Austen’s books that I hadn’t read more than once (now only Mansfield Park fits that bill) but I recently watched The Jane Austen Book Club and they were all over Persuasion and second chances and I thought that I’d better give it another go too. A lot happens in Persuasion! Lost love, dead fiancees, a very serious head injury, and a little boy is almost paralyzed! Not your typical Austen. I mean, usually there is a serious illness of two but this one was almost gratuitous.

Persuasion is the tale of Anne Eliot, eight years after she is persuaded not to marry the love of her life. He comes back to town after years of making his fortune on the seas, only to appear to fall in love with a friend of hers. When her father sells their house and moves to Bath, Anne follows without any idea of its giving her any joy (because her father and sister are jerks). Well it does. A lifetime’s worth in fact. The first time I read Persuasion I was probably 15 or 16 and Anne seemed OLD. She’s 27. Honestly, the first time I felt like Anne was all but dead. Naturally this time around, Anne didn’t seem old at all. In fact she’s right about the perfect age (until I turn 28 in the Spring and then she will be really young).

When I finished Persuasion, I thought that I’d better get started on the book club selection since we were meeting on the following Friday. The selection was The Perks of Being A Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky. I didn’t think that I would enjoy this book (seems to be a theme this year). I don’t normally like books that are written in diary style (I hated Bridget Jones’ Diary for example [the book, the movie is one of my all-time favourites]). But I loved it. It’s not a long book – just over 200 pages. I read it in a couple of hours – I couldn’t stop. I was so attached to Charlie and needed to find out what happened to Sam and Patrick, even Mary Elizabeth. It’s one of those brilliant coming-of-age stories that’s just non-descript enough to resonate with everyone, no matter when they grew up. It is tragic and heart breaking and completely relevant, touching on bullying, teen pregnancy and mental illness.

Finally, I had time to jump into another P.G. Wodehouse adventure, Ring For Jeeves. Sadly no Bertie Wooster this time (you may remember that I declared him to be one of my new favourite characters) but Wodehouse made up for it by the introduction of the equally absurd William, 9th Early of Rowcester. Jeeves has been leant out while Bertie goes to some school where they teach the aristocracy how to take care of themselves (he gets kicked out for employing an old lady to darn his socks), and ends up at Rowcester Abbey. Here the 9th Earl finds himself completely impoverished and after getting engaged, decides he needs to make some money. Instead of getting a job, he impersonates a bookie and runs off with the winnings. Jeeves is a completely willing accomplice and they’d been getting away with it until one Captain Biggar reads the license plate of the getaway car and finds himself at Rowcester Abbey. There are all sorts of other insane connections and complications that make this another masterpiece of absurd hilarity but I don’t want to ruin all the fun for you. Suffice it to say I’m eagerly anticipating which Jeeves book I’m going to get my hands on next.

What did I tell you? Productive Sunday right?


P.G. Wodehouse

Sometimes my own literary non-knowledge shames me. For some reason I had always assumed that P.G. Wodehouse was a terribly dull philosopher of some kind. Don’t ask. I have no idea where this notion came from.

I could not have been more wrong.

I was reading this interview with J.K. Rowling on my way to the library the other day (I think we have discussed my love of/obsession with J.K. Rowling?) and she mentioned that she would like to meet P.G. Wodehouse. She made him sound delightfully eccentric and my curiousity was piqued. It was a done deal when she mentioned that she would take the complete works of P.G. Wodehouse with her on a deserted island. When I arrived at the library I was resolved to find some Wodehouse to take home with me.

The day was grey and foggy and generally perfect for reading and Jeeves and the Feudal Spirit was a delight. Wodehouse responsible for Jeeves! I was having quite an eye opening day.

In Jeeves and the Feudal Spirit, Bertram Wooster is tasked with helping his Aunt Dahlia out of a jam when she needs to sell her newspaper to a man whose wife controls every aspect of his life. Bertram finds himself engaged no less than 3 times to a woman who is extremely fickle in love and who he really does not want to marry. He doesn’t even ask her, it just keeps happening. And, in what I assume is regular Wodehouse fashion, Jeeves is called upon to help get everyone out of all of these schemes.

I think that Bertie Wooster might be one of my favourite characters in literature. He’s a complete twit – in the first pages he’s grown a David Niven-esque moustache that everyone tells him looks ridiculous but he insists on keeping the status quo. He’s completely puffed up with self importance, refers to his Aunt Dahlia as “aged relative” to her face and is extremely keen on avoiding the fists of one Mr. Cheesewright.

I cannot tell you how delighted I was with this book. It starts out in London, in a comedic kind of Upstairs Downstairs, and eventually moves to a country house. Everyone knows that the best kinds of things happen at English country houses. Wodehouse, Agatha Christie, Jane Austen, and more recently Alan Bradley and Kate Morton, are majorly responsible for this notion.

It’s a short book, just 212 pages, but it is filled with hijinx, capers and fantastic characters. The names that Wodehouse comes up with alone are worth the read. Lemuel Gengulphus! Tom Portarlington! G. D’Arcy Cheesewright! Having been a long time student of J.K. Rowling’s work I can honestly see that she had been heavily influenced by Wodehouse’s work. She does similar things with naming characters and her style of humour is also very similar.

If you love Rowling’s work, are keen on books set in English country houses and would be into an Agatha Christie type novel without dead bodies, you will love Jeeves and the Feudal Spirit. I’d take it a step further and say you would enjoy any of Wodehouse’s work but having not read any more, I can’t be sure just yet.