Friday 12 February 2010

Stuck-in-a-Book's Weekend Miscellany

These weeks do come around quickly, don't they? Hope you're all ready for a fun Valentine's Weekend - that's right, I'm one of those few single people who finds Valentine's Day rather sweet. Not the commercial bit of it, no, but the fact that it makes people take time out to celebrate their relationships. Awww.....

But I haven't availed myself of the opportunity to make this a themed Weekend Miscellany, you'll be pleased to hear. Instead, we have our usual mixture of interesting link, blog post, and book. Here goes...

1.) The blog post - I have my friend Barbara to thank for bringing this to my attention: anyone interested in old Penguin paperbacks should go and check out this lovely post on a blog called Spitalfields Life.

2.) The book - is, sadly, not one which has landed on my doormat. I spotted it mentioned on Claire's (aka The Captive Reader) blog, and - unusually? - it's a great book which is available in the US and not the UK. Well, available in Canada too, presumably, if Claire has a copy - my other deductions come courtesy of Amazon snooping! Enough preamble - the book is A Truth Universally Acknowledged: 33 Gre
at Writers on Why We Read Jane Austen. I confess I was a little dubious - would this be a collection of modern 'great writers' of whom I'd never heard? Or, worse, Danielle Steele informing me that Elinor Dashwood is, essentially, the same as the heroine of her latest novel. But no - this appears to be a collection of essays spanning the years, and the writers in question include Virginia Woolf, Eudora Welty, W. Somerset Maugham, Fay Weldon, CS Lewis, David Lodge, Harold Bloom, the director of Clueless... and, yes, quite a few people I wouldn't know from Adam - but enough there to make me hanker rather a lot for this collection.

3.) The link - if you ignore the unbookish caption to this video, and close your mind to the destruction of a book or two, then this link is rather fun, and very inventive...


  1. I'm down to the last 50 pages of A Truth Universally Acknowledged and it's been a great read. I love reading about Austen's works almost as much as I love reading them. I really liked David Lodge's essay on Emma - a favoured author writing about one of my favourite books. I'd seen some of the essays (or excerpts) elsewhere, but many of them are delightfully new.

  2. Saw the book on Austen at BookBath and thought it looked wonderful. Are you reading to add number 5 to your list now? Lol.

    The 100 Penguins.. aMAZing! THanks!

  3. I meant ready, not reading. :D

  4. I love the video -- that's Maurice Gibb of the BeeGees, isn't it. Very inventive and entertaining. Also love the 100 Penguins -- I never thought to look for numbers on the backs of these old ones but will do so forthwith.

  5. I do love your miscellany posts, Simon, and you inspired me to start my own. I like the conciseness of yours and how you highlight a blog, a book and bookish link; I also love the rainbow aesthetic.

    I have a confession to make: I have an aversion to spotted second-hand books and some of those Penguins look OLD. I am not ageist and I love the aesthetic but I prefer new books; when I have to buy something second-hand (VMC or something out-of-print) then I hunt for it in good condition.

  6. I actually have *A Truth Universally Acknowledged* on my bedside table - from the library. I haven't started it yet (and have already renewed it once), but plan on getting to it this week. It was the first book in my new "read it from the library first and see if I like it enough to buy it" plan. Are there no plans for a UK printing at all? (or did you check on that?)
    The video was amazing, btw.

  7. Claire (CR) - you tempter you! I look forward to reading your thoughts on the book, and thanks for bringing it to my attention.

    Claire (KAC) - I'm resisting for now! I probably have some of the essays scattered through other books, for the time being...

    Harriet - it's lucky I'm doing Project 24, or I'd probably madly decide to collect the 100 too...

    Claire (PR) - Thank you so much for your lovely words! It was your enthusiasm for it which really prompted me to keep going with the miscellany. I enjoyed your first one the other day (not sure if I commented or not) and I'll watch out for more!

    Susan - lucky! This must be how Americans feel a lot of the time about our second hand bookshops etc...

  8. Spitafields Life? Well it is still interesting even though the weblog is called Spitalfields Life! I love Spitalfields, from my Tailor (Timothy Everest) to wonderful shops such as FairyGothMother where I first began my "relationship" (strictly professional!) with the wonderful photographer and model Morgana. Thank you for pointing me to this in your Miscellany.

    Darkest Cat

  9. Thanks for the editing-requirement-warning!

  10. I added A Truth Universally Acknowledged to my hold list at the library a few days ago and was informed that I am number 63 in line. Normally I'd be rather grr and argh about that, but I'm charmed that so many people want to read it. I like the thought that so many of my neighbors are fellow Austen fans. (Although it wouldn't hurt the library to order an extra copy either!)

  11. Apparently a version is being released in the UK on 3rd June - though with a less-nice cover, in my opinion...


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