Friday 10 December 2010

Other People Reading

First things first - happy birthday to Our Vicar, and get well soon - he's currently struck down with flu.

Second things second - a while ago I asked on Facebook for non-blogging friends to send me a paragraph or two about what they were reading. And then, of course, promptly forgot about it, which was very silly of me because I had some really great messages.

So, over to them! I simply asked 'What are you reading? Tell me about it...'

The Golden Gate by Vikram Seth
Debs Smithies

Bought on impulse because it looked so beautiful on the Waterstone's shelf - one of those Faber poetry paperbacks in gorgeous sunny yellow. And it was intriguing. A whole novel in verse? Poetry not usually my bag, I'm not nearly clever enough. But this I LOVE. It totally works. You almost forget it's in verse, the metre just carries you along, and the story and the characters - totally absorbing. I'm 50 pages from the end and cross that I have to work instead of reading it! Can't recommend highly enough.

Anne of Avonlea by L M Montgomery
Meg Zeyfert

I'm a complete children's fiction junkie and I loved Anne of Green Gables. I'm not particularly enjoying this book though, the original Anne book is so fresh and vibrant, fast paced and joyful and this sequel just seems to be plodding along trying to emulate that feel. I don't really care what happens next, but I won't walk away as, a bit like Anne herself, I'm always hopeful things will improve. I'll be disappointed if it doesn't get anywhere as I got this in a charity shop bundle with three further sequels and I was hoping they would cover my fiction reading for the next month or so. All the same, I have a terrible feeling that this is going to be a case like Little Women where the author should really have been content with one gem of a novel.

Snark by David Denby
Pippa Warr

Denby defines 'snark' as personal, low, teasing, rug-pulling, finger-pointing, snide, obvious and knowing abuse. I picked it up out of curiosity as snark is something I often encounter online and something which I try to avoid contributing to or indulging in too heavily - one of the reasons I used to give up celebrity gossip for Lent.

So far I've found it engaging and interesting but I'm not sure how much of that is because I share a lot of Denby's concerns. I also have a sneaking suspicion that part of the appeal is because it allows the author to reproduce (and me to re-read) particularly snarky examples under the guise of criticism.

The strength of the book lies in making explicit some of the little implicit digs - the whispered racism and covert misogyny. It encourages the reader to think about what they are reading or writing and - perhaps - to strive for something better.


  1. Many happy returns to OV. Did ya'll buy OVW a nurses uniform? Sounds like she is running a clinic over there between the two of you. :) So sorry to hear that your dad is sick - may you ALL be healthy for the holidays!

  2. I recently reread the Anne sequels & Avonlea is weaker than Green Gables but I do hope that Meg reads on as Anne of the Island is my favourite of the series.

    Many happy returns & get well wishes to OVW!

  3. As regards Anne of Avonlea, please tell your friend to keep on reading the sequels. Some of the series are much better than others. Anne of Avonlea is definitely not the best sequel. Anne of the Island and Anne's House of Dreams are much better. Also, for those who enjoy World War I literature, Rilla of Ingleside is a good read.

  4. Finally came to dig out this entry, and yes, Anne did pull through in the end. I made it through Avonlea and triumphed into Anne of the Island, Anne of Windy Willows and Anne of Ingleside. I even had to buy Anne's House of Dreams to plug the gap.

    I was so glad Montgomery found her Anne mojo again. I was actually really impressed with the way she let Anne grow up and meld real world experiences with her famous dreaminess. There's some saminess through the novels, but they're a real find.

    Simon, you are going to read Anne of Green Gables this year. Yes.


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