Thursday, July 05, 2007

Reading Update

Lately I've been a lazy blogger even by my own low standards, so let's get things back in motion, on track, with the program, etc. etc. with a quick reading update.

First the myopic:

Finished over the weekend: Annie Dillard's The Maytrees and Jonis Agee's The River Wife. I intend to write a review of the Agee in a day or two as well as post some more Dillard excerpts.

I expect to finish Al Gore's The Assault on Reason over the weekend if not before. I'm reading it more quickly now that I've tapped down the urge to underline everything he says.

I'm two essays into Anne Fadiman's At Large and At Small and all set to begin reading Charles Lamb's essays thanks to Fadiman's "monumental crush" on Lamb. Fortunately, the library appears to have all of Lamb downstairs in compact shelving (or up in rare books) so that I don't have to agonize over how I can get my hands on his out-of-print work.

I started James MacGregor Burns and Susan Dunn's The Three Roosevelts last night and expect to enjoy it greatly. There is a wonderful photo of Lincoln's funeral procession as it goes past TR's grandfather's brownstone, with seven-year-old Teddie and his little brother Elliot leaning out the window to watch.

I'm only one chapter in Rebecca West's The Thinking Reed. Her main character's from St. Louis and one of her love interests is from Virginia, although the book's set in France. Should be interesting.

And I'm back to plugging away in Tristram Shandy. Dr. Slop has been sent for since Tristram's mom is in labor. Uncle Toby just used a four asterick word that revealed his ignorance of female anatomy.

And now for the presbyopic update since we're midway through the year:

I claimed late last December that I was going to qualify my "Read at Whim!" mantra with a "From the Books I Already Own" tag. I'm doing fairly well in that area--out of the 38 books I've completed this far, 31 have been books I own--if you don't take into consideration that seven of those were newly purchased.

I've completed only four out of the thirteen classics that I said I'd like to read this year, have one in progress (Tristram Shandy), and one lined up to read before the summer's over. I have read some classics that weren't on the list of thirteen, though, so I'm feeling pretty charitable toward myself in the classics department. Maybe I'll get through several more by the end of the year; who knows. Although I am feeling guilty about ignoring The Guermantes Way; Dorothy is almost finished with all of In Search of Lost Time. As soon as I finish Tristram Shandy. . .

I'm still reading Rebecca West, but more slowly than I'd thought I'd be. I'd planned to read some Christina Stead and another Patrick O'Brian, and all I've done is buy more books by the two.

I intended to "touch base with some Southern lit," and in that area I'm home free: six novels and short story collections read, Flannery O'Connor's letters and William Faulkner's stories in progress.


  1. Just out of curiosity, could you share some of the quotes you underlined in Al Gore's book?
    Lee (from the WTM board)
    PS I saw an Anne McCaffrey book in your sidebar -- I loved her as writer when I was a teen!

  2. Well, I haven't actually underlined a single one since it's a library book. . . but there are certainly many I'd like to. I'll post a few before I return it, okay?

    I didn't discover McCaffrey until after I'd graduated college. I read a lot of her in the 80s. . .

  3. Anonymous2:09 PM

    So does the desire to underline mean you're enjoying Gore's book. I thought to book seemed interesting but I have an aversion to buying books by politicians. I have no idea why.

    And I can't wait to hear your thought s on At Large and At Small. I bought it a while back but haven't gotten around to reading it yet.

  4. Yes, it does--and I don't do well with political books normally. I ditched one months back because the writer described an adult-sized skull as being like a bocce ball (a preemie sized skull comparison I could have tolerated) and had a bad habit of providing thoughts (that he couldn't have been privvy to) as direct quotes.

  5. Impressive reading! It has been a while since I read Tristam Shandy, but I recall having liked it once I got through it. Good luck with the rest of the list.

  6. I'm eager to hear what you think of The River Wife and of The Assault of Reason.

    I love Lamb's essays. One of my favorites is "New Year's Eve" in which he takes stock of his life and says, "I am in love with this green earth; the face of town and country; the unspeakable rural solitudes, and the sweet security of streets. I would set up my tabernacle here."

  7. I'd love to read the Fadiman book -- and I've always wanted to read more Lamb too (I've read only a couple essays).

  8. Anonymous12:07 AM

    Oh, I so want to get my hands on the Fadiman book, since I read an excerpt over on NPR. Is it a worthy followup to Ex Libris?

  9. Anonymous10:43 AM

    I'm reading Tristram Shandy for a class right now - actually, the book was my choice. If you ever want to chat about it, let me know. You can email me at

  10. Anonymous12:39 PM

    Every now and then I flirt with the idea of reading Lamb's essays. But now that you are going to do it I can let that go and move on to someone else. Please be sure to give fully detailed reports! ;)

  11. "Tristram Shandy" is one I also promised myself I would read in 2007, since my academic work focuses on meta-literature, but I have yet to start it. Sigh. I really must approach it come the fall. Luckily, it is on my "Unread Authors Challenge" list.


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