Saturday, July 24, 2010

What I am reading, and why, - and when for heaven's sake!!

I keep hearing about those lazy, hazy days of summer, - the kind that finds you whiling away the time under a shady tree, listening to the cicadas with a cool drink in your hand and your finger holding the place in your book where you stopped reading and closed your eyes for just a wee little nap.

I suspect in this valley they might be mythical times, -  farmers are not inclined to lazy days.  But hope springs eternal, and just in case I might turn a corner and run into one of these lazy, hazy days of summer and be caught unprepared I make sure there is a good supply of Orange Brandy and Ginger-ale in the cupboard and read the lists of summer reading materials recommended by authors and reviewers and journalists and all sorts of people who have time to sit out under the acacia tree and listen to the crickets sing.

This results in trips to the library and sideways glances from Charles as I tote home treasures that may or may not get read.  He knows how many times he has come to bed to find my eyes closed, the book fallen upon my chest, my glasses still hooked around my ears and probably only a page or two read before sleep slips up on me.

Nevertheless!!!  I have just finished The Infinities by John Banville (winner of the Man Booker Prize).  It is a tale told by the god Hermes, concerning the relationships of the inhabitants of  Mount Olympus amongst themselves and between the gods and mortals; in particular the rather disfunctional Godley family.  Lovely prose and lots of humour, - I enjoyed it immensely in the many snatches it took me to read it.

I now have beside my bed two wonderful books written by Alexander McCall Smith - one a book of short stories written in the 1990's  (Heavenly Dates), and the other the first book in his new series, Corduroy Mansions.

I read McCall Smith because of his gentle and civilized way of writing, his great imaginative stories and his tender and compassionate humour.

For different reasons I am reading Lynne Olson's 'Citizens of London' in which she 'tells the story of the Americans who did the New World credit by giving their all to help Churchill's Britain hold on against Hitler".
I have picked up the book and read pages while passing through to do something else, and what I have read intrigues me and casts a different light to the one I had always thought shone on British-American relations, - but then I am inclined to be a bit naive.

Which probably explains why I am reading the last book that goes to bed with me, - 'Surprised by Hope, by  N.T. Wright, Bishop of Durham.  Having read Marcus Borg's account of the modern politicalization of Religion I was curious to discover the Anglican slant on this subject.  The Bishop has written a book in collaboration with Borg, 'The Meaning of Jesus' and I am wondering if Jesus is taking on a new role of Social Activist, whilst his divinity is abandoned.  It concerns me that Christianity, ( from which the moral structure of our society has risen) grows weaker, while the Muslim faith grows ever stronger in the western countries.

Will the book have any answers to the 'By Chance or By Design' debate?  I rather doubt it.

And that is my summer reading list.  A little heavy for the time I have to devote to it.  If any of you happen upon a hazy, lazy day - please send it my way!!!


Strawberry Jam Anne said...

I found this so interesting Hildred and will definitely look for "The Infinities". I also enjoy Alexander McCall Smith's books and I'm usually attracted by his intriguing titles. Like you though I don't often find the time to sit and laze in the summer warmth and so I too am a bedtime reader. Next week I am going to stay with my daughter for a few days so I may take a book or two with me. A x

Barb said...

I am a reader, Hildred, but have no extra lazy (or hazy) days to share with you! Your choices do seem to require attention- I would fall asleep, too!

Sallie (FullTime-Life) said...

You are a brilliant and brave reader! I do have those kind of days sometimes, but Alexander McCall Smith is the only one of your authors I have read. I love the way you describe his way of writing -- gentle and civilized -- I always feel so full of joy when I finish one of his books.

I am trying to read a little more intelligently (at least when we're near a library). On the road, as we are now, it is kind of catch-as-catch=can.

Kcalpesh said...


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