Notes on reading

  • I just finished the biography of Jane Austen I’ve been working on for a while, and now I see another biography I need to read: Frances Wilson’s The Ballad of Dorothy Wordsworth. Given my mild obsession with that most intriguing writer, I think this is a book I need to read.
  • And here’s another biography I’ll need to read: Brad Gooch’s Flannery: A Life of Flannery O’Connor. This is, apparently, the first major biography of O’Connor.  I just finished teaching a couple of her stories last week, and teaching her work always confirms my feeling that she is a fascinating, wonderful, and wonderfully bizarre writer.  I studied her a bit in college and that was fine, but I’m beginning to wonder whether the O’Connor I knew then is the O’Connor I would encounter now if I undertook to read a big chunk of her work all at once.  She would be a good candidate for an author read-through, as it wouldn’t take too terribly long, and I could read a biography at the same time. That would make a great reading project.
  • I learned today what’s up next for my mystery book group: Chester Himes’s The Real Cool Killers. The book is from 1959, and is a part of a series of Harlem detective novels.  I’m not familiar with Himes at all, so I’m excited to have another new author to discover.
  • Musings from the Sofa kindly lent me a copy of Muriel Barbery’s The Elegance of the Hedgehog, which I’m looking forward to beginning.  We’ll see if the book matches all the hype.
  • I should have the chance to begin the Barbery book soon, as at the moment I’m in the middle of only two books — quite a small number compared with my usual five or so.  I finished Wallace Stevens’s first volume of poetry Harmonium yesterday, which leaves me with only (“only”) my Montaigne collection and The Recognitions.  I’ve neglected both over the last couple weeks, however, and am looking forward to picking them up again soon.
  • I’ve ordered a copy of Stefan Zweig’s The Post-Office Girl to read for the Slaves of Golconda discussion at the end of March.  Zweig, I’m just now learning, was an early-20C Austrian novelist and short-story writer; he wrote this particular novel near the end of his life in the 1930s as he was driven into exile by the Nazis.  It was published only after his death and was just translated into English in 2008.
  • I’m reading just as much as ever, probably, but alas, but the reading is not always for fun: I’m in the midst of paper-grading, and let me tell you, student papers are not as much fun to read as mystery novels.  If only they were …


Filed under Books, Fiction, Nonfiction, Reading

12 responses to “Notes on reading

  1. I too have a set of papers to comment on this weekend, after having raced through another set this week already…

    The Wilson Dorothy Wordsworth book sounds excellent, doesn’t it?!?

    I love Chester Himes – his autobiography is fascinating, too, I feel sure you would find it worth your while…


  2. I’ve heard of Chester Himes, but I’m afraid I’ve never read any of his books or really know much about him. I look forward to learning something through you–I may have to check him out as well! Your group really does read a variety of authors! I saw a short review for that Flannery O’Connor biography in my library’s news magazine–it does look good. Now there’s an author I really should have read by now, but haven’t. Good luck getting your papers graded so you can read something fun.


  3. adevotedreader

    It will be interesting to hear if The Elegance of the Hedgehog is a good novel that deserves the hype.

    I’m looking forward to reading TPOG for Slave, and was happy to see it reviewed by John Banville in The Guardian today (


  4. I’ve never heard of Himes, and look forward to reading your review after the mystery book group. Hope you are able to get those papers done soon!


  5. I’ve been thinking about biographies lately too. Brad Gooch’s Flannery O’Connor is already on my TBR list and now I’m going to add that Dorothy Wordsworth one as well.

    My sympathies on the paper-grading!


  6. I’d like to read the Flannery O’Connor biography. And I have The Elegance of the Hedgehog to read in French, so I should hook it off the shelf and keep up with you. You have my every sympathy for the papers. Plan rewards.


  7. Jenny — very glad to hear you like Chester Himes and that his autobiography is good. Hope your grading has gone fast!

    Danielle — I did get my papers graded, but there’s always another stack coming in, alas. But I always make time to read … I’ll definitely report on Himes when I get there. And I really love O’Connor! Her short stories are great.

    devotedreader — very glad you are reading the Zweig book with us — I’m looking forward to the discussion! And thanks for the link.

    Debby — well that stack of papers is finished, but I won’t really be finished with papers until the day I die … or retire … but that’s okay, I like my job! I’m looking forward to reading Himes and will let you know what I think!

    Kate — I saw your biography post; the one you mentioned about Robert Burns looks really good. I hope you enjoy the O’Connor one!

    Litlove — how fun to read the Hedgehog book in French! Truth is, I haven’t started it yet, but I might this evening …


  8. I really want to read The Elegance of the Hedgehog… I just love that title. So funky.

    And, I got my Post-Office Girl book the other day. Yay. I had such a hard time finding that at any local bookstore that I finally gave up and ordered it on Amazon. I’m looking forward to it.


  9. I saw the review of the Flannery biography in the NY TimesBook Review over the weekend. It sounds fantastic and I immediately put it on my TBR list. I am curious about the Dorothy Wordsworth biography. Please read it soon and let us know what you think 🙂


  10. The Flannery O’Connor bio looks really great–and it’s on my list, too. I’d love to hear about the Dorothy Wordsworth biography, too. The Elegance of the Hedgehog has been on my radar screen, too. Someone in my book group suggested it, so it may be our next read. If you read it, I’d be interested to hear what you think!


  11. I want to read The Elegance of the Hedgehog too; I’ll have to find a copy and I’ll look forward to hearing what you have to say about it.

    And I can’t wait to see what you think of The Post Office Girl. I loved it! I think it was the best book I’ve read this year so far.


  12. Iliana — My copy of the Zweig book arrived today — I ordered it from the Book Depository. It looks good! So far I’m enjoying the Hedgehog book a lot — it lives up to the quirkiness of its title!

    Stefanie — I’ll do my best 🙂 But knowing me, I’ll read it when I’m 50 … we’ll see if I’m still blogging at that point!

    Gentle Reader — so far so good with the Hedgehog book, and I suspect it would make a good book group read. There would certainly be a lot to discuss. I’ll certainly let you know how it went when I’m finished!

    Melanie — I’m very glad to hear you liked the Zweig book so much! I’m looking forward to reading and discussing it at the end of the month — I hope you will take part in our discussions!


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