Random thoughts for a Friday

Is it Friday? I have to double-check because I’ve completely lost track of the days lately. My teaching schedule this semester is Monday-Wednesday (and then Thursday-Sunday are for grading and teaching my online class), but this week my classes on Tuesday and Wednesday got canceled because of bad weather. Last week my Wednesday classes were canceled. So I’m in the middle of the semester now, with a remarkable amount of time on my hands. Things will change next week — unless we get more snow days, of course — but for now I’m enjoying my peace and quiet.

I’m enjoying it except for the fact that I can’t ride my bike, or I choose not to ride in the only way that feels safe right now: indoors. I hate riding indoors. Sadly, all the snow and ice we’ve gotten lately has utterly destroyed the roads for riding; even now when we have some sun to dry the roads out, I don’t feel comfortable riding because the snow drifts have encroached on the roads so much they are extremely narrow, after already being quite narrow to begin with. So I’ve gone almost two weeks now without getting on my bike, which is not good at all, since bike races begin in March. But … whatever. I don’t take the races all that seriously, and I’ll train again when I can. I have the whole year ahead of me in which to ride some crazy miles, and I’ll get back to it when I can.

In the meantime, I’m enjoying the chance to be a little lazy and to do more reading (and shoveling — my arms ache from the effort of trying to get ice off the driveway yesterday). I have two books I hope to write about soon, Janet Malcolm’s book about Gertrude Stein and Alice Toklas, Two Lives, and Kevin Brockmeier’s new novel The Illumination. I’ve also continued with my reread of the Anne of Green Gables series, and I’m enjoying Anne’s House of Dreams very much. I also recently started a collection of nature essays by Edward Hoagland, Sex and the River Styx, and soon I’ll begin Carlos Fuentes’s new novel Destiny and Desire. I’m not fond of that overly dramatic title, but we’ll see about the book itself.

And now I’m thinking about Litlove’s question about which books I would most like to reread. I think I’d put the following on my list:

  • All of Austen’s novels. These are ones I’ve reread already, except for Northanger Abbey, so perhaps that one should be next. I’ve had a hankering lately to read Persuasion, though.
  • George Eliot’s novels, especially Middlemarch and Daniel Deronda. Actually, those are two I’ve already reread, so I should start with some others, perhaps The Mill on the Floss. I suppose when it comes to rereading, I’m most drawn to long Victorian novels. Also,
  • Tolstoy and Dostoevsky, especially Anna Karenina (I used to do a lot more rereading than I do now — I’ve read this one twice) and Crime and Punishment.
  • Obviously the Anne of Green Gables books and also as far as YA books go, Phillip Pullman and the Little House books. Also Betsy/Tacy books.
  • For something more contemporary, Infinite Jest. I don’t know that I’ll do it soon, but I’ve been hankering to reread it. I’ve loaned my copy out to a friend, so I won’t be able to read it for a while, but perhaps this summer? I’d happily reread Wallace’s essays as well.
  • Virginia Woolf. I’m slowly reading and rereading my way through her books.
  • Other Victorian novels: The Moonstone, any of Thomas Hardy’s books, anything by the Brontes.
  • I’ve been thinking about rereading Nicholson Baker’s book U&I. I read it quite a long time ago and remember being amazed by it, and I want that experience again.
  • I’ve hardly read any Dorothy Sayers at all, but I’d happily reread what I’ve read, and I plan to read more.
  • Nabokov. I’ve read Lolita and Pale Fire, and will happily reread both. In fact, I’ve read Pale Fire twice already.
  • I could happily reread anything by E.M. Forster, and I’ve read quite a lot of his books by now.

I’m sure there are others, but that’s what comes to mind for now. I actually do more rereading than I thought, even these days when I’m doing less than I used to. With my new ereader and all those free classics, I might do even more.


Filed under Books, Cycling, Life

18 responses to “Random thoughts for a Friday

  1. I just re-read (well, re-listened) to The Moonstone, and it was highly, highly enjoyable. I’d forgotten how delightful Collins’s characterization is, and Gabriel Betteridge in particular is just so charming. I’m hoping to read and re-read Nabokov along with Bibliographing Nicole, as well!


  2. I feel that way about running–it’s been too snowy for a while, or too cold, and I don’t run indoors. But I can still ice skate and swim. I just finished reading Molly Fox’s Birthday, prodded by your review (and reminded of Litlove’s). I’ll write about it next week.


  3. Oh my! There’s so much on your rereading list that would be on mine, it’s almost scary. What’s even scarier? Those that aren’t on the rereading list are in the TBR tome (All of Anne of Green Gables — and her Emily books, too, of course — Betsy/Tacy, and even, believe it or not, Infinite Jest). Of course, as I typed those first and that last title, my thought was, “Maybe that’s all DORR’S influence?” :-)! When I finally get around to reading Infinite Jest, I will immediately be taken back to hiking in Acadia National Park and listening to you talk about it.


  4. Ah, nicole’s Nabokov chronologue is F U N. The level of writing in the early books is extraordinary. The next one up, The Defense, is the first one that might be Not So Minor.

    bibliographing’s reread of the Laura Ingalls Wilder books has also been productive.

    I’ve never read any Anne of Green Gables books. How do you think a grown up who compares everything to Flaubert and finds traces of St. Augustine in Little House in the Big Woods would find them?


  5. I tend to re-read when I’m not well and need the company of old friends. That does mean, though, that I rarely re-read anything of any real substance because I don’t have the brain power at the time to do so. I like the idea of drawing up a list and having it at my side for times when there just doesn’t seem to be anything else that takes my fancy. I’ll indulge myself over the weekend if there’s time.


  6. I am making a note of all your rereading favourites! I have read very little Victorian fiction, but suddenly I have this real taste for it. And I’m sorry the weather is too bad for you to get out for much cycling practice. I have every faith that you will slay ’em when the spring races come!


  7. Lots of avid readers do exactly what you do: re-read long old Victorian novels. Why? Because they are well written, they are entertaining, informative, and with carefully worked plots. Funny, but I’ve read every book you mention and re-read them all.
    Writers today could learn much more from the writers of the past, no offense to contemporary writers, of course, for once in a while a fine writer like Wallace comes along.


  8. I reread less and less as I get older. There are some exception–I do reread nonfiction more often than fiction, but like Annie mentioned, I like rereading fiction when I need the company of old friends. The Anne books certainly fall in that category!


  9. Emily — I LOVE Gabriel Betteridge! I thought Miss Clack was very funny as well. I love Collins’s sense of humor. I look forward to the results of your Nabokov reading!

    Lilian — I look forward to your thoughts on Molly Fox’s Birthday. I’ve been talking about the technical aspects of that book a lot with a writer friend; that one is worth a reread to see how she manages the transitions.

    Emily B. — it’s one of my goals in life to get as many people as possible to read Infinite Jest, so I’m very glad it’s in your TBR tome 🙂 I’ve never read the Emily books, and I don’t quite know why. That’s on my list, although sadly, those don’t seem to be available in digital versions. What a lovely memory of hiking with you in Acadia!

    Amateur Reader — if I had all the time in the world, I most definitely would have read along with Nicole on both projects. I have no idea how such a grown up would respond to the Anne books. The books are very literary, with allusions and references all over the place. They are more sentimental than the Little House books, though, and I don’t know how well that would go over.

    Annie — book lists are so much fun, and they are great to have on hand for when you need them. I like the idea of rereading comforting things when not feeling well. If you ever write up a list and don’t mind sharing it, I’d love to see what’s on it!

    Litlove — it’s so much fun that you’re getting into Victorian lit right now! I have this feeling you’ll inspire others to follow along with you. Thanks for your comment about cycling. The good part about not being able to ride is that I have more time to read!

    Marciano — there is something magical about Victorian novels, I agree! It’s fun that our reading lists coincide so closely.

    Jenclair — that’s interesting about rereading less as the years pass. I wonder if other people experience the same thing? My rereading less has to do with blogging, I’m sure, and being exposed to new books so much. I wonder if that will ever change.


  10. I had such a bizarre and stressful week I forgot it was Friday too. I actually woke up Saturday morning thinking I was late getting my kid on the bus.

    I like your rereading goals – but, beware, I reread Anne of Green Gables last summer and was horrified by how mush I disliked the last half of the book! I feel like none of my grade-school favorites, with the exception of John Bellairs and Harriet the Spy, are still as brilliant as they used to be.


  11. Oh, I’m pro-sentiment.

    Ella – do look at bibliographing’s Widler posts. Those books are more brilliant, by far. Wilder’s control over the structure of her stories, her deft shifts in imagery from book to book, any number of other themes and touches, big and small, are first-rate, must be beyond the conscious understanding of almost any child reader.

    Why was the last half of Anne of Green Gables so bad? The shift in the reputation of that novel has been so interesting. There is now, for example, a Norton Critical Edition.


  12. I often find that I enjoy a book the second time more than the first, and I have been promising myself a reread of both AofGG series and the Little House books for years now. Austen definitely holds up under multiple rereadings, as does Middlemarch. I’m reading Mill on the Floss, for the first time, this spring. Enjoy your season of redux!


  13. I’m not very good with re-reads but there are a couple of classics I wouldn’t mind re-reading now that as opposed to when I read them while in high school. I get the feeling I might enjoy them a lot more!

    Really looking forward to your thoughts on the Carlos Fuentes book. I haven’t read that one but have read a couple of his other books. Some have left me totally lost while others I’ve really liked. Never know what to expect from him.


  14. I really enjoy rereading Crime and Punishment. That’s one I tend to revisit every few years. I just love it.


  15. Nice list of rereads. To it I’d add Gabriel Josipovici who I forgot all about when Litlove first posted her question. How could I forget him? Hopefully spring will be here soon!


  16. There are lots of books on your list that I’d like to reread–definitely Anna Karenina–I still have mixed feelings about it, and Jane Austen and George Eliot and Wilkie Collins! I don’t reread as often as I’d like to, but I am always amazed at how much detail I lose so quickly–rereading often feels like reading for the first time if I’ve waited long enough! Hope things warm up–I’m tired of snow and ice, too!


  17. Ella — well, I can’t claim this list as my rereading goals, just books I think of when I think about rereading. I will reread some of them, though, I’m sure. I’ve been enjoying the Anne books, although not as much as I did when I was younger. What bothers me is that Anne seems so very perfect and capable of transforming people’s lives like magic. Yes, she suffers and makes mistakes, but too often she’s like a miracle-worker. But I’m reading the series compulsively, anyway.

    AR — I didn’t know there’s a Norton Critical Edition coming out! Interesting. Nicole has definitely gotten me interested in rereading the Wilder books.

    Jane — there’s something comforting about rereading, and also intellectually stimulating, because you already know so much about the book and can now look deeper. It can be very satisfying.

    Iliana — I’m not sure what to think of the Fuentes book so far. It’s interesting in parts, dull in parts, a little confusing, a little fantastical — it’s a lot of things! I’ll have to get my thoughts together at some point, but I’m still only maybe 1/3 of the way through.

    Rebecca — I read Crime and Punishment many years ago and really loved it. It’s definitely due for a reread, if only to see if my reaction will be the same!

    Stefanie — oh, yes, Josipovici is a good one for rereading. The good news is that it’s raining here when it could be snowing. I guess that’s good news??

    Danielle — yes, rereading often does feel like a new read, especially if it’s been a while. Often I retain only the vaguest sense of what I read, so a lot of the details are absolutely new. Oh, well, it’s not such a bad thing I suppose — so many books stay fresh!


  18. bookgazing

    E M Forster is a beautiful writer. I think I’ve read 4 of his novels and I’d love to go back and reread them. I’m amazed that you’ve read Anna Karenina twice, although it is very readable and lovely, it just sounds like such a feat to have read it twice, like climbing lit-Everest or something 🙂


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s