Reading in bed or bath…

Simon at Stuck In A Book has asked, “can you post a picture which sums up your reading taste, or a section of it? I’m looking for a picture which doesn’t include a book in it, or a character from an adaptation, or anything like that.”

I thought of this picture, which portrays various aspects of my reading taste: I like books about introverted characters and about the interiors of thought and emotion. I also like delicate, sensitive, poetic, sensual writing. I love detailed descriptions of flowers and gardens, beautiful clothes and rooms. I like books that make me feel calm and long for those I can sink into. To me, this picture very much represents In Search of Lost Time by Marcel Proust: it was written in bed and best read in bed too! And here’s another lilac quote from Proust, the ultimate flowery meditative author:

…hanging there in the foliage, light and supple in their fresh mauve dresses, clusters of young lilacs swaying in the breeze without a thought for the passer-by who was looking up at their leafy mezzanine.

~ The Guermantes Way, Marcel Proust

If you can think of any books that remind you of this picture, please recommend them to me!

Also, I’ve been giving my mom some of my Jane Austens to read, along with a few other 19th century classics I thought she might like (her favourite books include Anne of Green Gables, Lord of the Rings, the Bible and christian novels) and the other day on the phone she told me…. she’d read Middlemarch! She stayed up three nights in a row until 4 a.m. to finish it!! This is wonderful and we proceeded to talk about how great it is, the broad scope of George Eliot, a bit about her life and philosophy, I never expected to have a conversation like this with my mother (she’s the one who reads the least in our family, or at least used to). She said she thought Middlemarch was better than Jane Austen, ahh music, music to the ears. 😉 (I don’t know that I agree, they’re both good in different ways, but simply the fact that we can discuss more than one author I like!) I told her, scanning my bookshelves as we talked for more she might like, that clearly the next step was for her to read War & Peace and after I explained Tolstoy’s search to be a better person and so forth, she said, yes, I do like morals and conflict in a book, I’ll try it! Awwwwww.

I also got my husband to read my favourite Edgar Allan Poe story, ‘The Masque of the Red Death’, yesterday (when we first started dating, I wanted him to read it immediately but he wanted to start at the beginning of the book of Poe stories I gave him. Needless to say, ‘The Balloon-Hoax’ didn’t keep his attention long enough to get further into the book!)

And another reading delight — enjoying a bit of Agatha Christie in the bath yesterday. I’ve found reading classic mysteries in the tub (usually they’re short enough to finish in one long soak) to be very relaxing and exciting, at the same time. Murder at the Vicarage is the first Miss Marple novel and I enjoyed it so much I think I’ll start reading more of them again.

I’ve got a few books sitting around unreviewed and I’m having difficulty finding the motivation to write about them (one being The Waves by Virginia Woolf, her writing often provokes such personal responses in me that I find it difficult to share them. Another is a negative review that I’m dreading, justifying why I didn’t like it.)

I’ve also been debating what my ‘reading theme’ for the month of June will be. Usually my reading is fairly random, but partly because of all the reading challenges I’ve signed up for now, I thought it could be fun to have a theme for my reading each month. For June I’ve debated things like classic love stories or all French novels and generally feel all around unsure of what book I want to be sucked into next. Do I want to reread more Proust? Or join in with Jane in June? Any suggestions?

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24 thoughts on “Reading in bed or bath…

  1. Simon T says:

    Lovely photo and lovely explanation behind it!

    I must confess the one time I tried Middlemarch, I gave up after 100 pages… (!) but I will try again one day…

  2. bookssnob says:

    When I finally get a home of my own, that is the kind of bed I want!
    That’s so lovely about your mum. I wish mine would read the books I love and discuss them with me. She used to read a fair bit but as she gets older she seems to get even busier! All she has time to read these days are home magazines to give her inspiration for the massive renovation she’s doing on her house!
    Me and my sister are planning on doing a joint book read at some point but she has a baby and a toddler and never enough time in her day so I doubt it will happen any time soon. I wish I had more readers in my family, but at least I have my blog!

    • Carolyn says:

      My mom and I talked years ago of having a little mother/daughter book club for ourselves but nothing came of it then. It’s only been recently that I suddenly had the bright idea to give her some Austen novels as gifts and she’s certainly gone through them pretty quickly. (I think part of her quick Middlemarch read was due to recent knee problems she’s had that keep her from too much busyness) It’s a thrill to share that with someone close, but as you say, the internet is also an amazing way to connect with fellow readers all over the place. 🙂

  3. Shannon says:

    I love the way you talk about books! If I wasn’t already a book lover you’d have inspired me to be one!

    I had to read Swann’s Way for a course at uni – I don’t remember much of it except that it was a slog. It was the only book I read for that course ’cause it was on critical theory and we had to choose either Proust or Thomas Mann. Sometimes I’m curious about whether I’d appreciate Proust more now, but I still find it very hard to follow long sentences – I tend to forget how it started!

    I also really really disliked Mrs Dalloway, which I also had to read at uni – is that a book you love? I would actually love to read your review of The Waves, which I’ve never read.

    I love the idea of reading Agatha Christie in the bath! I never thought of that before.

    • Carolyn says:

      Thank you! 😀 I wish I could have taken a course in university about Proust… there’s so much going on in there I could study it for a long time. I don’t think Proust is for everyone (I’m a bit obsessed with remembering the past myself so that helped) and certainly I did find some parts very long and boring and drawn out, but other parts were so gorgeous and thoughtful that I’m so glad I took the time to read it.

      That’s too bad about Mrs. Dalloway, why did you dislike it? I like To the Lighthouse best by Woolf I think, The Waves began well but I found myself slogging by the end.

      • Shannon says:

        Part of the problem was that I HAD to read it – that never helps – and I didn’t have much time to read it. It’s such a short book, but so boring! I couldn’t concentrate on it at all.

        To be fair, I didn’t give it its due. I should re-read it. I might be pleasantly surprised. I’ve had Orlando on my shelf for years and years – I absolutely love the film – but Mrs D put me off reading it! I want to – need to – have a good Woolf experience!

  4. Nymeth says:

    That conversation with your mother would make me very excited as well! Not about Middlemarch in particular (yet!), but just the fact that you get to share an author you love. Few things make me happier.

    • Carolyn says:

      Yes. She’s always enjoyed watching Austen movies with me, but whenever I’d put on Jane Eyre, she’d say, why do you like something so melancholy and dark? She still hasn’t read Jane Eyre, but it is a start!

  5. Dark Puss says:

    Where I live (C. London) a bedroom is an unimaginable luxury (at least £100,000 additional cost on a garden flat such as the one I live in). My partner and I haven’t had a bedroom in all the years we have owned property together, that’s now nearly 25!

    You are looking for a June theme, the novels of Colette are my suggestion.

    • Carolyn says:

      Wow! I certainly don’t have a fancy bed like that (we’ve got an old one my husband’s had for years), but on the other hand, I’d love to live in London too.

      I thought of Colette, but I think I might go with something more familiar like the Victorians for now. 🙂

  6. Nicola says:

    The Jane Austen v George Eliot debate is interesting. I’m reading The Mill on the Floss right now and the conversation between the aunts is very Austen-like. I wonder whether Eliot was influenced by Austen. Much as I adore Eliot, though, for me it’s always Austen!

    • Carolyn says:

      I’d never really thought of it until my mom mentioned it. I’ve often compared Charlotte Bronte to Jane Austen, when I first read Jane Eyre, I related to it more than to any of the Austens, but I haven’t returned to it as often as I return to Austen. I am wanting to read more Eliot this year though. (interestingly, Proust was influenced by her!)

  7. Christina says:

    The picture and your description of the type of books you like reminded me of E. M. Forster’s A Room with a View. It’s one of my favorite books, so I would definitely recommend it if you haven’t read it!

    • Carolyn says:

      I love to read in bed under the covers, no matter what time of day. It’s more comforting and cozy that way.

      It was, I’ve learned so much about so many subtly different kinds of reading tastes!

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