Strolling on a Sunday

Hopefully this will be a short stroll today, but we’ll see what happens.

For starters, despite my complaints about Anna Karenina in my last post, after I wrote my review of it, I began rethinking it and also Tolstoy’s view of spirituality in the final chapters. Despite my complaints about how Tolstoy portrays women (and how he treated his own wife at times, see a bit of Sophie Tolstoy’s diary quoted by Danielle at A Work in Progress here), I must admit that I began to contemplate exploring my own spirituality again.

Those who have been following my come-and-go attempts at book blogging for the last few years may know that I grew up in a very strict charismatic (you’d think that was an oxymoron, but no) Christian home, where I felt pressure and guilt all the time to be the perfect little christian girl and also experienced physical and emotional abuse from my mother for not being perfect enough. Eventually in university, I ended up in a huge depression and was very close to a suicide attempt because I’d pushed myself way too hard to be that perfect christian girl, without allowing myself any space just to be myself and enjoy life without judging myself all the time. So since then while I’ve been muddling my way through trying to get out of depression, I became very bitter towards christianity.

And oddly, Tolstoy’s simplified approach to Christianity (he didn’t believe in miracles, thank goodness, since I’m sick of excessively showy displays of faith healing and that sort of thing, which is what I grew up on. He also didn’t like smug religious people who thought they had it all worked out either.) was the first time in a while that I found it appealing. Tolstoy was far from perfect, but he tried very hard to live for something more than himself, to do better than the average aristocrat of his day. I began to consider that the point of Christianity is not about trying to be self-centeredly perfect on your own (Tolstoy’s failures were also about his ego getting in the way too much, I think. Despite his faith, he was terrified of death, of the cessation of his all-important self. Realizing that about him helped me see that in the past I’d also been trying to go about it in the wrong way, to impress God with my goodness), it is about accepting grace and love in the midst of failure.

I don’t intend to become extreme with my faith anymore, since for me, that way leads to depression. I’ve been quietly thinking these things through for about a week now, looking for books to inspire and encourage me on this new path (the first thing I do whenever I have a new interest is head to the library!) and trying to be gentle with myself in the midst of these changes. So I’m happy for an inner spring renewal just as it’s starting to warm up outside and have had some lovely walks this week, full of fresh spring air.

As for what I’ve been reading, Ana’s review (at things mean a lot) of Geek Girls Unite by Leslie Simon intrigued me, so I zipped through it last Sunday afternoon. As she says, it’s more written in a magazine style for teens who are trying to figure out where they fit in geekdom and to be supportive of any sort of geeky (she defines this as being passionate about any specific thing) interests. That said, it’s not without its flaws — for one, I’m a literary geek, but I’ve never longed for my husband to look more like Jonathan Safran Foer! And I far prefer 19th century chunksters to contemporary hipstery writers like Foer or David Eggers, etc etc. Actually, the all-too-brief history she gave of women in writing left me appalled — she completely skipping over THE BRONTES, GEORGE ELIOT, and other amazing women writers of the 19th century that writers today are still only a pale copy of, and jumped straight to the 20th century and the likes of Dorothy Parker (who’s not bad, but she’s no Charlotte, Emily, or Anne!), saying something like, well there wasn’t really much going in with women writers before…. Excuse me??? British women writers of the 19th century were amazing! She does give Jane Austen a consolation prize/mention later on, so that was covered, but honestly. I’d rather read Jane Eyre and Middlemarch over The Bell Jar any day. For one thing, those women made their own happy endings, despite their lack of Sylvia Plath’s more privileged education.

And overall, for a book supposedly about geeks, it had a lot of rather hipstery recommendations going on, especially in the movie, music, and book sections. The point of being geeky is not to become cool, it’s just to like what you like. You like musical theatre or ancient history, great. Be passionate about that and who cares if you like the right kinds of art, like Wes Anderson movies and music by Patti Smith.

I do like this book for reminding me that at times I’ve tried too hard to be cool to impress literary book snobs, etc, and forgot to keep in touch with what I actually like. And at other times, my strict religious approach to life led me to throw out geeky things I really loved. I think that because I denied who I really was at those times, I now have a harder time remembering what it is I really love now. So I’ve now made a list of things that I’ve been passionate about over the years to re-explore some of them and rediscover my passion again and I don’t intend to abandon those interests (and ultimately myself) anymore. I’ve gone back to listening to the christian group Jars of Clay since I used to like them in my teens, but I also see a lot of spirituality and meaning in Harry Potter too. So it’s all a balance.

And I also just finished reading A Jane Austen Education by William Deresiewicz today. Claire’s review (at The Captive Reader) of it last year got me interested and I finally got it out from the library in February. I actually read most of it then and it was what prompted me to go back to Tolstoy in the front place. For starters, I loved it, it’s such an insightful look into what Austen had to say about life and how we can constantly learn something new from the everyday of our regular lives. There were so many good ideas there, about learning to grow in love, instead of fall in love (from Sense & Sensibility) and learning how to grow up and take responsibility for your actions, but also to stay young and open and curious in your approach to life (Northanger Abbey). His focus on what you can learn from Jane Austen helped me to go into Tolstoy with the same approach, with ultimately good results. I could say more, but since most of the book isn’t fresh in my mind anymore and since this has been long enough already, this is going to be it for now!

As to what I’m reading next… after realizing that there don’t seem to be that many christian authors who just write really well (if anyone can think of any, please recommend them! As it is I will probably rely mostly on my 19th century favourites who were also christians in their own varied ways, aka, Austen, Gaskell, Bronte, Tolstoy, the usual suspects. I may also reread the Narnia and Lord of the Rings books the next time I get into fantasy again. There is also Madeleine L’Engle and since I love A Wrinkle in Time and reread it for comfort just late last year, I’m looking forward to reading the rest of her books), I thought I’d do an experiment. I was going to put this off until next year, but I decided that if the Pevear & Volokhonsky translation of War & Peace was on the shelf at my local library when I went there yesterday, then I’d read it this year. And there it was. So obviously I am still more than a little bit into Tolstoy! I also found Gilead by Marilynne Robinson on the shelf and since Rachel recommended that to me a while back, I’m giving it a go too and really enjoying it.

And yet again, another long post/stroll. Oh well, off to enjoy a book and a walk on this beautiful spring day.

Reflections on Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy

So I finally finished Anna Karenina last night, but I’m not quite sure how to review it. There’s so much I could say that it seems overwhelming. First off, despite my previous post, I ended up not liking as much as I did from my first reading of it three and a half years ago. (Side note: the painting below is titled Portrait of Princess Yekaterina Alekseyevna Vasilchikova by Ivan Kramskoy, 1867, Russia. And also note, there may be a few spoilers here, although nothing that doesn’t relate to a basic discussion of the plot.)

The main problem is that although Anna Karenina is billed as a romance and titled for a woman who should be the main character, it is also very much a ‘state of the nation’ novel and I would say much more about Tolstoy’s alter-ego character Levin than Anna herself. The nation under discussion throughout the book is of course Russia in the 1870s (the copious endnotes in the Pevear & Volokhonsky translation helped me to make sense of all the issues being discussed; since I’d originally read it in the Constance Garnett translation without notes, I think I missed a lot of the political meanings in the book the first time), and Levin’s many (increasingly tedious) discussions with other men throughout the book on politics, religion, farming (yes, Russian farming in a book supposedly all about romance! See what I mean — it’s been misleadingly categorized!), art, etc, develop many of Tolstoy’s own ideas about every topic he thinks is worth writing about. Meanwhile, while he does sometimes write perceptively from the point of view three main female characters (the adulterous Anna herself, plus Levin’s pretty, good, and slightly bland wife Kitty, and Kitty’s child-burdened sister Dolly), they do not get nearly as much page time as the men, especially Levin.

I know Levin has his fans (for some reason) and at the beginning of the book, I too could empathize with him. He takes delight in working on his country estates with the peasants (called muzhiks, who were formerly serfs until they were freed in 1861, just ten years or so before the action of the story) and it was refreshing to read about his love of nature and working in the country. I grew up on a farm, so I could appreciate that. But during one of several hunting scenes, I began to get impatient. The hunting scene had no real important purpose in the story, it was probably simply there because Tolstoy himself enjoyed hunting (despite also being a vegetarian and against violence at some point in his life…). And that is the problem with the character of Levin: obviously Tolstoy thinks he’s endlessly fascinating, because he gets to share all his (Tolstoy’s) own endlessly fascinating thoughts about everything! But I’m not interested, especially since Levin is often awkward in society and never seems to catch on to what everyone else is talking about, but spends most of his time criticizing them. Levin often seems child-like, he’s willing to admit he doesn’t get things instead of just pretending to be as clever as everyone else, and I don’t have that kind of social courage to act like that myself, so perhaps all of his constant social embarrassments just made me wish he would at least pretend a little more to be normal and get along.

Levin seems to be an excessively didactic character, there only to act as a mouthpiece for all of Tolstoy’s views about every issue in Russia at the time. I wish Tolstoy could have separated out all of those long, boring male-dominated conversations about politics and ‘big issues’ out of the novel, put them in some kind of ranting pamphlet and left the actual story alone for readers to enjoy without all the sermonizing! Instead, every time any group of men get together, they begin discussing some current event and then Levin has to argue with them and angst over it afterwards, and it doesn’t serve the story at all, in my opinion. (I’m sure others, most likely those who share more of Tolstoy’s views, would disagree with me.)

The other main character, Anna Karenina, is not entirely sympathetic to me either. The first time I read the book, I was fascinated by her and this was why I considered it something of a favourite. Anna is beautiful, charming, and intelligent, but on this read I’ve noticed that her main flaw seems to be selfishness. She also deliberately turns a blind eye to reality, literally narrowing her eyes to life so that she can pretend not to see how her own actions affect her, perhaps so she can go on blaming all of her problems on others. Of course Tolstoy means her story to be an object lesson in what happens to women who behave badly and rebel against the conventions of society; although supposedly he found some sympathy for her as he went along, it doesn’t save her from her tragic fate.

In contrast, her brother Stiva (Dolly’s husband), who also sleeps around, is forgiven by his wife and why? Because women don’t have control or power in their relationships. Dolly is devastated that she’s worn out from bearing all his children, while he’s still able to dress up and live it up like a bachelor. She’s no longer attractive to him from having so many children, and yet she’s supposed to forgive him and carry on, in part because she simply has no money to raise five (or more) children on her own. (Although it seems that her husband did marry her in part for her inherited land, but he’s the one selling it off to raise money for his own indebted goings-on.) So Stiva is able to happily carry on fooling around throughout the whole novel without much censure, while Anna’s adultery in comparison is a massive issue, obviously because she’s a woman. (I found out from the book Natasha’s Dance: A Cultural History of Russia by Orlando Figes that Tolstoy himself slept around a fair amount, often with the peasant women on his own estate! Perhaps even after his marriage…??)

Anyway. There’s more I’ve been thinking about this novel, but I don’t know how to put all of it into words. Karenin, Anna’s husband, is actually quite a sympathetic and sad character in the end, although initially he comes across as cold and rather heartless. He’s sarcastic with Anna just when she’s trying not to give in to Vronsky’s courting of her, instead of showing her the love and attention she craves. And yet the drama that develops around the threesome of Anna, her lover, and her husband, eventually causes Karenin to crack open and face his emotions, to become a better person, at least for a time. Tolstoy can be heartbreakingly perceptive about all his seven main characters (Anna, Karenin, Vronsky, Kitty, Levin, Stiva, Dolly — all of them tied together in various ways, for example, Vronsky is casually courting Kitty until he meets Anna) and various other more minor characters, but to me, he returns far too often to Levin’s (ie, his own) perspective. Yes, Levin cares about others, yes he tries to do good when others are selfish, yes he questions his life and wants to find greater meaning for it, yes his slow romance with Kitty is sweet and touching but but but. There’s just too much of his story and it’s too day-to-day — almost as if Anna’s scandalous side of the story is simply thrown in there just to make Tolstoy’s own regular life and thoughts novel-worthy. It seems slightly too self-indulgent, even if it is considered one of the truly great novels.

Despite all this criticism, obviously I did read the whole thing and twice at that, so there are some truly great scenes in it. There’s the ball where Anna and Vronsky first dance together, shown tellingly from Kitty’s perspective, with her heart sinking as she realizes Vronsky no longer cares for her. There’s Levin and Kitty skating together in Moscow and their friendship and yet awkwardness together. There’s the night-time train ride with Anna trying to read a novel (someone has suggested it’s by Trollope) and not able to stop thinking about Vronsky and then meeting him at a train station at night in the country, with the snow swirling all around them. There’s Vronsky’s big horse race. There’s even Levin mowing at harvest time with the peasants, which has a quiet peacefulness and grandeur of its own. There are truly many great and genuinely entertaining parts in this novel. I don’t even mind the very spiritual ending of the book, with Levin finally coming to some sort of religious epiphany. I just wish the story was more tightly focused on the seven main characters, instead of Tolstoy trying to throw in solutions to all the ills of late 19th century Russia at once. Admittedly, given that it’s Russia, there seem to have been some major ills going on! But given that the book is supposedly focused around the topic of the importance of the family (as the introduction in my edition states) and how the various families of the main characters function or fail to function, that should have been enough of a topic to go on.

Perhaps the political element was more relevant when it was first published, as novels about 9/11 or what-have-you are now. Maybe including these elements that seem so pertinent at the time dates a novel too much? Jane Austen famously didn’t even reference the Napoleonic Wars in her books, and yet she is read with great pleasure today for her still relevant character studies. She tried not to include references to ideas or objects that would date her books and they have a timeless quality to them still, two hundred years later. I do love some of Tolstoy’s period specific details though, like how he describes Anna and Kitty’s clothes at the ball (which is why I included the painting above, it makes me think of Anna). So I will end with my favourite description of clothes in all literature, written by the excessively moralistic Tolstoy of all people!

 Though Kitty’s toilette, coiffure and all the preparations for the ball had cost her a good deal of trouble and planning, she was now entering the ballroom, in her intricate tulle gown over a pink underskirt, as freely and simply as if all these rosettes and laces, and all the details of her toilette, had not cost her and her household a moment’s attention, as if she had been born in this tulle and lace, with this tall coiffure, topped by a rose with two leaves.

… Kitty was having one of her happy days. Her dress was not tight anywhere, the lace bertha stayed in place, the rosettes did not get crumpled or come off; the pink shoes with high, curved heels did not pinch, but delighted her little feet. The thick braids of blond hair held to her little head like her own. All three buttons on her long gloves, which fitted but did not change the shape of her arms, fastened without coming off. The black velvet ribbon of her locket encircled her neck with particular tenderness. This velvet ribbon was enchanting, and at home, as she looked at her neck in the mirror, she felt it could almost speak. All the rest might be doubted, but the ribbon was enchanting. Kitty also smiled here at the ball as she glanced at it in the mirror. In her bare shoulders and arms she felt a cold, marble-like quality that she especially liked. Her eyes shone, and her red lips could not help smiling from the sense of her own attractiveness.

And then girlish Kitty, who assumes she’s the belle of the ball, encounters Anna, whom she expects to have dressed in the clothes of a matron (the colour lilac), but is instead more of a 19th century femme fatale…

Anna was not in lilac, as Kitty had absolutely wanted, but in a low-cut black velvet dress, which revealed her full shoulders and bosom, as if shaped from old ivory, and her rounded arms with their very small, slender hands. The dress was all trimmed with Venetian guipure lace. On her head, in her black hair, her own without admixture, was a small garland of pansies, and there was another on her black ribbon sash among the white lace. Her coiffure was inconspicuous. Conspicuous were only those wilful little ringlets of curly hair that adorned her, always coming out on her nape and temples. Around her firm, shapely neck was a string of pearls.

Kitty had seen Anna every day, was in love with her, and had imagined her inevitably in lilac. But now, seeing her in black, she felt that she had never understood all her loveliness. She saw her now in a completely new and, for her, unexpected way. Now she understood that Anna could not have been in lilac, that her loveliness consisted precisely in always standing out from what she wore, that what she wore was never seen on her. And the black dress with luxurious lace was not seen on her; it was just a frame, and only she was seen — simple, natural, graceful, and at the same time gay and animated.

… She was enchanting in her simple black dress, enchanting were her full arms with the bracelets on them, enchanting her firm neck with its string of pearls, enchanting her curly hair in disarray, enchanting the graceful, light movements of her small feet and hands, enchanting that beautiful face in its animation; but there was something terrible and cruel in her enchantment.

 The contrast between the two women in this scene, merely through their clothes, is wonderfully done and I often think of it with pleasure. So there you have it, the highs and lows of my experiences in reading Tolstoy.

Anna Karenina & Anna Akhmatova

Just a quick update on my reading over the past week. I tried to finish The Age of Innocence, but wasn’t really into it anymore, so I went for the book that was really calling me: Anna Karenina. I’ve read over half of it now in my week off school and I’m loving it even more than I did the first time I read it almost four years ago. Yesterday I finally had to buy my own copy of the Richard Pevear & Larissa Volkhonsky translation, since I was reading a library copy before and it’s such a beautiful book that I needed my own copy! Along the way, I couldn’t resist getting Pevear & Volkhonsky’s new collection of The Death of Ivan Ilych and Other Stories also by Tolstoy (here’s an interview on The Millions with P&V after that book came out) and some of Chekhov’s short stories too. (The bookstore was having a sale and I’m wanting to read more Russian literature now, so I couldn’t resist.)

I must admit, I was suspicious of Tolstoy before because he had some very wacky ideas on how to run his personal life (like attempts at post-marital chastity and always reading his wife’s journals and getting her to read his), but his writing has won me over at last. The last time I read the book, I was a fan of Anna, but found Levin (Tolstoy’s alter-ego — much like a Woody Allen movie, Tolstoy keeps inserting himself and all of his doubts, questions, and insecurities about life into the narrative) to be a bore. This time, however, I am liking Levin and his search for a meaningful life a whole lot more. Maybe because I am slightly older myself on this reread and am wanting more out of life than Anna’s simple passion. I found the introduction Richard Pevear writes to be helpful in understanding Tolstoy and the novel itself better, as well as Harold Bloom’s chapter on Tolstoy in his book The Western Canon.

I love the simple pleasure Levin finds in nature, while he’s farming and hunting (the very parts that bored me before!). Reading this book has increased my own pleasure in walking through the snow that continues to fall here on the Canadian prairie, which after all, isn’t that different from the landscape of Russia. Reading Tolstoy is like climbing a mountain and breathing the fresh, pure, bracing mountain air as you ascend. There’s very little like it, hence my interest in reading more Tolstoy (I intend to get all the way through War & Peace at some point, but his shorter stories might be easier to go to next) and in exploring more Russian literature in general. I’m also curious about Russian history, since although Canadian students do learn a bit about it in school, I don’t remember many specifics. Russia seems to be such a huge country of contrasts, with such a tragic and haunting past, that I am eager to learn more about it. To me, Britain is cosy and France is fashionable, but there is something else about Russia, something beyond either of those things. Something beautiful and mysterious maybe (as Levin thinks of Kitty’s life), something about the Russian soul. Even the Russian names seem beautiful, although I still trip over them almost every time!

I’ve also been reading some poetry by Anna Akhmatova, who began writing before the Russian Revolution and had to carry her poems around in secret in the Soviet era.

Everything is plundered, betrayed, sold,
Death’s great black wing scrapes the air,
Misery gnaws to the bone.
Why then do we not despair?

By day, from the surrounding woods,
cherries blow summer into town;
at night the deep transparent skies
glitter with new galaxies.

And the miraculous comes so close
to the ruined, dirty houses—
something not known to anyone at all,
but wild in our breast for centuries.

Introducing the Sunday Stroll

Since the Sunday Salon membership is full, I thought I’d start something a little different for myself: the Sunday Stroll. It’s inspired by the French flâneur — a stroller, lounger, saunterer, loafer, through a city in order to experience it rather than to arrive at any specific destination. This is how I often tend to read, I pick up a lot of books I never finish, although I’d still like to discuss them, since they still have impact and meaning for me. So on Sundays I can recount the strolls I’ve taken through books and/or the bookish world. (Ie, how many trips did I make to the bookstore this week…)

Ever since the end of January when I read The Magicians by Lev Grossman (which I really enjoyed, with its references to Harry Potter & Narnia, as well as relating to the thing about having trouble being content with life as it is, but which also really made me rather sad thanks to the disillusioning ending), I have not been able to finish a book. I have kept trying to find favourites to reread and then giving up and moving on to the next one. I’ve tried Harry Potter, Wives & Daughters, North & South, Anne of Green Gables, even Emma! I got furthest with Emma, but since I only just reread it last fall, I was lured away from it as well. None of my typical comfort reads were working, they all just seemed a little bit too safe and (gasp) boring — they are all essentially coming-of-age stories, as well as romances, they are all about young girls (or boys, in Harry’s case), while I am now into my early 30s and I realized with a start that maybe I am occasionally wanting to read something more mature. (I’m not saying Jane Austen and Elizabeth Gaskell are at all immature, just that I can read beyond young girls growing up and experiencing idealistic romances!)

So I picked up The Age of Innocence since I’d been thinking of rereading it at some point as the first step before embarking on more Edith Wharton reading, as I did like her before, I just found it too sad and knew that if I kept reading her books, more sadness awaited. I found her beautiful style of writing and American perspective to be a breath of fresh air. I’m now over halfway through, but the sadness is building and once again, I’ve slowed down to a halt. Henry James (of all people) is partly to blame, along with my idea for a new reading project that developed from starting on Wharton.

For years I’ve been fascinated by the Second French Empire of Louis-Napoleon III, between 1852 and 1870, and I’ve tried to find books to read about it. Emile Zola in particular of the great 19th century French authors sets most of his novels in that time period, to show the corruption of Napoleon III’s regime. (I reviewed his novel The Kill here on my old book blog.) Flaubert and others were also writing then, but the thing is just that the French are so darn pessimistic. And due to my ongoing depression, while I want to challenge myself with their work and love learning about French history, I just can’t always take it. (Especially when the main female characters keep dying at the end of the books for their horrible transgressive sexuality!) I’ve tried reading the Goncourt brother’s diaries of the time as well and found them sexist and pessimistic (but more because they weren’t getting famous enough) too. And there isn’t a lot of historical fiction written about the period either, sadly. (Although Helen Humphreys, my favourite Canadian author, just released one called The Reinvention of Love, which I received for Christmas and haven’t read yet, about Victor Hugo’s wife and the literary critic she has an affair with.)

So, all that to say, reading The Age of Innocence, which is set in the 1870s of Wharton’s New York childhood, even though it was written decades later, made me think that maybe I could try reading any books from or about the latter half of the 19th century, set in any European or N. American country, preferably among the upper classes. One of the things I absolutely love about these types of books are the clothes. Yes, maybe it’s shallow, but I swoon over the ball and opera gowns described in Anna Karenina and The Age of Innocence, as well as in A.S. Byatt’s Morphio Eugenia and Zola’s books. They all end badly but at least they were pretty while it lasted! (On my tumblr I’m also collecting pictures of paintings and reproductions of dresses from the period, which are so so lovely.)

Which leads me back to Henry James. My local bookstore currently has a large quantity of this edition of The Golden Bowl, which I’d been eyeing for a while, before finally giving in and getting it. (The painting is so pretty, I couldn’t resist! I never used to care much about pretty books, this is all your fault, book blogging!) And then because it was so pretty, I actually started reading it, even though The Wings of the Dove is my book nemesis (I so want to read the whole thing and somehow never can). And then I actually found it interesting and readable! For a few chapters at least. Maybe Wharton helped me get in the mood for James. At all events, now I am yet again adrift in a sea of books, not sure what to pick up or go back to next. I do still want to finish The Age of Innocence and tell you all about it (especially the clothes!), I just have to work my way back there. I occasionally enjoy bookish trips to New York, but most of the time, my reading is firmly entrenched in Europe. And now that I’m back over there, I’m debating something else…

See, there’s a new movie of Anna Karenina coming out this fall (directed by Joe Wright) and even though Keira isn’t my favourite actress for period dramas (although she was surprisingly good in A Dangerous Method), I’m still super excited because I love the book. And now I’m debating a reread. I’ve tried that before and failed, but maybe now I’ll have more motivation? I have taken out the chunky Pevear & Volokhonsky translation from my library today, just in case I decide to go for it. (I think I’ll give it another go, just because. Anna. Karenina! I’m excited and a bit obsessed with pictures from the various film versions.) I read the older Constance Garnett translation my first time because it was the one I liked the best then, but it seems a little too dated this time. Of course the story is also sad, but at least there will be lots of great clothes and glamorous scenes at balls and train stations and horse races! (And also lots of farming and hunting with Levin, which I found awfully dull before, but maybe I’ll like him a bit more this time? Some people find Anna annoying, but I was fascinated by the romantic melodrama of her story last time. I just wish there was more of a balance between how earnest and good Levin is and how exciting Anna is…)

I will keep you posted on how it goes and hopefully I won’t flake out on every book I start for the rest of the year or even for the rest of the month. (Any suggestions on how?) I have nearly finished A Jane Austen Education by William Deresiewicz, so that’s something and I do have a whole week off from school now, so maybe I can power charge through a few of these books! I live in bookish hope. Or maybe I can just enjoy wandering my way through literature, without worrying about needing to prove how much I’ve read and reread. (Although part of the reason I came back to book blogging was to try to challenge myself to finish more things…) I’m also considering posting quotes from books as I read them somewhere, either here or here.

And that’s your Sunday stroll through the way my brain picks up and puts down books, bibliophiles. If anyone wants to sway me on which of these three books to read/finish first (out of Anna Karenina, The Age of Innocence, and The Golden Bowl), you’re perfectly free to! Especially if you want to read along with me.

PS. Also I have been debating rereading Mansfield Park. And I read a chapter or two of The Warden by Anthony Trollope a few days ago, just because it’s so easy to download random things onto my kindle. Stop it, brain.