In between the business of life I have managed to finish reading two major books from my lists as well as some lighter
fare for fun in the last couple of weeks. On July 30th, 2011, I finally finished reading The Tale of Genji by Lady Murasaki Shikibu. It took me two months to read all 1,135 pages as well as various online sources, papers, and a book of artwork entitled The Tale of Genji: legends and paintings, edited by Miyeko Murase as supplemental material to better understand all 1,135 pages of Genji. It was a long journey. Indeed it has rather overshadowed my summer. I have dragged that book along with me to almost all my regular haunts. Sometimes I do a double take when I realize my bag is unusually light and easy to hold. Now that I’m done, I have a lot of thoughts brewing which will erupt into a proper long post dedicated to my reading experience in time. Teaser for you: there will be dew drops.
Today I finished reading The Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury. It was sublime. I copied out more quotes from the book into my reading journal than I’ve done for any other book this summer. This is a book I will cherish and reference. I am even tempted to embroider some of those quotes, embroidery is not my favorite pastime but Bradbury’s turns of phrase are very worth remembering. I’ve been meaning to read this book for years, ever since I read “There Will Come Soft Rains,” in middle school English composition. Yet, I’m glad it took this long. I’m glad I read it this month, this summer, this year of my life rather than any previous one. I think books, like people, sometimes come into a life exactly when they are meant to do so to effect the greatest impact on that life. Being an optimist by nature, I will go as far as saying that this miracle of timing happens when the most good is meant to be done, can be done, for that particular person. I needed Bradbury’s words from this particular book at this particular time. This year has been a rough ride and it’s not over yet but I’m glad I have this book in my heart for ballast. I have more to say but that too will come after more time for pondering.
To recover from the experience of Genji I read a pile of Agatha Christie novels which I haven’t read in years. Like a sorbet after a heavy course my reading palate feels cleansed. These are pure fun for me. I delight in watching Christie’s narrative sleight of hand as she plays with train schedules, minutiae of meals, and human caricatures which she contrives to have heart all the same. I love how her books almost always have a touch of acerbic humor, English mannerisms, witty dialogue, and almost always a sweet romance. I love Poirot and Miss Marple. I love their staunch opposition to evil and wickedness as well as their human foibles, their distinct personalities. After reading about the excesses and stupidity of the super rich of ancient Japan, a dose of plain English traditions coupled with a solid whodunit was a welcome change. I read The Third Girl , The Seven Dials Mystery, and A Pocketful of Rye. They are all splendid and heartily recommended by me.
Next up, I will embark on Gravity’s Rainbow and Briar Rose from my respective lists. I am still plugging away on Voyage of the Beagle which I am determined to finish before summer’s end. Some might say that summer is over when school starts but since I’m not confined to a big yellow school bus any longer I say that summer is over at September 1st and not a day before. I still have three weeks and four days worth of summer left and I mean to make the most of it. According to my calculations, I have read 3,348 pages worth of text this summer, not counting science papers and fun books like Agatha Christie. I am determined to see how many more I can yet cram into these warm breezy days and I encourage all my dear readers to do the same.