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What are you reading this summer?


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#1 dirac

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Posted 03 June 2003 - 08:58 AM

Now that the summer months have arrived, I thought I'd start a reading thread. Tell us what you're planning to read, are reading, or just finished reading, and include the good, the bad, and the ugly....

#2 Alexandra

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Posted 03 June 2003 - 09:02 AM

My summer reading is a long-postponed project: reading all of Edith Wharton and Henry James, to fulfill a promise made to my American Novel professor many years ago. (We all hated both of them, the whole class, and could not get through "The Ambassadors." We tried. We really did try. And he finally gave up -- he loved James -- and said, "Okay, you're right. You're too young. You've got to promise that you'll read it when you're 40.")

#3 Calliope

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Posted 03 June 2003 - 09:08 AM

I read"The Da Vinci Code" which I loved, Wallace Stegner is my summer reading project.
looking forward to the Harry Potter book.

#4 Ari

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Posted 03 June 2003 - 09:43 AM

Originally posted by Alexandra
We . . . could not get through "The Ambassadors."   We tried.  We really did try.  And he finally gave up -- he loved James -- and said, "Okay, you're right.  You're too young.  You've got to promise that you'll read it when you're 40.")

Oh, Alexandra, I can't tell you how many times I've tried to read The Ambassadors. Like you and your classmates, I really did try. But I couldn't get past the first page, even when I'd passed 40. :) The last time I actually made it to the second page, but that's as far as I got.

I find James's earlier novels and novellas easier reading than his dense later works. The Americans, The Europeans, The Aspern Papers, Washington Square, are all manageable and even interesting. The turning point was Portrait of a Lady, I think. It's a great novel, I've read it twice, but I can't seem to get past it.

I'm surprised you all hated Wharton. I read The Age of Innocence and (my favorite) The House of Mirth when I was in my teens and loved them. Ethan Frome is pretty dull, though, and they often seem to inflict it on students, probably because it's short.

#5 Hans

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Posted 03 June 2003 - 09:53 AM

I love Edith Wharton. The only problem is that I've already read everything she ever wrote that is currently commercially available :).

Ari, I don't like James' later works much, either--and neither did Edith Wharton!

I'm afraid my reading this summer is going to consist mostly of social psychology textbooks and course catalogs.

#6 Alexandra

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Posted 03 June 2003 - 10:00 AM

Ari, it was Ethan Frome that did it. That was required reading in 10th grade, and I never could connect that with That Other Edith Wharton I read about, so didn't try. (I couldn't get through Austen as a teenager either, but had no trouble with Dostoyevsky; "Notes from the Underground" and "The Possessed" were my favorites at that age.)

I haven't tried "Ethan Frome" again. I started with "Old New York" -- four novellas -- and enjoyed them; next is "Age of Innocence." I'm almost finished James's "Washington Square." Don't love it, don't hate it.

I'd forgotten that I still have books leftover from last summer, popular fiction, "Atonement" and "The Lovely Bones" among others. I got "The DaVinci Code" from Book of the Month, and I know this is childish, but it's such a terrible edition -- cheap cheap paper, print that rubs off in your hands, tiny pages -- that there is no pleasure reading it. I'd rather have a paperback.

#7 Jaana Heino

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Posted 03 June 2003 - 10:26 AM

I went temporarily insane and ordered Warren's "Classical Ballet Technique", Barringer's "The Pointe Book", and Grieg's "Inside Ballet Technique: Separating Fact from Fiction in the Ballet Class", though I really couldn't have afforded them all. They should arrive in June-July. :)

Meanwhile, I'm patching up my science fiction knowledge by reading old classics I have missed for some reason. I just finished Frederik Pohl's "Gateway", and it was indeed briliant. It showed that really good sf doesn't get old even when the science and speculative history becomes impossible in the world we now know.

Work requires reading, too, but I haven't compiled a list of necessary reading yet.

#8 Old Fashioned

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Posted 03 June 2003 - 11:16 AM

The required reading for school is Bless Me, Ultima by Rudolfo Anaya and Huck Finn . Other books I'll be looking into is The DaVinci Code and I'm already halfway through a collection of short stories by Neil Gaiman called Smoke and Mirrors . Gaiman is so amazing. I've been wanting for a long time to read In Cold Blood but haven't found time to due to laziness.

#9 scoop

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Posted 03 June 2003 - 11:54 AM

I'm hoping to, finally, get time to read a wonderful Christmas present, "Stravinsky and Balanchine." Also, a book that caught my eye recently by a favorite author, David Halberstam: "The Teammates," about a couple of old baseball players who take one last trip to visit Ted Williams. I like "journey" books.

And, this will tell you how long it takes me to get around to reading books instead of the newspapers and magazines that clutter my life, I plan to read other novels by the author I raved about in last year's version of this thread: Ian McEwan. I read "Atonement" last year and can't recommend it highly enough -- it's in paperback now. The story is about a British family, in between the two world wars, and turns on a misperceived incident one summer night that ends up having devastating consequences. The writing is just sweepingly beautiful and the story will haunt your imagination for a long time. I'm trying to decide which of McEwan's other novels I'll pick up next -- any suggestions? "Amsterdam?" "Comfort of Strangers?"

#10 Mary J

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Posted 03 June 2003 - 12:04 PM

I have just finished "Still She Haunts Me," by Katie Roiphe, a novel based on the relationship between Charles Dodgson (Lewis Carroll) and Alice Liddell. It is an amazing, sensitive book and I was sorry to finish it when I felt I had gotten to know all the characters so well. I have also read the Jasper Fforde book, "The Eyre Affair," which is a complete romp, both fascinating and funny. And re-reading Alexandra's biography of Henning Kronstam - this is about the third time I have read it, and always something different strikes me about Kronstam or about the creative process.

My perennial summer guilt trip of the intellect is Joyce's Ulysses with gun and guidebook. Have never managed to get very far into that beautiful and terrifying jungle - I think I will have to take a course to complete it.

#11 Farrell Fan

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Posted 03 June 2003 - 12:25 PM

I've heard other favorable reports about "The Da Vinci Code," but I'm prejudiced against it because of the title. The man who painted the Mona Lisa, wrote backwards, invented the submarine, dissected cadavers, etc., is Leonardo, but Da Vinci is not his surname; Vinci is his hometown. (Lenny from Vinci.) Maybe I'm being too hasty and the title means "The Code from Vinci?" Whatever.

I plan on reading a couple of new novels given to me by a friend in publishing. They are "The Photograph," by Penelope Lively, and "River Season," by Jim Black. I also intend to reread Giuseppe di Lampedusa's great novel, "The Leopard," which I do every few years. Unhappily, the magificent Visconti film made from it, starring Burt Lancaster, has never been available on video.

#12 Ed Waffle

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Posted 03 June 2003 - 02:39 PM

Edith Wharton--I fell in love with her novels as an undergraduate--read most of them, wrote a few papers. Fun stuff.

Current reading: "The Dead of Jericho" by Colin Dexter. Dexter has written a number of detective novels centered around Oxford---more the town than the university. The protagonist is a very dour Detective Inspector named Morse who loves Mozart and Wagner. This is the fourth or fifth of them I have read.

"Coming of Age as a Poet" by Helen Vendler. She is a prof at Harvard but writes very accessibly--she publishes both in scholarly journals and also in the New York Review of Books. She write better about poetry than anyone I can think of.

I have just finished her book on Seamus Heaney and am using it as a partial guide back into the poetry of Heaney. I am reading "Opened Ground", which is selected poetry of his with an emphasis on works since 1987.

"Life on the Mississippi" by Mark Twain, a book I read and savor every five years or so--it seems time to read it again.

I recently finished "On the Origins of War and the Preservation of Peace" by Donald Kagan. He has a new book out, "The Peloponnesian War", which is a revision and distillation of his four volume work on the same war. I keep walking past it in bookstores, knowing I will buy it at some point.

#13 Calliope

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Posted 03 June 2003 - 02:51 PM

Farrell Fan...based on your post alone, you should read "Da Vinci Code" !

#14 Alexandra

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Posted 03 June 2003 - 04:07 PM

Ed, one of the few TV programs I do like is the Morse series on "Mystery" -- currently in reruns on A&E Monday nights :D

#15 Farrell Fan

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Posted 03 June 2003 - 06:02 PM

Calliope, you talked me into it. I'll read the Da Vinci Code.


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