Posts filed under ‘bookworm’

Book Soup

I read all day until the words blur and refuse to stay in place, like lines of crawling ants. This is what I’m reading:

  • Jacques Derrida, Of Grammatology (a bit at a time)
  • Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak Preface to Of Grammatology (also a bit of at a time)
  • Paul Kane, Australian Poetry: Romanticism and Negativity
  • Bruce Holsinger, The Premodern Condition: Medievalism and the Making of Theory
  • Kevin Hart, The Lines of the Hand; Your Shadow; Peniel (Poems. This is more fun.)

And pretty soon, I aim to start on The Cloud of Unknowing, some more books about Derrida and some stuff by Maurice Blanchot. I stupidly left in Leeds a couple of very important titles: The Trespass of the Sign and Flame Tree, both by Kevin Hart. My housemate posted them to me on Monday, we’ll see when they arrive.

My bed-time reading is The Solid Mandala, by Patrick White. I don’t like White much, on the whole, but I feel obliged to get to know his work better (he’s Australia’s only Nobel laureate). I forced myself through Tree of Man aged sixteen, and have never recovered. That said, I read Riders in the Chariot around the same time, over a breathless Easter weekend (appropriately), and just adored it. More recently I read Voss and enjoyed that in a way. So. There’s hope yet. Last night I gave up on everything and buried myself in The Absolute Sandman, which I had rather extravagantly bought for the lovie’s birthday a few months back. You can’t beat fantasy, in the end… And pictures. Pictures are nice.

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October 5, 2007 at 1:40 pm 2 comments

Why I read what I read

It’s a mix, really. But there are three guiding principles: to get to know my academic field (margins as well as centres); to read the sort of books I’d like to write; and finally, for pure pleasure.

The first category is rather broad. It includes postcolonial fiction, especially Australian, anything written in the Middle Ages (5th to 14th centuries, as well as Classical works which influenced these centuries), anything written after the Middle Ages (any time up till now) which refers in some way to the Middle Ages, and of course academic books and articles about these topics. I suppose I should be catching up on the theorists too.

The second category, books I’d like to write, is veering towards young adult fiction of a magical nature. That’s sort of what I wrote the first time. I say sort of because I don’t think it fits neatly into a genre, which is partly why it took so long to write – 10 years, on and off. I’m currently seeking an agent – a painstaking process. This time I’d like to write something with a neater structure – a structure I have in mind before I begin. Books I’ve read recently in this category include Lian Hearn (Gillian Rubenstein)’s marvellous The Nightingale Floor trilogy. It’s an epic adventure set in a land reminiscent of medieval Japan. The story is gripping, the writing is beautiful, and I just loved them. There’s actually a fourth one waiting for me in Leeds – I’ll tell you all about it when I’ve read it.

The third category – pure pleasure – obviously overlaps with the first two. I love beautiful writing. I love a light touch. I love fantasy, of the Gaiman and Pullman kind. Of the novels I’ve written about so far on this blog, I’ve enjoyed The Hours the best.

So on my rather hazy to be read list are: 19th and early 20th century Australian literature (I haven’t read much of this and feel that I should), Beloved, by Toni Morrison (often is mentioned in postcolonial contexts, and I’ve a feeling it’s a great book), more Walter Scott (I read and loved Ivanhoe earlier this year), and oh, lots more. I want to read some Gail Jones. I want to start re-reading Chaucer, as my recollection of some of The Canterbury Tales is getting rather hazy. I’ve decided to bite the bullet and buy a second copy of The Riverside Chaucer (big lump of a thing that just will not fit in my bag and so must remain in Adelaide). Any recommendations? Why do you read what you read?

June 11, 2007 at 2:48 pm 4 comments

Eight Things

Eva at A Striped Armchair tagged for the eight things meme! It’s been doing the rounds of the book blogs. So, here’s my list.

  1. Colourful teacups, socks and cushions make me happy.
  2. Everything stops for Dr. Who.
  3. I can’t spell
  4. I learnt to paraglide in Austria when I didn’t speak German (although I learnt the words for straight ahead, left, right, and brake very quickly)
  5. Things I miss about Australia: sunshine, fruchocs, Farmers Union Iced Coffee, sandy beaches, my family, rosellas, magpies in the morning, the smell of gum trees
  6. My life in cats: Che Che (the panda cat, long-suffering); Thistledown (fluffy, soppy, blue-grey); Merlin (huge chocolate Burmese, dangerous and beautiful); Mr Cat (inquisitive, ingenious, the gentleman cat)
  7. St Petersburg, Stockholm, Zurich and Berlin are my favourite European cities. And of course York.
  8. Radioactive Man is the best

And here are the people I’m tagging:

Radioactive Man at Radioactive Man
Richard, at Postcards from Richard
Jess, at This Delicious Solitude
Fifi, at Strange Fruit
Jordan, at clash of the bull and the frog
Ilse, at Fraulein Ilse’s Blog
Anne, Emily and Charlotte at Ask the Bronte Sisters
Aquisitionist at Literary Aquisitionist

May 19, 2007 at 7:30 pm 6 comments

From bookworm to butterfly

The Very Hungry Caterpillar. Melanie Mall and the Pie in the Sky. John Brown, Rose and the Midnight Cat. Hundreds of fairytales. And a good dose of A.A. Milne, especially King John, who longs for ‘a big, red India-rubber ball’. From these humble beginnings, we bravely set forth to destinations unknown.

Pippi Long-stocking and The Hobbit – undisputed stars of the primary school years. Until the unsuspecting bookworm is plucked from her cosy hole and dropped in a country town, burrowing for cover in the fat, welcoming, wonderful Lord of the Rings. This proves a good companion for six long years, but there is space for other travelers on the road: Chaim Potok, Susan Cooper, David Malouf. At the end of year 12 she re-reads TLOTR in three days straight, and worries that she loves it more than God.

At University the green leaves of the forest beckon. Leaving Tolkien behind, the intrepid bookworm flirts with Italo Calvino before munching on happily in a much bigger world: Jane Eyre, James Joyce, Eliot – both T.S. and George, Chaucer, Malory, Sir Gawain, Tim Winton, and a heavy, heady dose of Dostoevsky. Bliss.

After four years, bookworm emerges, bewildered, squinting at the light. Finds a job that lets her read at night. Sweeping floors, pushing wheelchairs and wiping bottoms by day, the bookworm gorges sweetly by night: War and Peace, Middlemarch, everything Neil Gaiman ever wrote. And slowly, she hatches the best plan yet.

One long snooze, and the bookworm sprouts wings, big ones. It’s off to England, to read the old books in the old languages. And the shiny new butterfly finds more than she’d hoped. Yes – there’s Ovid and Virgil, Augustine, Dante, the glittery Pearl, Norse Sagas and Anglo-Saxon poems like heavy gold rings. But there’s also Kurt Vonnegut, Milan Kundera, Virginia Woolf, Philip Roth, Umberto Eco and the magical Philip Pullman. Here are fields, broad and bright, their new colours flashing in the sun.

May 11, 2007 at 10:44 pm 5 comments

Asleep in a book

May 9, 2007 at 10:11 pm Leave a comment

The Little Book Room

I read The Little Book Room back in the days when books didn’t have authors but were magical objects that somehow crossed from other worlds into this one. It was red, and worn, and smelled of old paper. It was a collection of stories, and the first story was about a special room, lined with books. I wanted that room, I wanted to be there. And then, miraculously, the book became the room. I have not seen this book since I was a child, but some of the stories are still precious to me. One of them was about a beautiful glass Christmas tree. In anther, a king had to go on an adventure to find a bride. His kingdom was bordered by a tall, thick hedge, beyond which was wasteland. His knights would jump over the hedge on their horses, and there was nothing there. But the children, who crawled under the hedge, knew that on the other side there was a magical forest. And one day, the king crawled under the hedge, and his adventures began.

The book was partly about these magnificent stories, and partly about the pleasure of reading them. That’s what this is about too. Books encountered and remembered. Not just books but the spaces they exist in. You’re welcome to join me, under the hedge.

May 2, 2007 at 3:11 pm 3 comments


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