Not so young grasshopper

Credit: http://thegraphicsfairy.com/vintage-grasshopper-label-image/

I finally decided to take a long hard look at the pile of books on my bedside table. I’d just finished Marie Brennan’s rip-roaring A Natural History of Dragons and was considering what to go for next. On that pile were

  • Sinclair Lewis’s It Can’t Happen Here, the first of those titles I’ve stalled on. Or — as I prefer to think of it — a title that I’m deliberating over. The fact is, where I’ve got to in ICHH is in many ways so close a parallel to what has occurred so far with Trump’s presidency that I find it too depressing to go on, for now at least.
  • Daphne Du Maurier’s Castle Dor. This time it’s the pedestrian pace adopted by Arthur Quiller-Couch that is fazing me. Maybe when I finally get to Du Maurier’s continuation things will pick up. At the moment it dulls the heart.
  • Joydeep Roy-Bhattacharya’s The Storyteller of Marrakesh should be right up my street. Story-telling, mystery, a narrative about narration — I should be wallowing in the metafiction of it all. But maybe I wasn’t in the mood for it, having started in the depths (or rather mid-shallows) of the British winter. It will stay by my beside until summer is nigh.
  • After I read Emma I had a look at a commentary on it in A Brief Guide to Jane Austen, a commentary I’d avoided when I first read Charles Jennings’ discussion of all things Austen. My eye then was drawn by his section of Persuasion, but I stopped until I had too much of a preview of Austen’s last great novel. It’ll stay until I read that novel.
  • And that takes us to Persuasion itself, which I began immediately after finishing Emma, having been *ahem* persuaded it was more satisfying. But then I was distracted again, this time by a study I’d stalled on  been ‘deliberating’ over last year. This was …
  • Irene Collins’ Jane Austen and the Clergy which is a fascinating and detailed account of the author’s attitude to and treatment of clergymen in her fiction and in real life. Given that she was a clergyman’s daughter, the sister of two others and the cousin of four more, this study is already enlightening me, revealing how realistically she treats religious figures in her novels, whether Mr Collins or Mr Elton, Edmund Bertram or Mr Tilney.

And that takes me to now. Having just finished Marie Brennan’s fantasy — a wonderful romp which I shall be reviewing (soon, I hope) — I alighted on Henry James’s The Spoils of Poynton. I really wanted to read some James (any James in fact) in 2016, the centenary year of his death; but you can’t do everything, and so it is that this year will mark my first belated sniff at this author’s work.

That’s a typical snapshot of my grasshopper mind, a state that’s when it comes to reading hasn’t changed much since my childhood. Patience, young grasshopper is a injunction that could have applied to me then and, with a change of adjective, still applies now. And you? Do you have a pile of books in different stages of completion, which you’re deliberating over? Or do you finish what you start, with your equivalent of a bedside table relatively free of clutter?


April is nearly over, and like April showers it doesn’t seem to have lasted very long. In that time I’ve reviewed only three books: Jane Austen’s Emma, Joan Aiken’s A Bundle of Nerves and Glenda Leeming’s Who’s Who in Jane Austen and the Brontës (though of course I’ve only dipped into this last title, as it’s primarily a reference book). Poor show. But I have marked April Fool’s Day, Easter, St George’s Day and World Book Night — all in a bookish way — discussed Emma in a series of posts and signalled my progress on demolishing my pile of to-be-read books. So it hasn’t been too inactive a month.

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8 thoughts on “Not so young grasshopper

  1. I suffer from a kind of book bulimia in which I become very anxious if I haven’t read everything that’s on the table (or floor beside the bed) within a week, and sometimes vomit up the books half-digested. TBR piles are definitely not for me.

    1. A bibliobulimiac? My sympathies, Gert — I am one of these chew-everything-thirty-times types when it comes to books. Maybe we’re both picky eaters in our own ways.

    1. I was already attracted by the title, Nikki, but to be honest it was your enthusiasm for this that persuaded me to take the plunge, so thanks! Looking forward to more in the series, and maybe her other earlier stuff too.

  2. I hope to read that Marie Brennan book this year but time is going so quickly. Too quickly.

    I was listening to an In Our Time (Culture) podcast in which they were discussing Emma and it made me want to re-read it. At least one Austen must be read this year.

    I’m currently reading The Book of Souls by James Oswald; and The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas (for review). Both good read although the latter is making me cry big, fat tears. I am also a few chapters into Edmund Crispin’s The Case of the Gilded Fly and have enjoyed what I’ve read so far, except that so many characters are introduced by chapter 2 that I can’t remember who they all are.

    1. I’ll try and find that In Our Time podcast, thanks!

      The Angie Thomas book has been receiving sterling reviews, and from your comment I can understand why. As for the Crispin novel, I quite enjoyed this a couple or so years ago but oddly never got round to reviewing it, but I do have another of his in that series (with Toyshop in the title) which I shall try when I want a little bit of light reading. (And I shall have a notebook to hand for all those characters!)

      Enjoy the Brennan fantasy and whichever Austen you go for — perhaps you’ll be reading them simultaneously, as you seem to be doing with the Oswald, Thomas and Crispin?!

  3. elmediat

    I’ve finished The Invisible Library by Genevieve Cogman and have begun The Oversight by Charlie Fletcher. Both books suffer from uneven pacing or I felt uneven. 😀 I may start another to see if it is me . 🙂 Meanwhile the book pile shifts in shape as I rummage and re-stack. Sometimes it appears to do so without my interaction.

    1. A book pile that shifts without your interaction? Sounds like a cue for a horror story, or even a stimulus for an asemic post. There, I gift it to you. 🙂

      I too was concerned with the pacing of the Cogman, enough to hesitate beginning the second in the series. Haven’t read any Fletcher. The novel I’ve just completed and reviewed (A Natural History of Dragons) is more satisfying in terms of pace, and thus a more enjoyable — though sadly a quicker — read.

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