“The person, be it gentleman or lady, who has not pleasure in a good novel, must be intolerably stupid.”
― Jane Austen, Northanger Abbey
In my imagination August is always associated with books. It may be that, unless memory plays me false, I spent most school summer holidays cosied up with a classic novel; or that the relatively recent promulgation of August 9th as Book Lovers Day merely cements a traditional association.
I may also have Cathy Brown’s increasingly popular meme 20 Books of Summer (or 15, or 10) to blame. But whatever the cause, today may be a good time to take stock.
I opted to officially read 10 named books this summer. So far I’ve completed The Lord of the Rings for the umpteenth time, Aldous Huxley’s so-so The Genius and the Goddess, Muriel Jaeger’s dytopian The Question Mark and Frances Hodgson Burnett’s A Little Princess from my list. I’m also simultaneously pottering through works by Nikolai Gogol, Mervyn Peake and whatever catches my attention, though I’m aware that my attention span currently compares unfavourably with a goldfish or a gnat.
So that hasn’t stopped me reading or dipping into other books since the beginning of June: novels by Edith Nesbit, C S Lewis, Patricia Highsmith, Muriel Spark, Penelope Fitzgerald and Georges Simenon have all featured, and been reviewed.
The Austen in August meme also runs throughout this month. Since I’ve read all her mainstream novels I thought I might try Catharine, or The Bower from her substantial juvenilia, begun in the early 1790s when she was around seventeen. This might be initially preferable to me trying her later incomplete fiction, namely Sanditon* and The Watsons.
The Canadian author Robertson Davies was born on 28th August and, following a meme once run by Lory Hess which had us reading his work in the week leading to his birthday, I shall be tackling the third title in his Salterton trilogy, A Mixture of Frailties.
Finally – for now, at least – I’ve determined to follow Annabel Gaskell in reading the complete series of Susan Cooper’s The Dark is Rising sequence, using the #TDiRS22 tag. Though I’ve read and reviewed the first three novels, I’ve yet to tackle the last two which are set in Wales. A quick reread of the first title, Over Sea, Under Stone, will prove an ideal holiday book, set as it is in a fictional Cornish fishing village during the summer holidays.
And what better than kidlit reads to while away the weeks ahead?
What do you choose for summer holiday reading? Light fiction? Blockbusters? Classics? Or do you continue with your usual plans?
* Our son was one of the key grips on the second series of Sanditon, an adaptation and continuation of Austen’s incomplete novel.