may books

I read twelve books in May. Less than I would have liked, but I spent several weeks — the Bainbridge Island week and half of the one afterwards — hardly reading at all. Highlights:

  • To the Lighthouse, Virginia Woolf — One of the most wonderful, beautiful, absolutely perfect books I have ever read. I can’t do it justice in talking about it. Devastating and gorgeous, devastatingly gorgeous.
    End realization: the entire book is Lily’s picture, and when Lily thinks about painting, it is Virginia talking about writing.
  • Daniel Deronda, George Eliot — The book that made me an Eliot convert. Daniel Deronda is my new fictional boyfriend. I took the longest time to read this book — weeks! — because I never wanted it to end. A must for anyone who cares even a little for 19th C. British literature.
  • The Female Malady, Elaine Showalter — Of course the sections about current psychiatry are very outdated (the book was published over twenty years ago), but the historical information about Victorian psychiatry is fascinating and invaluable. Fabulous companion book to all of that aforementioned 19th C British lit that I’ve read this year …
  • The Member of the Wedding, Carson McCullers — I had read this before, almost exactly a year ago, but it didn’t catch me as much the first time as it did the second, probably because I read it immediately after The Heart is a Lonely Hunter and was too astounded by that book to make room in my mind for this novella. This time, though, it affected me immensely. I’m not sure I’ve ever encountered such a perfect mirror of my barely-adolescent self ever before in literature. Beautiful, heartbreaking, sometimes profound little story about the hunger to belong to something larger than oneself. (“They are the we of me,” Frankie thinks of her brother and his fiancee. How I always longed for people to be the “we” of “me!”)

The other books that I read: The Ballad of the Sad Cafe, McCullers (novella, and so might not count as a book); Care of the Soul, Thomas Moore (yes, it’s a self help book); The Poems of Laura Riding, Laura (Riding) Jackson (I really did read almost all of them); The Foreign Legion, Clarice Lispector; House of the Sleeping Beauties, Yasunari Kawabata (one short story in this one that I liked v. much); Hystories: Hysterical Epidemics and Modern Media, Elaine Showalter (nothing I didn’t already know); Guanya Pau, Joseph Walters (ugh); My Name is Red, Orhan Pahmuk (only okay — hard to believe he won the Nobel!). Also I reread Elizabeth Gaskell’s Ruth, but only because I was writing a 15 page paper on it, so I’m not particularly counting it in the tally.

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~ by Not Alice on June 2, 2007.

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