This weekend is Lunar New Year, snow (6 inches), and Valentine’s Day! While I don’t enjoy being thoroughly stuck at home, my plan is to read, bake, and watch some movies.

Recent Reads

the Complete Cosmicomics by Italo Calvino

Late last month, I finished reading Cosmicomics as part of a readalong. This was my introduction to Calvino’s writing, and it was quite an experience. There are at least three different styles of stories in this collection—whimsical, surrealist, and science-heavy, each overlapping the other. I heartily enjoyed some of the stories—such as “Games Without End,” “The Dinosaurs,” and “World Memory,” and others not so much. I would say it’s the kind of short story collection you can jump around in and read at leisure. Cosmicomics won’t be everyone’s cup of tea, but those who enjoy whimsy and truly creative writing will want to give this a try.

Current Reads

Blindness by José Saramago

I’m halfway through Blindness and intend to finish it this week. On Instagram, I described it as “Lord of the Flies except with grown-ups and an epidemic.” It’s a rather grim tale about an outbreak of blindness that spreads like a virus, leading to the imprisonment of the victims. Unlike LOTF, however, this book takes a different angle, with the government as the main antagonist and at least some of the protagonists holding onto their humanity. Not sure how this is going to end, or what the sequel could possibly be about, so I’m looking forward to finishing it!

Villette by Charlotte Brontë

I haven’t read Villette in something like twelve years, so it’s been fun revisiting it for a readalong on MeWe. I really like Lucy Snowe—she’s not perfect nor even totally likeable, but she’s endearing. (I get so tired of female characters who are flawless or only flawed.)

Reading Villette more carefully this time around, I notice a lot of foreshadowing of future events and characters. I’m also struck by the social commentary on women travelling alone. According to the characters in this book, only English women were noted for solo travel. I’m reminded of Isabella Bird and Mary Kingsley…. A naive interpretation might be that the British Empire enabled these women to feel confident travelling alone. (Emphasis on “feel”—Lucy Snowe does run into a harrassment situation, at which point the actual safety of her independence is called into question.) But that doesn’t quite account for it, because other European nations had their empires and infrastructure, too. Could it be a cultural reason? Perhaps someone more versed in feminist history knows the answer… I think it’s an interesting topic and one I’d like to research more about.

Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes

This is my third read-along book—two of my Instagram bookish friends are hosting a massive, 80+ person readalong of Don Quixote! I joined on the spur of the moment, seeing as how I’ve avoided this book for years. I am way behind the others but I intend to finish this even if it takes me the rest of the year, because I certainly do not wish to start it again in the future. 😆

Don’t get me wrong—I’m enjoying Don Quixote! I’m reading the John Ormsby translation from Project Gutenberg, and it’s delightfully funny and lighthearted compared to most of the books I’ve read recently. “Cozy” is how I’d sum it up. But it is long, so I don’t want to make the same mistake that I made with The Count of Monte Cristo. This book, I shall finish on my first attempt.


As for David Copperfield, I haven’t forgotten him, but I haven’t been reading him, either. I suspect he will turn into a late-spring/early-summer read, though I will try to keep up with him as time permits.

12 thoughts on “February Reading

  1. I joined MeWe and am part of that lit group, but I feel like a grandma trying to figure out a new social media network esp, since I’ve been trying to cut down. Is there a discussion for Villette or did y’all just start?

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  2. i’m pretty sure i read DQ but it’s been… 50 years? i should do it again and (he says hesitantly) maybe will perhaps get the initiative to actually pick it up and it’s within the realm of possibility that i might grasp in one hand while venturing to approach the first page with other and…

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  3. I read a biography of the Brontes and Villette is the most autobiographical. Bronte went to Belgium and developed an infatuation with an instructor there. Both the Professor in this novel and Rochester are based on this man.

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    1. I remember reading that once and being a bit shocked! Since then, it’s made a lot more sense… I visited Haworth years ago, and the loneliness of the place left a huge impression on me. You could practically feel the emotional isolation that the Bronte sisters must have experienced and which Charlotte describes in her novels. It seems natural she would’ve fallen for the first man she became close to, even though it was highly inappropriate.

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      1. Is Haworth their house in the Moors. You lucky! I would love to visit there. The biography I read contained a lot of letters that Charlotte had written to the Belgium professor. It’s hard to read them other than as inappropriate.

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  4. Villette was my least favorite of the Brontes’ works, and the first time I read it, I confess I didn’t understand it at all, I was too used to Jane Eyre and Shirley. Recently I saw the movie “To Walk Invisible”, and Charlotte Bronte’s affair which finds reflection in Villette is mentioned there. It was quite eye-opening, it seems we really don’t know that much about the Brontes.

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    1. I remember seeing that on PBS! It was so depressing but pretty well done.
      I think Villette tends to divide readers. It is so different from the other Bronte novels, too, at least those I’ve read (my last one I haven’t read yet is The Tenant of Wildfell Hall).

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