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.
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.
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.