Progress. I have just started reading part six (there are eight parts) of Anna Karenina. I feel as though I am finally making serious progress and that the end is in sight. Don't get me wrong, as I am enjoying the story, but I've been working my way through this novel for much longer than I anticipated it would take me. I'm contemplating forgoing all my other books temporarily until I finish this and spending all my reading time with Anna. She is now being snubbed by society and it is painful to watch--equally as painful, Vronsky is distancing himself from her. It's not going to be happy and maybe that is what has me rushing to the end.
I've pruned a few books from my nightstand (and sidebar). I'm trying to keep things tidy and clear as the end of the year approaches. The books that went back the the shelves are good books, only I want to try and finish as many as I can. As I hadn't gotten very far in those particular stories, they seemed like natural choices when it came to trying to bring the pile under control. I'm trying not to start a new pile of books for holiday reading, but you know how that goes. . .
I'm finding that I am really enjoying Elizabeth George's This Body of Death, however. I know her most recent books have received pretty tepid reviews and her stories have in some ways gotten a little too unwieldy--particularly compared with her earliest novels. Probably a lot could be edited out, but strangely I am sort of enjoying the circuitous plot. There's a lot going on, more than one mystery to the mystery, and a fairly large cast of characters. But I like how she will bring it all together in the end. I'm finding the different plot threads very interesting and the characters equally as interesting, though George does like pointing out some of the strangest quirks sometimes. And it helps that Barbara Havers and Winston Nkata are back center stage as well. We'll see how it goes, but so far she has me hooked.
Judith Lennox's Heart of the Night is also proving to be an entertaining read. It's your basic historical romance, though not too romance-y. She seems to be a cross between Rosamunde Pilcher and Penny Vincenzi with a dash of Maeve Binchy--pure comfort read material. The story is set during WWII and follows the fortunes of two young women--one in England and one in Germany. I know books like this can be pretty predictable, but so far she's moving the characters around in ways I hadn't really expected. I have added her name to my list of authors to keep an eye out for--I like having these sorts of reads on hand for a little escapism.
Oh, and I must mention Mary Lovell's The Sisters. Yes, everyone who mentioned how good it is is right--it is a book that is hard to put down once you start reading. I love biographies like this. Lovell completely brings to life the various family members and world of the Mitford family (am currently in 1917--the family is still young and growing). She's an engaging "storyteller" (is that what biographers are?) and I am fascinated by the subjects and the anecdotes she shares. I usually drag my feet when the author feels the need to reach back into family history and give all the dirt (let's get on to the main event I always think), but the Mitford parents are almost more interesting than the daughters. I am trying to finish Patrick Leigh Fermor before officially starting a new nonfiction book, but I will be reading this in earnest very soon.
And a couple of upcoming reading notes--while I really do intend to concentrate on my own book stacks and reading plans in 2011, I can't pass up a Virago Reading Week that Rachel at Book Snob and Carolyn at A Few of My Favorite Books are organizing for late next month. Seeing as I have a number of unread Viragos that have been waiting patiently for me, and this would bea great opportunity to choose more books from my own shelves, I plan on joining in. The anticipation of choosing something to read. Dare I go look now? If that isn't enough Virago goodness for you, check out Virago Press's new website and blog. The good news is they are putting together a Virago Book Club, which I have signed up for (well, signed up for the newsletter anyway). I'll be looking forward to seeing which titles they choose to read and hope to read along when I can.
But first, plenty of other books to turn my attention towards. I think I'll go spend some time with a book or two.