Might as well dive right in, right? As always there are going to be many opportunities to read along this (and next) month. I've got a variety of books lined up to start in the coming weeks and am very much looking forward to them. A couple very short reads, one very long one and one that looks like a perfect January comfort read.
This month's postal reading group book is Eva Ibbotson's A Countess Below Stairs, a book (and author) who I have long wanted to try, so a lucky coincidence that it happened to arrive in the mail last month. This is the second postal book round I've participated in and it's been great fun. I wrote about the first round back in 2010, and this one will be coming to an end very soon. Only one more book to go and then the books will be going back to their owners. It's been a great way to discover new authors and broaden reading horizons. As for the Ibbotson, the blurb reads "from princess to lady's maid--she lost a title and fortune but gained the priceless treasure of true love." I had always thought Eva Ibbotson wrote for an adult market (and the older paperback I have is indeed an adult mass market edition), but I see that the new reissues of her work have been jacketed and marketed to a YA audience. A crossover author I suppose. Anyway it looks like a comfy armchair sort of read.
I'm a little apprehensive about Iain Pears's An Instance of the Fingerpost. It's Cornflower's February book group choice. It's a book I've long owned (and so a perfect choice as I begin working my way through my shelves and piles of unread books), but it is long. And it has really tiny print. As a reader I'm willing, but can I manage it is the question? I've heard it is a somewhat challenging read. I've not yet started it, and while discussion isn't until February 23, the sooner I crack it open the better, I think.
On the other hand there is Julia Strachey's Cheerful Weather for the Wedding, for which Simon is having a Cheerful Readalong, and is quite slim. It's all in anticipation of the forthcoming movie. If you click through the link you can see the trailer which Simon shared in his post (I love movies like that and it looks like a good one!). The plan is to read and write about during the last month of January.
I have to put in a good word for The Slaves of Golconda. Also at the very end of this month we'll be reading and chatting about Hjalmar Söderberg's Doctor Glas. Susan Sontag compared this to Balzac's Eugénie Grandet. "Stark, brooding and enormously controversial when first published in 1905, this astonishing novel juxtaposes impressions of fin-de-siècle Stockholm against the psychological landscape of a man besieged by obsession." Sounds good, don't you think? It should spark some good discussion. Feel free to readalong!
And first book up for the Literature and War Readalong is Kevin Powers's The Yellow Birds, which I have heard many good things about. It's about the war in Iraq, and while I don't normally like reading about such current events in fiction, I am very much looking forward to this one. Discussion is set for January 28.
Although I was thinking of swearing off reading challenges I do have to say I am quite tempted by Melwyk's Postal Reading Challenge. As someone who both loves epistolary novels and writing and receiving letters and postcards this is a challenge that is right up my alley. It's a year long challenge and sounds very laid back (also right up my alley), so I might have to join in after all. Am contemplating possible reads now.
As for my other reading . . .
I spent a leisurely afternoon yesterday reading the second of two novellas that recently arrived from Melville House (the next two should be coming soon). Early in my break I read Herman Melville's Bartleby the Scrivener. I had actually read it in high school--so long ago now that it was like reading it for the first time. It seemed perfect to begin the year with another novella, F. Scott Fitzgerald's May Day. Fitzgerald really evokes the era and I really enjoyed May Day. I think I need to read something else by him this year as well. I'll be writing about both novellas soon (as well as a few last books from December). I think I'm really going to enjoy reading Meville House's Art of the Novella series this year and may have to look into the form more (Hesperus Press also publishes novellas).
I've got lots of really good books underway on my night stand right now. The pile will increase by two as I had to choose one from the 2013 list. I've just barely started Kate O'Brien's The Last of Summer. I like the idea of reading about summer in the cold of winter. And I've been trying to decide which Canadian author/book to choose next. I've been doing well in the Canadian Reading Challenge. I'm up to six books out of 13, and I have until the end of June to finish the rest. Pretty good for someone who usually fails miserably when it comes to challenges. Another book sitting long on my reading pile is Andrea MacPherson's Beyond the Blue, which is set during WWI in a Scottish mill town. I am back in my WWI/Interwar reading mood so you might expect to hear about a lot of books from that era at the moment from me.
And a couple of bookish anniversaries. This is the bicentennial anniversary of the publication of Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice. Hmm. Maybe a reread is in order to mark the event? And June 2, 2013 will mark the 100th birthday of author Barbara Pym. Most definitely that will give me an excuse to pick up one of her unread books from my reading pile (and I've accumulated quite a few of her books). I suspect someone somewhere will organize a reading event or two around these anniversaries?
So, lots of good stories I'm really excited about reading--a good way to start the new year off!