I should probably receive 3 hours of undergraduate credit for my summer reading list. I read a bunch of books and wrote papers on them, right? All that is missing from the perfect summer school course is the final paper. I suppose I’ve requested and been granted an extension.
What I learned (reading) on my summer vacation:
I like books. A lot. I missed reading for pleasure. Reading for pleasure is this state where you get to sit up in bed at night, propped on pillows and read until it’s way past your bedtime and you don’t have to take notes or flag passages or draft analytical arguments. I enjoy the picaresque (a category into which Lamb falls, I would argue)–the picaresque is the precursor of the road movie and it makes for a great read. The unreliable narrator remains my favorite. If I could, I’d make everyone I know read Günter Grass’ The Tin Drum and revel in the beauty of a narrative told by a guy in prison. My reading list didn’t include any examples of the genre, although Glass Soup did give the pleasant readerly sensation of not quite knowing where to find your footing that I like so much. I like a literary puzzle when I can get my hands on one.
I was surprised at myself for not enjoying Salinger’s Franny and Zooey more. Nice enough but just too dated for me to enjoy. Which makes no sense, of course, since I specialize in nineteenth-century historical fiction. And the Vonnegut book, which also explores a very specific moment in time, remains timeless and awesome and rocked my world. And we shall not speak of William Faulkner again, sorry. I am sure there are countless blogs run by English majors and their ilk where you can read and talk about Bill all you want.
Thematically–I loves me some crazy. I may never have found Mariette in Ecstasy or The Master and Margarita on my own and I’m very glad I read them both. The Master is a heady book, and I haven’t read nearly enough Russian literature, I’m sure. Mariette is that book I might have bought on the remainder table and read secretly, because stories of young women and religious ecstasy are so. . . interesting, weird, romantic, . . . something.
I think the most important result of my long summer reading list is that I don’t want to stop. I have work reading to do–always–including a big ole pile of articles on my desk right now and the prospect of a 4-volume cultural history of Germany in my near future. But on my nightstand? The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde. Yummmmmmy. I read this when I was 17 and I read it in German (it didn’t make much sense then, either). Beauty and the soul and Wilde’s vicious wit. And, as a bonus: I think a German writer in whom I have some interest used Dorian Gray in her portrait of a young lady going insane.
What are you reading?