Monday, February 05, 2007

Falling in Love with Books

One of the reasons that I love reading so much is that feeling of being totally swept up in the world of the novel. My fondest memories of childhood are of reading, and of being so engrossed in a novel that I could read almost anywhere- on the school bus, over breakfast, under the bedsheets with a torch. As an adult reading has sometimes become a more analytical process; reading for university courses, reading as a teacher, and reading novels that I should read but don't necessarily love with a passion.

Lately, though, I've had a couple of wonderful reading experiences that remind me of those adolescent bookish obsessions. The novel I'm reading at the moment, I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith, has me totally hooked. I bought this one partly for school (it's a classic YA novel) but am totally won over. The narrator is utterly endearing and the world she creates is vivid and fascinating. Although it was written in 1949, it doesn't seem to have dated much at all and is, in fact, surprisingly open-minded about lots of issues. Plus it had me laughing out loud in public today. And I can't put it down, I had to drag myself away just to write this!

The other book that I have passionately loved recently is very different to I Capture the Castle. JM Coetzee's novel, Disgrace, has an unlikeable middle-aged academic as its central character. It takes place in South Africa and deals with some of the complex problems that that country faces today. It's a confronting read- there is a brutal attack at the core of the novel- but the elegance and power of Coetzee's writing made this compelling reading for me. Coetzee describes family relationships, particularly between the central character and his adult daughter, with genuine insight and originality. I read Disgrace in one sitting and felt completely wrapped up in Coetzee's world.

I am loving this run of great books and hoping it continues. I'll be reading lots of blogs for more good recommendations and would love to hear about anyone else's recent literary love affairs...

5 comments:

Dorothy W. said...

I've never read Coetzee but I know I will need to sometime! Disgrace seems like a good place to start.

kimbofo said...

I've just mooched a copy of I Capture the Castle so am looking forward to reading it...

I have just finished reading Niall Williams' Only Say The Word -- a truly delicious book!

acquisitionist said...

I was blown away recently when I read Mishima's Spring Snow a sensual novel of an impossible aristocratic love affair. I enjoyed Disgrace also.

Kaz said...

Hey Jess...longtime reader, first time writer! Thought I would add my two cents... at the moment I'm reading Peter Hoeg's "Miss Smilla's Feeling for Snow". Am absolutely engrossed and loving it completely. Smilla is one of the most whole characters I've read in a long time, in that she is flawed and frustrating, embarrassing and so independent it's hard to deal with but it's what springs her into life off the page. Have found it hard to get into my books recently, I have a habit of falling asleep on the bus on my way home while I'm trying to read my book, mainly because I'm working early shifts at the moment, which means I get up at 4am! Not good for my reading... I have Sarah Walters' "Night Watch" waiting for me on the bedside table. Have heard it's excellent. Keep on writing and hope the new abode and school are going well! xxxx

jess said...

Thanks for all the great reading ideas everyone!

Kimbofo, I look forward to your thoughts on 'I Capture the Castle'. I've finished it now and just loved it.

Kaz, excellent to hear from you! I liked 'Miss Smilla...' too but read it so long ago that I can't remember why.