The true university these days is a collection of books.
-Thomas Carlyle

Wednesday, 31 August 2011

August Roundup

My apologies for my absence for a few weeks, I have been on holiday in Sweden and spent some of my time trekking these handsome beasts (picture from Spot Sweden). I stayed in a wonderful place called Kolarbyn, where you stay in small huts in the woods, and the moose safari was organised through Wild Sweden. Highly recommended as an unusual and very beautiful place to stay. I also visited a friend who lives there, had a few nights in a log cabin on a lake, and got quite a bit of reading done too.

Read - one and a quarter books

Completed - One Day by David Nichols

Currently Reading -

The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton

Watching the English: The Hidden Rules of English Behaviour by Kate Fox
The English Novel in History 1895 - 1920 by David Trotter

TBR Pile - currently at 110 (Gulp!) according to GoodReads, with 8 books added this month...

Thanks for the Memories by Cecilia Ahern

Night Road by Kristin Hannah

Trespass by Rose Tremain

The Brightest Star in the Sky by Marian Keyes

The Hireling by L P Hartley

The Bookseller of Kabul by Asne Seirstadt

The End of Mr Y by Scarlett Thomas

The Last Elf by Silvana de Mari

Challenges - with my 2 holidays and therefore being away for most of August I haven't managed much on the challenge front, including my Literary Theory book I have been making notes on. Hopefully I will be back up to speed with this in September. I have started The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton, #2 of my own challenges.

Wishlist Additions -

The Fish Can Sing by Halldor Laxness

Discoveries - Another good book blog I have discovered is Ready When You Are CB. Take a look at the link.

Events - The big event in August was this years Novel Holiday, Thomas Hardy and lovely Dorset for a week.

Not strictly a literary event, but the holiday in Sweden included a stay in woodland that was straight out of every fairy story that I read when I was a child. The kind of woodland thick with trees, moss covering the floor, quiet, mysterious, and full of mushrooms.

The year is turning, September is on its way...

Monday, 15 August 2011

Thomas Hardy holiday in Dorset

This years Novel Holiday took a group of 6 of us to Dorset to explore the haunts of Thomas Hardy while examining one of his novels - The Woodlanders. We also covered Tinkers by Paul Harding and On Chesil Beach by Ian McEwan.

The cottage here (courtesy of an article in the London Evening Standard about Hardy's Dorset) is where Hardy lived, in Higher Bockhampton during his early life, and it really is as beautiful as it appears. It is just over a week ago since we started our Hardy exploration and this was our first destination. Right on the edge of Puddletown Woods it was a really lovely start. I had total garden envy.We also went to Max Gate, the house he designed and where he spent his latter years, and also Stinsford Church where his heart is buried (his ashes are in Poets Corner in Westminster Cathedral in London). All of these locations were very close together, on the edge of Dorchester (Casterbridge in nis novels) and do-able in one day.

We had spent about an hour and a half discussing The Woodlanders the day before, while sitting in the late summer sunshine, in the garden of our holiday cottage in Netherbury. We talked about so many things, including 'Did Giles even deserve Grace?' to 'Romanticism or Darwinism in the descriptions of the Woods?'. Of course we also talked about whether we loved it or hated it, and whether we would read any more Hardy. We unanimously loved Marty, and were frustrated with Grace, many of us feeling she needed a good slap. A few of us also wanted to slap Giles, but most of us elicited a sigh when he was mentioned, especially when Rufus Sewell from the film came into it. Sigh! It was a lively discussion and a great book to talk about.

We also visited Chesil Beach and almost got blown away, it was so windy, but quite atmospheric. It was difficult to walk on the shingle and we all agreed that there was no way that Florence would manage to run far along it in the novel. We had talked it over in the conservatory that morning. Tinkers also provoked interesting debate, being both a vivid and also an ethereal read.

Of course we did many other things during the week...Mapperton Gardens, Cerne Abbas Giant and many lovely walks around Netherbury.

It was an excellent week, Dorset was totally beautiful, as was our lovely cottage in Netherbury, and we ate, drank and talked loads. My thanks to my friends who made it a brilliant week.

We are currently looking into possible locations for next year! So many to choose from...

Monday, 1 August 2011

July Roundup

Lovely Calendula flowers and so easy to grow. Their colour never fails to make me smile.

Time to recap everything bookish for July...

Read - 1 and a quarter books.

Completed - The Woodlanders by Thomas Hardy

Currently Reading -

One Day by David Nichols

Watching the English: The Hidden Rules of English Behaviour by Kate Fox

The English Novel in History 1895 - 1920 by David Trotter

TBR Pile - Currently at 102 (according to GoodReads) with one book added...

The Road by Cormac McCarthy

Challenges - made notes on chapters 10 and 11 from The English Novel in History 1895 - 1920 the literary theory book I am summarising each month. Look out for the next 2 chapters during August.

Wishlist Additions -

The Hearing Trumpet by Luis Bunuel

The Sentimentalists by Johanna Skibsrud

The Giver by Lois Lowry

I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith

Discoveries - lots of interesting things about The Woodlanders during my research for our Thomas Hardy literary holiday next week, some of which I will share when I post about it after I get home.

Events - Watching One Summer, the fantastic TV series from 1983, that I first saw when I was 14 and now have on DVD. Starring James Hazeldine, David Morrissey and Spencer Leigh it is probably the most influential TV series I have ever seen, and has not disappointed 28 years later.

Off to Dorset on friday, back the following week when I will let you know how all things Thomas Hardy went.

Hay on Wye

Hay on Wye