Earlier this week, Simon from Stuck in a Book challenged the book blogging world to select and post a picture that sums up our reading tastes. The picture cannot actually have a book in it, so no fair posting a picture of your bookcase! I scoured through my vacation photos and found one that strikes me as a great representation of the kinds of books I read:
This is a photo of the priory ruins at Bolton Abbey, just outside the town of Skipton in North Yorkshire. It’s a lovely spot, but how does this photo encapsulate my reading?
- Beauty. The setting of this photo is beautiful, and I love books with beautiful writing.
- Sense of history. I love books written in the past, books set in the past, and books that in some way feel connected to history.
- Sadness. This photo is of a ruin, and there’s a sense of loss when looking at a ruin. I have nothing against a happy book, but most of my favorites contain some feeling of tragedy or melancholy.
- Hope. Even though the Augustinian priory in the photo is now a ruin, the church remains. (It’s there under the flag.) I like a tragedy, but relentless tragedy with no sense of hope would be too much. Even a glimmer, such as you see in this photo, can make a tremendous difference.
- Spirituality. This is, of course, a religious site, and not all of my reading is related to my faith, but I do love books that have a connection to something bigger, something beyond the world we can see.
Obviously, this single picture cannot capture everything I like in a book, and not every book I enjoy contains the qualities I mention above. Still, this comes pretty close to depicting the mood and tone of a huge chunk of my reading.
Want more? Check out Simon’s round up of other answers to this challenge. If you’re feeling inspired, give it a try yourself!
In other news: This Tuesday, I’ll be sharing a few favorite books in Kim’s Triple Choice Tuesday feature at Reading Matters. Do come check it out!
Notes from a Reading Life
- The Summer Tree by Guy Gavriel Kay. I ended up so unimpressed with this overly complex fantasy that I’m uncertain about reading the rest of the trilogy.
- Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut (audio). Brilliant writing, interesting ideas, but not, in the end, a favorite for me.
- The Oracles by Pati Navalta Poblete. An enjoyable memoir of the cultural and generational gaps between a granddaughter and her Filipino grandparents.
- The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet by David Mitchell. A LibraryThing Early Review book and my first David Mitchell. I’ve read about 100 pages, and I’m enjoying it so far.
- Case Histories by Kate Atkinson (audio). I laughed out loud twice in the first 15 minutes of listening to this! What a way to start a mystery… really excited to see where it ends up.
- Jude the Obscure by Thomas Hardy (reread). Just over 100 pages left. May finish this week.
- Waiting for God by Simone Weil. A collection of Weil’s essays and letters that I’m working through slowly. Reading just one or two selections each week.
- A Kierkegaard Anthology. A collection of writings spanning Kierkegaard’s career. We discussed Kierkegaard briefly in my modern theology class this year, and I’m interested in learning more.
On My Radar
- Picnic at Hanging Rock by Joan Lindsay. I really enjoyed the film Picnic of Hanging Rock for its weirdness and ambiguity, but I had no idea it was a book until I saw this review at Caroline Bookbinder. Carin said this Australian classic, “had hints of Muriel Spark and Henry James.”
- The Vet’s Daughter by Barbara Comyns. Claire of Paperback Reader, Polly of Novel Insights, and Simon of Stuck-in-a-Book just did an informal readalong of this novel about a girl growing up with a domineering father and a sickly mother, and the accumulated weight of their positive reviews put it on my list. Claire called it “enjoyable “but decidedly odd,” which is an apt description of a lot of very good books.
- The Rector’s Daughter by F.M. Mayor. Rachel of Book Snob called this novel about a thirtysomething spinster who finds love and disappointment “one of the most well written books I’ve ever read.”