31 July 2012

July Unbookening

"Libraries are always paradoxical: they are as personal as the collector, and at the same time are an ideal statement of knowledge that is impersonal, because it is universal, abstract, and so much larger than an individual life." - James Wood

Got 3 books to review
Had 1 returned to me (who wants to borrow my copy of GONE GIRL next?)
Checked 8 out from the library
12 in

Lent 3
Returned 5 to the library
Donated 19 - 2 to the Saint Marks Little Free Library, the rest to Housing Works
27 out

Did I say four unread Henry James novels? I meant five. Yeah... five. I guess I know what I'll be doing in a few months. What's your favorite James? I've only read THE TURN OF THE SCREW so I have my work cut out for me.


Marjorie said...

Favorite James: PORTRAIT OF A LADY, hands-down, though I don't know if I'm allowed to say "favorite" when I've only read two of his novels. Still, I adored PORTRAIT when I read it while studying abroad in England--in fact, I loved it so much that I've been scared to go back to James since then, for fear that I just won't like his other work as much and the spell will be broken.

Wade Garrett said...

I want to borrow your copy of Gone Girl next!

Ellen said...

Marjorie: It helps for sure, since that's one of the ones I have sitting around.

Wade: I will set it aside for you. I've already loaned it out twice - people just can't seem to put it down once they start.

The Madwoman said...

Re: Henry James -- I love the man but his famously prolix sentences take some getting used to.... And they become increasingly difficult and decidedly less plot-driven (some would say less interesting) as he enters his later phase, which most would define as encompassing THE AMBASSADORS, THE WINGS OF THE DOVE, and THE GOLDEN BOWL: whatever you do, I advise _against_ beginning your foray into the Jamesian novel with one of these; better to read them after you've got a sense for what he is trying to accomplish thematically, stylistically, etc....

Essentially, I second Marjorie's suggestion that you begin with THE PORTRAIT OF A LADY, which I think you will love given what I recall to be your affection for Wharton's THE HOUSE OF MIRTH, perhaps my all-time favorite American novel.....Not sure what exactly is sitting on your shelves, but in terms of novellas a la THE TURN OF THE SCREW, I highly recommend WHAT MAISIE KNEW and THE ASPERN PAPERS; another great place to start would be DAISY MILLER -- a nice, short complement to PORTRAIT.

ARGH. Re-reading the above, I realize that I sound like the English grad student that I am..... Sigh. Oh well. I guess I ought to be grateful that my arcane knowledge has some social utility. Anyway, in closing, I love your blog; it helps me remember why I love reading and why I am pursuing this degree.... (This can be easy to forget when one spends all day amidst chauvinists whacking off and taking about Shakespearean minutiae.) END RANT!!

Ellen said...

Chauvinists whacking off and talking about Shakespeare? Stop spying on my office! (Just kidding, Workplace.)

Thanks for your lovely comment. Feel to get as grad-studenty as you like... I have read DAISY MILLER -- not sure how I forgot that -- if I recall correctly, I liked it all right. But it sounds like PORTRAIT OF A LADY would be even more up my alley.

(Also, I just skimmed James' bibliography to see if I forgot about any other James books I had read. Holy productivity, Batman. How did he do it all?)