Monday, January 23, 2012

Readers' Choice Challenge #1: Bonkers, Brilliant, Rubbish

To the Lighthouse was all three. (Why those terms? More on my latest obsession below.)

Beloved readers, I think you may be a bit bonkers for loving this one so much. Yes, there are moments when the language is absolutely brilliant, but getting there, oh my god, such a chore. I did love the “Time Passes” interlude where I thought the poetic language really fit the image of an abandoned summer house; however, for a whole novel, language isn’t enough for me, I really need either character or plot. Yes, I know, I’m demanding that way.

Also, isn’t Virginia Woolf supposed to be feminist? I wanted to slap all these women and tell them to get over it already. I realize I’m reading this work from a privileged twenty-first-century position, but really, I sympathized with no one here (except maybe James, who had to wait ten frakking years to get to the lighthouse already).

“It was done; it was finished. Yes, she thought, laying down her brush in extreme fatigue, I have had my vision.”

Yup, that last line pretty much sums it up. Thanks, Virginia.

Honestly, I would have abandoned this one on the rubbish heap if it hadn’t been part of this year’s challenge. So, I guess I thank you for picking it since I do think I needed to try Woolf at least one more time after my disastrous encounter in high school. I guess we can definitely say that modernists and me are unmixy things. Next up, Lolita! That should go very well. (I kid. I already read the first few pages and think it will go just fine.)

Speaking of which, the Goodreads voters have spoken and there are a number of you who would like to start a longer-term read of Middlemarch in February (easily beating out War and Peace, so that will be deferred until the second half of the year). Second place in the voting went to “Are you kidding?! I’m not even attempting those.” Slackers.*

If you are a new or lapsed reader and wondering what the heck I’m talking about, you can see recent posts about this year’s challenge and our Goodreads group here.

Finally, in other reading news, I have discovered a new books podcast out of the U.K. that I absolutely love: The Readers. This weekly podcast is basically two guys with fairly divergent tastes nattering about books and book news, with various guest appearances by authors and other bloggers. It is incredibly funny and informative and I highly recommend it. I must admit, I have a bit of a podcast crush on both of them and am suddenly finding my conversation littered with various exclamations including “bonkers,” “brilliant,” and “rubbish.” Between his love of Rebecca and his hatred of the Kindle, I have a slight preference for Simon (sorry, Gav!), but I’m sure you will find things to love about both of them and the topics they discuss. There have been 17 episodes since early October and all are available on iTunes. As a completist, I naturally think you must start with episode one and listen to them all, but if you must cherry-pick, try episode seven if you like Sherlock Holmes, episode eight if you like Ann and Michael of Books on the Nightstand (which, as you may remember, I already recommended way back when), or episode 13, the Boxing Day year-in-review special. Seriously, check them out.

Note: For future reference, I can’t see who voted for what, but I’ll try to make at least general results visible to everybody for next time, I just couldn’t go back and edit the poll once it started.


Stasia said...

Oh, how I love reading your book commentary! Wish I could join the challenge but I'm on what feels like an eternal quest to PRODUCE more words which leaves stunningly little time for reading them. #feels-so-wrong!

Sylvie said...

Thank you! You of all people would appreciate The Readers I think. And, come to think of it, maybe some of the boys too. Gav is big on Sci Fi/Fantasy and so it comes up a lot.