Reading Journal for February
This was a slow month. I do a little freelance writing and I had a contract due, so I was off polishing it. Also, Skyrim DLC exists.
So, this month:
Shards of Honor by Lois McMaster-Bujold
I’ve been aware of the Vorkosigan series for a while as one I’d probably like if I started it, and this month I happened to see what a website had mistakenly informed me was the first book (if you are reading by internal chronology) in Overdrive. It’s an interesting read, half romance novel, half sci-fi. I was not absolutely gripped by it, but its certainly enough to get me to come back for Barrayar, the second books in the series. The Library Service doesn’t have it, so I asked our Interlibrary Loan people to find it for me as the last half of Cordelia’s Honor.
Sappho: A New Rendering (by Sappho and Ovid)
It’s hard to like Sappho. I know, I know, I’m being horrible. She’s an early feminist icon and she was a great poet and all of that sort of thing, but we have only one poem of hers in complete form, and the rest of the fragments have been so deeply mined by other poets that its hard to see where she’s being original. Sure, the first time someone said that moonlight was like silver that was mindblowing stuff…and it may well have been her, but her metaphors are tired now, and her work is so fragmentary that I can’t see it as more than the leftover choppings of the Romantic poets. A great read, but hard to find an audience to recommend it to.
Books I started and chose not to finish
Pictures from Italy by Charles Dickens
I’ve defended Dickens in the past in our book coasters stoushes on his work, and this time, I’m just raising the white flag and walking off. He does love life to be dreary. The bit that finally killed the book for me was when he describes Genoa and gives as its best feature a pciturequely-crumbling ruin. You, as listener, become absolutely certain that what he wants is to be the hero in a post-apocalyptic novel.
The Florentine Codex
There are some books which are too excellent to read quickly : this is one. I don’t have the time to grapple with something this awesome, so it’ll go back on the shelf and wait for another time. The Florentine Codex was written by a friar who saw that the Spanish were going to utterly destroy the Aztec culture, and so decided to record everything he could. His sparse prose, and perhaps misunderstanding of what he’s seeing, creates something almost like desptaches from the first contact with a civilisation so alien that it thinks ripping out people’s hards is not only necessary, but morally virtuous. Engrossing to the point where I know I need to just leave it alone if I hope to get anything else done in my free time for the next few weeks.