Wednesday, 1 February 2012

February Reading. . .

I've been in the reading doldrums recently.  Partly it's because I've been spending all my spare time on knitting projects.  But as a book rep, at this time of year, I need to dip into the first chapters of a lot of different manuscripts in order to get a feel for the book to help me in my selling appointments, and this type of scattered and unfinished reading always feels rushed and unsatisfying.

But I'm going to turn it all around this month.  Usually I get my reading mojo back by turning to the classics, and listening to the radio this morning, I heard about a terrific idea for an online bookclub.   Check out the City Builder Book Club which over the next few months will be facilitating a group read of Jane Jacobs' The Death and Life of Great American Cities, in order to discuss how cities work.  The reading pace is very reasonable with just two chapters a week.  Sign me up - this book has been on my reading pile for ages and as a proud Torontonian, I'm actually embarrassed that I haven't yet read it, although I have read some of her other books.  No excuse now.

I was lucky enough to have a lovely conversation with Jane Jacobs several years ago.  I picked her up to drive her to an event at the University of Toronto where she was participating in a celebration of the Modern Library.  She'd just written an introduction to Dickens' Hard Times and though the drive was short we had a wonderful chat about the power of literature to change social policy, touching of course on Dickens but also Upton Sinclair (she'd also written an intro to The Jungle).  Oh, she was such a delightful woman.

Then I got to thinking about Dickens.  The literary world is of course celebrating the 200th anniversary of his birth this year with all sorts of read-a-longs, reappraisals, exhibits and just general joy.  I've been meaning to pick up some Dickens myself and as his birthday is February 7th, this is the month to do it. I want to tackle one of the novels I haven't previously read, so I've scanned the shelves and have settled on The Old Curiosity Shop.  Really looking forward to it.

Right, that's February's reading sorted.  Now, if I could only work out how to read and knit at the same time.


Audrey said...

Audiobooks! :)

Blithe Spirit said...

I've tried them, but I can't stay connected. I do love listening to plays on audio - maybe I just need a multiple cast of different voices to keep my attention.

Thomas at My Porch said...

The Jane Jacobs is a brilliant book. And it was a seminal book in getting urban planners to rethink some pretty horrific ideas.