Making up for lost time


About 6 weeks ago, I dove headfirst into a work project that allowed me little personal time. Even if I didn’t have to work all night, I felt so burned out from 70-hour weeks that it was easier to just watch TV than do much reading.

But the project is over now, so I’m finally free to read again. In fact, I feel like I’m finally able to be my true self after a long absence. To read is to recharge and reconnect and remember that which is most important to me.

Now my problem is that I’m overcompensating, biting off way more than I can chew with nine books to peruse every night. But it’s a luxurious problem to have. Here’s what I’m making my way through now:

Michael Palin: Diaries 1980-1988 (Halfway to Hollywood)

I started this in January and read about a month’s worth of entries every night. It’s hugely enjoyable, but reminds me that I’m much more a fan of Palin’s early work (Monty Python) and late work (travel shows), and maybe not so fond of this middle period.

The Letters of Virginia Woolf: Volume Two (1912-1922)

I also started this in January and also read about a month’s worth of letters every night. It’s witty, observant and, as always for this Woolfian, deeply rewarding. However, if there were a truncated volume two, which keeps everything the same but omits the multitude of letters to Vanessa about her servant situation, I advise you snap it up.

Beatrix Potter: The Complete Tales

I may have read this as a child, but since I wasn’t from a reading kind of family, I suspect not. As a big fan of @herdyshepherd1, though, and after a spectacular visit to Yorkshire last summer, it seemed as good a time as any to give them a try.

Women’s Hebrew Poetry on American Shores: Poems by Anne Kleiman and Annabelle Farmland (translated by Adriana X. Jacobs and Yosefa Raz)

Translator Adriana Jacobs is a good friend so I bought this as an effort to support her work. However, knowing little of Hebrew poetry, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I’m only 40 pages into Kleiman’s portion, but love her bold, powerful, raging voice.

Lyric Poems by John Keats

After watching the ridiculous but deeply moving London Spy, I’ve been on a huge Ben Whishaw kick. This led me to Bright Star, a Jane Campion film in which he plays John Keats to great effect. His sensitive, impassioned performance made me dig out the only Keats book I have.

Chocolate and Cuckoo Click: the Essential Alan Coren

As a David Mitchell fan, I’ve been curious about the Coren family, but I don’t get to see much of Victoria on American shores – just a couple of episodes of QI, mostly. But I caught some of Alan Coren’s Cricklewood radio shows on BBC Radio 4 Xtra a few months ago and loved its gentle, warm, funny tone. This is the perfect book for my commute to and from work.

The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath

I’ve never read Plath before, which is remarkable considering the Anne Sexton phase I went through about 20 years ago. I didn’t know what to expect, but I love its first 30 pages – like a feminine version of Catcher in the Rye.

Hamlet by William Shakespeare

Well, I mean. Hamlet is my favorite work, but I haven’t actually read it in over 20 years. (I have, however, seen Benedict Cumberbatch’s, Ralph Fiennes’ and Kevin Kline’s versions live; watched Olivier’s and David Tennant’s version; and listened to Kenneth Branagh’s reading of it multiple times. David Tennant’s is emphatically my favorite.)

Swann’s Way by Marcel Proust

Having never read Proust before, I was eager to follow #ProustAlong. Unfortunately, it started exactly when my heavy workload kicked in. One night, after I read the same paragraph 6 times and could not only not remember what I’d read, but could no longer remember what came before it, I put it to the side. I may resume again soon.




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