It’s been a tough week here down at the old Rune stead with not a lot of reading getting done. I have parked a snail on top of my TBR pile – a glass one, not a real one. He’s there to represent the speed at which I am coursing through my list at the moment. And can someone please tell me why – apart from the fact that we need the water – does it have to rain all the time so that the stuck at home-ness becomes even more oppressive!
This week I have been playing my harp which I do slowly and far from expertly but the great thing about the harp as an instrument is that even when you mess up it still sounds ok.
I have also been exercising in my local park which is next the river Thames. I am watching a family of Canada Geese – at the moment the geese are keeping me sane. Thank you geese. Unlike me, they never seem to miss the tide. The tiny fluffy goslings became teenagers very quickly.
We are having to realise our place and how we disturb the balance in the ecosystem now – more than ever. Having to recognise that we are part of the whole nature thing, not dominant over it. I firmly believe that the massive increases we have seen in the last decades of mental health issues (the silent pandemic) are directly connected to breakdown of the biosphere and our destruction of the environment.
Anyway, to the books. This year again I am taking part in the 20 books of Summer challenge
Hosted by Cathy@746Books – thank you Cathy – my 20 books of Summer is roughly 10 books at the moment. I don’t know what the other ten will be yet, but they will come into focus hopefully.
Those paying close attention will know that I have already read Tea Obreht’s The Tiger’s Wife (!!) but I do not consider this cheating. I’m including it because I have read it since 1st June which is when the challenge started and we have until September 1st to read the others. Some of these books I have already committed to over the same period as part of my Women’s Prize for Fiction shortlist reading commitment. Adichie’s Half of a Yellow Sun is such a tough read I am balancing it with some hopeful things including Daisaku Ikeda’s excellent collection of essays Hope is a Decision (Middleway Press, 2017).
I have read Richard Powers The Overstory but would like to read it again. It is a book which recognises how humans are abusing their place in the universe. There are no doubt many of those – regrettably I can’t get to them all but happy to take suggestions. Powers’ book probably does this as well as any. But its also true to say that the poets got there first. I think fiction writers have been late to this particular, gloomy party.
I am waiting for a copy of Ash before Oak written by Jeremy Cooper and published by the excellent Fitzcarraldo Editions. I have another of their books on my list too – Grove by Esther Kinsky (translated by Caroline Schmidt) which I have started reading and which drips atmosphere and yearning from every page of its lyrical prose.
Of Ash before Oak the publisher’s blurb says:
Ash before Oak is a novel in the form of a fictional journal written by a solitary man on a secluded Somerset estate. Ostensibly a nature diary, chronicling the narrator’s interest in the local flora and fauna and the passing of the seasons, Ash before Oak is also the story of a breakdown told slantwise, and of the narrator’s subsequent recovery through his reengagement with the world around him.
I am proud that I have avoided a single purchase during lockdown from certain online giants who shall remain nameless. However I found a book by Janie Chang called The Library of Legends on Tomorrow is Another Day and downloaded that onto my kindle because it sounded sweet and comforting and it is so far.