Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Reading Stuffs

Since we all agree that reading is about the top most important thing you can do to improve your writing (besides actually'd be surprised how many people just complain about not being good writers and never write anything.), and since I (at least) am always on the look-out for good books, I thought I'd give you a quick look into what I've been reading in days of yore:

1066 and All That
W.C. Sellar and R.J. Yeatman

The best way to describe this book is as the books describes itself:
"Histories have previously been written with the object of exalting their authors. The object of this History is to console the reader. No other history does this. History is not what you thought. It is what you can remember. All other history defeats itself."
Here is an example from Chapter VII entitled: "Lady Windermere. Age of Lake Dwellers":
Alfred had a very interesting wife named Lady Windermere (The Lady of the Lake), who was always clothed in the same white frock, and used to go bathing with Sir Launcelot (also of the Lake) and was thus a Bad Queen..."
So as you can see, if you aren't particular as to the exact precision of your historical facts, 1066 and All That is a rather wonderful little history--quite easy to understand. I have my brother's fellow flat-tenant to thank for introducing me to this peculiar book when I was attempting to flip him over to becoming an A.A. Milne fan.

I am currently in the process of reading my very first G.K. Chesterton book which happens to be a novel I was given for my birthday.
By G.K. Chesterton

"A puddle repeats infinity, and is full of light; nevertheless, if analyzed objectively, a puddle is a piece of dirty water spread very thin on mud." -Manalive
Though I am not very far into the book, Manalive seems to be in a class entirely of its own. It appears, thus far, to be an allegorical novel about a boarding-house of pessimists who encounter an incurable optimist in the form of Innocent Smith and think him rather mad. I have enjoyed the book though I am eager to see where on earth it trots off to. It is a strange novel but pleasant, and goes nothing at all like you'd think it would...last I left Innocent Smith he'd just been arrested under charges of being a terribly dangerous criminal...just as he was off to get a marriage-license too. Very strange. But attractive, somehow.

The Covenant
by Beverly Lewis

By now you know exactly how I feel about romance novels--the Amish ones in particular. I kind of sneer at them mentally, which isn't exactly fair when you calculate how few I've read. My sister-in-law-ish Abigail took it into her wicked little head that it'd be a fine idea to order the entire Abram's Daughters series for my birthday. She did, and laughed like a little she-devil when I opened them and groaned helplessly. But for her sake (and as an experiment in modern literature) I began to read and found nothing sneer-worthy in the novels. Exasperated, I admitted to Abigail that the first in the series, The Covenant, was not all fluff. Delicate topics were handled with a clean sweetness hard to find in most romance books, and I found myself curious as to what the second novel will hold. Darn Abigail's mushrooms--she might have the last laugh yet!

Eats Shoots and Leaves
By Lynn Truss

All I can say is that this book has been on my To Read list for quite some time, as I'd heard that is is a remarkable little volume that packs a whole lot of grammatical punch. I bought it as my yearly Birthday Present To Me at the little college book-store in Northern Virginia as a helpful clerk looked on and wondered why the array of Chesterton, Lewis, and Tolkien entranced me so. I set to work with my feet propped up on one of Daniel's co-workers' desks and cracked the cover. So far, I've been amused, blushing, and feeling guilt-ed into good grammar...not exactly what I was expecting, but still helpful. You just kinda get the sense that you're disappointing some strict grammarian somewhere in the universe every time you use a superfluity of commas or misplaced apostrophe. But you know, if you want to correct your grammar dead or alive, this book certainly makes you aware of key danger-spots, habits you'll want to break, and just how important punctuation really is. I have definitely found myself laughing over some of her examples and I am glad I bought this book even if it is a bit more of a rant than an instructional. 
"If you persist in writing 'Good food at it's best', you deserve to be struck by lightening, hacked up on the spot and buried in an unmarked grave." -Eats Shoots and Leaves
So these are the tomes taking up my attention at the moment (or recently finished). Several more line the wall of my Lair waiting to be placed on the shelves, and my birthday is not finished being celebrated so there is still a prospect of more to come. What can I say? The life of a book-lover always has room for more!


Elisabeth Grace Foley said...

I loved Eats, Shoots & Leaves, partly because it was the first book that made me clearly understand just how punctuation was supposed to work, and partly because it lent validation to my inward agonies over the misplaced and omitted apostrophes everywhere about me. :) I can see how people's response to the style would depend on individual taste, but for me it was immensely helpful!

1066 And All That sounds kind of like Jane Austen's History of England—have you ever read that? I've read all of Chesterton's Father Brown mysteries, but haven't attempted any of his other works yet.

Rachel Heffington said...

I haven't read Austen's H of E but I have wanted to for so long and this did bring it to mind.
And rest assured: I am enjoying the lessons in grammar- I just don't think I'm quite as much of a stickler as many people, which is a failing, maybe. ;)