Summer classics from the bookshelf

Inspired by Literary Minded’s ‘20 Classics in 2011‘ project I’ve used it as a springboard to get around to an item long on my to do list. That’s right, read those classics. You see despite many that know me assuming I came from an arts background I flipped from arts to science come VCE (year 11/12 or high school senior years for those not from these parts). I put aside my paint brushes, charcoal, silk screens, sewing needles, history and language books two-thirds of the way through high school and switched to maths/science. Don’t ask. I still don’t understand all this time later. So yes, this meant I missed out on the fun subjects offered in those final years. I never did English Literature for one and lets face it – the more interesting choice of reading material (back when I was in school anyway) was saved for the literature class, not the standard English class.

So here I am, with almost twenty years having passed and I’m finally going to pick up some of those books I never got around to. I imagine my summer reading list will be a little haphazard. A mixture of books I did read (but oh so long ago) and some I wish I had. Others I see on high school and university book lists and get a little pang for, wishing I’d studied them. More still I found at second-hand stores and bought full of good intention; they made it to the bookshelf but never the bedside table. This I hope shall be the summer to fix that! Then there’s also the library. My local library is amazing and the cube of my bookshelf dedicated to library borrowing is always overflowing.

I’ll add my list as I go and I expect the project will continue once the summer is over at a slower pace when free time more scarce, but the loose plan is to aim for one book a week while the heat of summer is here to encourage me to hide under a shady tree, in a lovely park, with a good book and a cold drink. Ambitious yes. I foresee I rewrite to this plan quite quickly but for now let’s swing with it.

The rules, loosely speaking, are this: the book is to preferably come from the bookshelf, if not the local library or a friend’s bookshelf. One of the points of this pursuit was to remove the dust gathering on these neglected classics on the bookshelf.

The first classic I’ve picked from the shelf is A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man by James Joyce. I’ve not read it before and it’s one I picked up at a local second-hand bookstore in the last six months or thereabouts. I’m aware that Joyce’s prose can make getting into the book a little more challenging but this is one of the classics I’ve long wondered why it’s taken me so long to pick up, hence top of the list for no other reason that it sprung out at me from the bookshelf demanding to be read.

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Before I begin I need to finish the book I’m currently wandering the streets with, miraculously not bumping into poles and other people, while my head is propped downward reading. I’m a little too attached to We Need To Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver. No discussion of the film please, I won’t be seeing it until the book is complete.

The idea with this project is not simply to read the books but also write something about them once they’re read. So in that wonderful universe where all things go to plan (i.e. not the one I’m currently filling) there could actually be regular weekly blog posts about books I’ve devoured. Note: take this paragraph lightly. I shall attempt to keep to my plan of reading and writing regularly. I am after all doing this both by choice and for pleasure – what could possibly go wrong?

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Out of Tune – Mojave 3

I love this album. It’s remained a constant favourite but always gets its biggest work out during or near the warmer months. It has that feeling for me, that feeling of not so much summer but holidays, space, openness. I often take it with me in the car when I’m doing a lengthy solo drive. Just me, the car, a long straight road. Big sky, ocean or endless fields. That’s what I see in my head anyway. I’m more than happy to stick it on repeat and get lost in the audio and the air it creates.

I was surprised on checking the cover to find a 1998 date on the album. It don’t recall it being that old, or is that part of its appeal? Even when it was fresh and new it already felt of another time and place and had the power to transport you there, so its age is of little consequence.

Soak up some goodness.

Help! I’m melting, it must be my birthday.

I’ll start with an apology. It’s my birthday so if you feel the need to blame anyone for this savage heat, I’m here.

I don’t wish for the heat but for as long as I recall it’s been (pleasant) hot, or just plain HOT on my birthday.

As a kid we usually had water fights as part of my birthday party (a pre-drought childhood, those were the days). My school-day birthdays were also back when Victoria still had 3 school terms, so it was always school holidays. (This was a good thing in case you’re confused.)

Last year it was in the upper half of the thirties and I’m fairly sure that the year before saw a 45+ day (celsius, not fahrenheit).

So yes, you may as well pop it in your calendar now. No matter how distant any signs of Summer are throughout December and January come the 30th of January expect heat!