Saturday, May 11, 2013

Saturday 11 May

Blog Every Day in May - Book Love

This is such a tough one! I go through phases of reading a lot and not reading at all. When I don't read books, I read magazines. I always have something to read with me in bed, and specially in winter, when my old house never seems to warm up to a comfortable temperature, nothing much beats crawling into a warm bed with a hot water bottle and a good book.

I also read a real mixture of things. I know exactly what I like and don't like - no sci-fi, crime or autobiographies for me (the last one being a relatively recent discovery - not sure why but I cannot get into autobiographies, and believe me, I've tried!). On the whole I seem to prefer female authors, although again I don't know why that is. I like the odd chick-lit, but they have to be well-written. No glaring errors in chronology for me - it immediately stops me enjoying the book. Gosh, I'm fussy aren't I!

One book that really stood out for me recently was Tess of D'Urbervilles. At university I did a very new, experimental degree - within the faculty of Arts you could choose your own modules, thereby in effect making up your own degree. Of course there were a few rules, for example, we all started with a modern foreign language and we all had to take a philosophy module, but there was a lot of freedom. After two years, you had to choose a specialisation which again lasted two years and ensured you graduated with a degree that made you employable. As by then I had lived in Britain for 2 years, I chose English as my foreign language and took mostly language modules (speaking, reading, writing). I had very little interest in literature critique so I also took several linguistics modules and a few in modern literature. During my second year, a translation specialisation was started and because my English was quite fluent by then, I thought it'd be interesting to try that one. I enjoyed it more than I expected and twenty years down the line I'm still working as a translator.

So, in effect I graduated with an English degree without literature. It wasn't until fairly recently that I started to appreciate 'older' literature, and one that very much grabbed me was Tess. B. doesn't read much but often tells me about Far from the Madding Crowd, which he read for his O levels. I could never find it in the library but found Tess so read that one instead. Afterwards we watched two of the films that have been made. It's a book that is so beautifully written and yet so sad. One that feels very real and stays with you for a long, long time. And to me that is the sign of a good book.