Thursday, 20 November 2014

The Pleasure of Reading

Today I visited the library in Overijse for the first time. I wanted to check whether they had any books in English. And...yes, they did. Also in French, Spanish, Italian and German. The choice was quite interesting with a mixture of new, old and classics. There are many books there that I can borrow. I started with two books by Jean Rhys;Wide Sargasso Sea about the 'mad woman in the attic' in Jane Eyre. This is the story about her life in Jamaica before and after meeting Mr Rochester. The other book is Voyage in the Dark. I don't know so much about this book but it sounds interesting.

A brief liaison with a kindly but unimaginative man leads Anna to abandon the theatre and drift into the demi-monde of 1914 London: red-plush dinners in private rooms 'up West'; ragtime, champagne and whisky back at the flat; these, and a discreet tinkle of sovereigns in the small hours pave the way to disaster...
Jean Rhys lived in Paris in the 1920s where she met the bohemian crowd surrounding Hemingway and Maddox Ford. I have to go back to my Paris books to see if she is mentioned.

Connections , Coincidence and Inspirations

I have decided not to participate in too many challenges in the near future. Although they are very interesting and it is interesting to hear other participants view, I feel somehow 'stuck'. Therefor I will choose books by coincidence, meaning that the reading of one book will give something that connect you to another book. It can be the mentioning of an author, a book, a place or whatever connection you find there. This is for example what happened when I read the 'Introduction' to Wide Sargasso Sea when it mentioned the Paris years for the writer. It immediately took me back to the books I have read about that time and books I still have to read. Of course it also leads you directly to Charlotte Brontë's Jane Eyre.

The first connection starts with The Hare with Amber Eyes. There were several paths to follow. Two writers were mentioned, Joseph Roth and Stefan Zweig. I have read several blogs about them during the German Litt Month. The story gives you anything you would like to read about European history and the two World Wars, about Vienna and Paris and so on. Since I have to choose (this is my own rule, but I can now add library books as well) books from my TBR shelves in order to read them. There always seems to be more books coming in than going to my 'read shelves'. So, the inspiration from this wonderful book lead me to a book about the city of Odessa. I have a wonderful non-fiction book about the city by Charles King; Genius and Death in a City of Dreams - Odessa. The connection to the other book being that the Ephrussi family came from there.

Knowing myself I will read other books simultaneously as well, but I will still try to let one book inspire me to read another and this one to another...!


  1. I always enjoy reading your posts. I google place name that you mention. Your book choices sound interesting. I think I have Wild Sargasso Sea on my shelves somewhere in my Penguin collection. We are planning on visiting Belgium on holiday next year as we have never been. Happy reading.

  2. The de Waal book is so rich - so many connections to pursue. I am reading one of them right now, another book about pottery, actually, Christopher Benfey's Red Brick, Black Mountain, White Clay, which in turn leads to all kinds of other connections.

  3. You are right that the de Waal book really is rich in connections. Sounds great with the pottery book. Would be interesting to hear where you go from there?
    The Odessa book also gives a lot of connections: Potemkin (of which I already read a wonderful book by Simon Sebag Montefiore) Catherine the Great (read several about her), Pushkin and Gogol, the Ottomans. Yes, there are a lot. I have to wait and see what I can find in my book case.