I know it’s only the fourth of January and I haven’t been to work yet this year, but I do feel the year has been off to a good start. I’ve been crossing tasks off my list (okay, and adding to it too), most importantly of which was finally reorganizing my bookshelves. They’re not dramatically different, but I had a couple stacks of books sitting around that had never been shelved and I had to get a bit creative with my shelving so that they could all fit while still meeting my exacting organizational and aesthetic standards (if it’s not bad enough that I have a particular organizational system, I toss looks into the mix as well–madness!). I guess I either have to get more shelves or rid of some books before I can add any more books to my collection.
I’ve also finished my first book for the year (technically started in 2015), a reread of Susan Coopers 1965 Fantasy-Mystery Over Sea, Under Stone. It just squeaks in at “old enough” for my completely arbitrary “children’s classic” definition (50 years), but really, I think doesn’t feel that old. I don’t have too much to say about it; Over Sea, Under Stone is probably my least favorite of the entire Dark is Rising Sequence, and I really just reread it to get to the next one, for which the series is named. In brief, it is the story of the three Drew children, Simon, Jane, and Barney, who are spending their summer holidays with their family–including their somewhat mysterious Great-Uncle Merry–in Cornwall. A rainy day leads to the discovery of an old manuscript and map which leads them on a search for an Arthurian grail, and in the tradition of much of children’s fantasy literature, they find themselves facing off against the forces of evil. The evil here is somewhat ill-defined. That is, we know who is evil, but we are never given a solid ground indication as to what their evilness means. Why are we to call the “bad guys” evil, other than that they are in opposition to the children, who as our heroes are of course, good? If I recall correctly, this definition will be given in the later books, but its absence here perhaps goes some way towards explaining my ambivalence to the first book in the series. That and–and I’m going by vague memory now, so I could be off–I believe I found the later books to be more traditionally “fantasy,” that is, they had a stronger sense of “magic.” This one is a little more pedestrian, with only one or two indications that anything supernatural might be at play (and those indications largely noticed because I know the trajectory of the series). The element of mystery is certainly stronger than fantasy here. But obviously it was sufficient–or maybe my fondness for the characters–that I pursued reading the entire series when I was in elementary school. (I think. I might have been in middle school by then.) I will likely leave the next book in the series for the end of the month or early next in favor of older books.
I’ve also started Pinocchio for the RAL. Actually, I’ve started the Italian, which I’d said I wasn’t going to read, and so I’m not actually trying to understand everything, just get the general gist of it, but I’m surprised at how much better it’s going than my previous attempt. I guess the practice I had in reading in Spanish last year is helping with my Italian! I’ll still read an English translation for the RAL, but it’s been fun to attempt some of the original.
Of course, the next question is, what else shall I read this month? I confess, despite hosting the Classic Children’s Lit event, I haven’t put too much thought into this. I have a couple candidates pulled off my shelves (The Little Prince, Treasure Island), but I might also request something from the library. Or maybe read Part 2 of Little Women, which I never managed to get to two years ago when I reread Part 1. Anyone want to try to sway me to a particular favorite?