A couple of nights ago, while otherwise distracted, I thought I had left my copy of Middlemarch at the pub.* And I’m ashamed to say that for a moment I thought that perhaps this was for the best. Not to say that I’m not enjoying it, but just that I don’t seem to be progressing very far with it and I find this frustrating. You know how sometimes you’re stuck in a project at work or home and it feels like you’re never going to see the end of it? I confess that’s somewhat how I currently feel about Middlemarch. I am adrift in a doldrums of reading. A few pages each day is not enough to put wind in the sails and hit one’s stride with the great classic. But the posts must go on, so here is my attempt to distract you from the promised ‘next book’. A metaphorical waving of my arms and tap-dancing skit, if you will.
At my place of work we have a monthly staff meeting where we often ask a colleague to tell us about ‘the books that made them’—it is a publishing house after all. It’s a five-minute book love-in on a Friday afternoon that always gets everyone talking. Being a chatty type who doesn’t mind speaking in public I presented some books that ‘made me’ quite a while ago. But it was a hard thing, whittling it down to a handful of authors, and I stuck only to those I had read as a young child, and still failed to mention several key creators. So here, I’ve decided, is a forum to shed light on a few more of those books that have had something to do, for better or worse, with the making of me. And as I’ve committed to posting at least once a week in 2011, this new topic gives us a whole lot of things to talk about. Though I will cheat this time and merely introduce the notion with all good intentions to post on it properly in a few days’ time. (Famous last words.)
So, yes, I am stealing an idea from work and yes, I am running away with a quick post this week. I can tell you that the first book which ‘made me’ that I want to talk about is Playing Beattie Bow by Ruth Park. History, romance, danger, strong female characters, written by one of the best writers of Sydney (see, even managing to link it back to last week’s post)—how could an 11-year-old girl resist.
* When I arrived home in the wee hours of Saturday morning I found my copy of Middlemarch snug in an armchair, thanks to my brother
(who is also my flatmate) taking the book-carrying responsibility and bringing it home with him. I think my taking an 800-plus-page book out with me on a Friday night in case I found myself with a couple of spare minutes to read it (where I’m not sure), only goes to prove the anxiety I’m currently feeling about getting stuck in to Eliot’s masterpiece. But this too shall pass.