Wednesday, 4 January 2012

Pickwick Papers, post-Christmas blues, and bad weather.

The new study.
Today has been, in a word, wet. We had gone for a drive when it was early enough to expect light, but everything seemed dark. The tree trunks were black, the grass and leaves were the darkest green I've seen, and the moorland was bleak: everything looked soaked, absolutely sodden with the rain and sleet we had today and last night, that had also caused the power to fail. The sky was heavy, grey, and full. People's roof tiles looked like mirrors. I was hating the book I was reading (Pickwick Papers most definitely needs to be read a section at a time, and is not a bedtime book), and the only cheer was the Christmas trees and lights still up in people's windows, and even those will be taken down by Thursday.

Except my fairy lights. My fairy lights stay up around my bookcase all the year around. I had call to move the study into another room (pictured above), and this space is much smaller, which is a lot better: I like small spaces. I'm so happy with it, but the time it took to move each bookcase took up a lot of reading time, and consequently I felt bad. I felt behind. 

It's funny, how finding a book dull can put me in these moods. This is Anna Karenina syndrome. Getting two hundred or so pages into Pickwick Papers took a lot of time, and whilst War and Peace is well underway, I feel like nothing is completed. I feel like I haven't done anything of worth. At least not yet: a good book makes all the difference, and having taken the advice of @seekinghappyville and @Fleurinherworld, I put Pickwick down and picked up Great Expectations. It is going so much better: for three days, I've felt bad, like because these three days haven't amounted to a great deal, it is some kind of sign that this year will somehow continue in this vein. But we're only three days in, and I have achieved some things: I've got this room looking lovely (at least I think so!), the writing desk is clear of all junk - all it has on it now is my laptop, a notebook, a pen, a Vogue (maybe that shouldn't be there...) and my Greek dictionary (incidentally, learning the Greek alphabet is not as difficult as I feared!), and, like it or not, I am getting through a book that is worthy of reading.

And I still have my plans and my hopes. I'm not "writing off" these past few days, but I am drawing a line under them and moving forward. If I have my plans, my hopes, and, indeed, my motivation (which is still in check) then I'm all set. Call this the post-Christmas blues, but anyway spring is coming, and we have a few months ahead of comfort. The weather is still inhospitable, I wonder how anything manages to survive, so we stay indoors. Armchairs, tea, coffee, telephone calls, and reading. Winter is cosy, whatever happens outside. The wetness and cold doesn't stop anything. I may well be reading a good many dull books in 2012, but isn't this what reading is all about? Discovery? Sifting through all kinds of everything to find the few books that live with us for the rest of our lives?

  1. Great Expectations by Charles Dickens.
  2. He Knew He Was Right by Anthony Trollope.
  3. Pamela by Samuel Richardson.
  4. Les Misérables by Victor Hugo.
  5. Collected Poems by Ted Hughes.
  6. Persuasion by Jane Austen.
  7. Discipline and Punish by Michel Foucault.
  8. Vanity Fair by William Thackery.
  9. Germinal by Émile Zola.
  10. The Chronicles of Narnia by C. S. Lewis.
And there are other things, as well. I'm looking forward to re-writing my novel, progressing with Ancient Greek, seeing some progress with exercising (I'm counting distance against time now, I don't look at the calories burned), going away with Big C, buying Lord knows what new books, completing the most boring books in the whole world so I can at least say to myself, "I have read it" (I hope you're listening, Pickwick), watching Effy get even stronger, seeing the owls, joining in with some readathons (I am so ready for a readathon, if you know of any, please do tell me!), getting into yoga again... All the things I've listed, which I've re-read just now. I am excited again, despite a few off days. In the next hour, I'll be headed to bed (not with a cup of coffee!) and continuing with Great Expectations. I have no plans for tomorrow, so it doesn't matter how late I go to sleep. I'm one hour into the 4th January, and I have the whole night, no, the whole year ahead of me right at this moment!


  1. I hope your reading picks up. I love Great Expectations. I always get the after the holiday blues as well. I don't want to take down my Christmas tree.

  2. The study looks stunning. I'd love to curl up with a book there on a rainy day. Great job, girl :)
    I was feeling a little down today as well- I had the least productive day in a while yesterday and I started freaking out. Then I remember the year has just started and I pulled myself together again.
    I'm glad you're enjoying Great Expectations. I haven't read much Dickens, but what I did read I LOVED. His writing was so... cozy, I guess one could say. It makes me think of snow outside and a lovely afternoon by a fire with family and books. I can't wait to read your thoughts about it.

  3. Hooray for fairy lights! Your study does indeed look cozy. It looks like a room you just want to sit in and read for hours.

    Glad you've settled in with a book that is working for you :)

  4. Beautiful post!

    I love your study/library! I don't have one...yet...but I love seeing others' so I can gather and steal ideas. I love the fairy lights. :)

    I've been sick with a cold the last few days, I have been feeling miserable and off. I hope that isn't a sign of a horrible year to come. I think part of it is the season...things always seem bleaker once the holiday decorations are gone.

    I wasn't a fan of Great Expectations. I really think my ninth grade English teacher ruined it for me forever. I don't know if I will ever get over that. But I am a huge fan of some of the other books on your list. Germinal is simply AMAZING. I read it very early on in my project and was BLOWN away.

  5. I am envious!!!! I want a study like yours!!!!!! Will make 2012 the year where I get my reading space all pretty and awesome looking!!!

    Good luck with your list - I too wish to read Persuasion. Maybe we can have a readalong or something. Best of luck for the reading adventures of 2012 :)

  6. Thanks, all :) I really loved Great Expectations, but as I was saying on Twitter before, I really did not love Pip, no, not in the slightest.

    Allie - why did your English teacher ruin it?

    And terri-maree - am up for a readalong, when do you fancy it? I'd like to focus on Dickens this month, and War and Peace, so after Jan?

  7. *I may well be reading a good many dull books in 2012, but isn't this what reading is all about? Discovery? Sifting through all kinds of everything to find the few books that live with us for the rest of our lives?*

    This should be written in gold and hung in every library.

    Awesome reading nook. I love the Christmas lights.

    And I can't wait to read Great Expectations in a few weeks and compare notes with you!

  8. She was very pushy when she was teaching it and failed to explain a lot of it. I was a ninth grader, and while it was an Honors class, we all had a really hard time with the language. She continued to thrust the book at us, told us it was amazing, but didn't guide us through it. The last time I read it (back in 2009 as one of the first books for this project), all I could think about was her lack of teaching and explanation.

  9. You shouldn't feel at all bad! You have a wonderful new reading nook to show for your non-reading time. :) It looks so warm and welcoming.
    And you really have a wonderful way with words.

    I love the winter (though my husband thinks I'm nuts!). I didn't feel truly recharged for the new year until we had our first snowfall of the season on Monday.

  10. Jillian - Thank you, I'm glad you liked it :)

    Allie - That's no good! I think my English teacher hated Dickens, which was a good thing for me: she taught me that you don't have to love a classic because you're told to.

    And eb&c - thank you :) It is lovely in that room, frustratingly though I can't get an internet connection! Probably a good thing - means I can focus on reading, writing, and Greek without checking Twitter every ten minutes! :)

  11. As much as I love the warmth and fun of spring, summer and fall, I also love the coziness all winter. I hope your post-Christmas blues pass soon. Looks like you have some excellent books to look forward to!

    1. Thank you, and I do - it's hard to be bluesy when I'm so excited about my book pile! I am, I must admit, not entirely convinced I'll hit 101 books by the end of the year, but I mean to try!

  12. Great essay -- it sucked me in and all the way through to the end.

    I hope you got over your New Year's blues. I love your daunting reading list. I'm in the mood myself for reading huge, challenging books. I don't know if it has to do with the weather or the economy or just a winter desire to hibernate.

    1. Thank you, I do believe I am over them :) And yes, winter has me happily locked away in my room reading Dickens. I did go out for a walk before, so bitterly cold! Much better to hibernate.

  13. I joined the European Reading Challenge and I'm browsing a little through the participant's list.
    I think I already visited your blog at a readathon or maybe NaNoWriMo...
    I *loved* the photo of this post! You are writing about the darkness and everything being grey outside and I thought it looked so cozy inside :)
    I guess this *is* the time of the year for cozy reads inside of the house. Here it's the same greyness outside. I love being at home right now...
    Happy Reading!

    1. Thank you! And yes, that's why I like this room, for that exact reason. Not sure how much of summer I'll spend in here, it doesn't get much light. I think then I'll be (I HOPE) reading outside, or else in Big C's music room, which gets the sun all day. I do get a lovely view of the forest here, though :)



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