How, how is it September? HOW? This year is flying by so very fast at a positively alarming rate!
August was a good, quiet (if speedy) month. It was a Zola month: I read The Joy of Life, Germinal, and The Masterpiece and made a small start with The Earth (only a chapter or two in). As planned, I read The Journals of Sylvia Plath, Lady Susan etc by Jane Austen, and Where Angels Fear to Tread by E. M. Forster (and I mentioned to a friend in email I had read Where Angles Fear to Tread, oops). Other than that, my reading was delightfully erratic! My favourite books: Germinal, which goes without saying, and also The Book Thief by Markus Susak. I've seen some very damning reviews amongst the glowing praise of Susak, and I suppose obviously I'm in with the masses on this one - a very good book, one of those lovely experiences where it is hard to put the thing down. So yes, I recommend it. Finally, I've made good progress with The Qur'an, and I expect to finish it in the next few days.
August has also been a good month for the hens. As I've said before, I haven't shared many pictures because it felt that every time one was healthy, when it came to putting them up another hen, Anne usually, would become ill and basically I wasn't in the mood. But I have my pictures ready to go up tomorrow and I am very happy to say that Anne is well on the road to recovery now. She's put on a lot of weight, her feathers are doing well, and her face and comb are finally red. In fact (albeit from a distance) she can be mistaken for Charlotte. Her eye is now normally open, and is no longer red and cloudy. She's done very well. I want to say at this point, however self-righteous it may come across: at some point, someone somewhere has recommended that we kill all three of our hens. Firstly, they could have been dead anyway before we got them as it is common practice to kill battery hens. Then, people said Charlotte ought to be culled because of her cold, from which she has completely recovered (as has Emily, come to that). It was also suggested that Emily ought to be killed, firstly because she was in such a state when we got her, then secondly because she was so vicious, however she has completely settled now and is no more dominant than any hen at the top of the pecking order (there's barely been any squabbling at all this week, actually). Finally, everyone, us included, didn't think Anne would see out August, and some said it was kinder to kill her off, too. Yes, she was weak. She was very poorly, barely ate, hid a lot, and was in very low spirits. But after her trip to the vets and her medicine she is doing exceptionally well. This was not an easy road, but nor was it immensely difficult or costly. In total, Anne's medicine cost £23. Of course we could have saved that money, but she is a living creature with a right to life as much as any bird, animal, any living thing. I was worried, and she was very ill, but this, getting her better, was not so difficult. All of them - getting them well has been perfectly possible. They're young hens. It's frightening and very sad how easily people would give up on them. All of them are happy and in high spirits, and they deserve that, more so because of the life they led in the battery farm.
Anyway, enough of my sermon. I think I'm preaching to the choir here!
So, then: September. It is here. Autumn in three weeks, can you believe that?! I really can't. I do love autumn and I'm looking forward to it, but I'm in a state of wonder at the fleeting year. This month I would like to focus more on my Classic Club list. I've now read 119 out of 180, and I'm getting to the point where the books left on the list are the ones I'm not so eager to read.
This isn't true of Zola, of course. On the Zola list, I have six left of the Rougon Macquart cycle: The Earth, The Dream, The Beast Within, Money, The Debacle, and Doctor Pascal. I'm in no rush to finish them, but at the same time with the finishing line feeling so close I do feel more focussed. I think I may finish in the next two or three months, most likely before Christmas. After then, as I've said, I'm going to work on replacing a few of them for better translations, then re-read them in Zola's suggested order, but I can't see me doing that before next autumn.
As for the rest of the list: as said, I expect to finish The Qur'an in the next few days, and I'm about ready to read Pilgrims Progress by John Bunyan. All summer I've picked up and put down Beowulf (so much so, sadly, I've lost it, but it is somewhere), and following the death of Seamus Heaney, I'm more inclined to begin reading it. I've read little of Heaney (though like most people my age who did GCSE English, I am familiar with him. If I do finish these three books, I'll have finished my pre-19th Century part of the list. This will leave 34 books for the 19th Century and 24 for the 20th. As I got The Awakening by Kate Chopin for the Classics Spin, I shall be reading her this month for certain, and as October is for all things Gothic, be leaving It by Stephen King until then (ditto Edgar Allan Poe). Tales from the Arabian Nights and The Return of the Native by Thomas Hardy are both on my 2013 Challenges, so one of those would be a good idea. I feel like I should try and read one book I really do not want to read, and Last of the Mohicans springs to mind instantly (has anyone enjoyed reading this, anyone at all?) as does The Satanic Verses by Rushdie. The ones, at present, I'm most inclined to read are What Maisie Knew by Henry James, and August 1914 by Solzhenitsyn because I was talking about him a few days ago (that should be an August 2014 read!). Most of the rest of the list I sort of feel indifferent to, although there are still some that I'm looking forward to (I made the mistake of counting them: eight. Oh dear...).
Anyway, point is I want to make a dint in my list, so I intend to read at least one if not two of the books I am absolutely dreading, as well as The Awakening, Tales from Arabian Nights or Return of the Native, Beowulf and / or Pilgrims Progress, and The Qur'an, as well as maybe another few. I've had a great summer of wandering around my shelves, but I would like to be a little more focussed this month. Just a little more!
And, last of the plans, I'll pick up the 15 Day Book Blogger Challenge! I'm going to cheat slightly and answer Day 5: Recommend a tear-jerker: this is something I won't do - I try never to spoil the end of people's books, and I think saying this book or that book will have you in tears, by the time you come to reading it half way through you'll guess the ending, and I think that would be a shame. So no, I won't recommend a tear-jerker!
For now, well, it's after eight o' clock, so I'm going to go watch Harry Potter and do some knitting: one of my tasks for getting ready for the colder months is knitting hen capes to keep them warm when the temperatures really go down. I've never had outdoor pets before, and I was a little too sad watching them today wandering around the garden with the wind ruffling their feathers. They're all fine now, but last year the temperatures were below -12 c, so I would like them to have their capes. So far I'm half way through Emily's, and I don't think I've done very well. It might be a bit small, so Anne could possibly have it (though Anne is nicknamed Chicking Kong at the moment as she's growing visibly by the day!). I did measure them, so perhaps I should trust that and get on with it. Worst comes to the worst I'll pull it out and start again. I like to think I'll finish Emily's cape this evening, so I shall try her in it tomorrow (if it looks fine I'll post a picture - it's lovely wool!).
Have a lovely September, everyone! This is a lovely month, the end of summer is so beautiful. I think September and October are the best months: they can always be counted on. Spring is wonderful too, but one never knows quite when it will happen.