The act of reading ... begins on a flat surface, counter or page, and then gets stirred and chopped and blended until what we make, in the end, is a dish, or story, all our own.
— Adam Gopnik

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June 9, 2013

Sunday reading

I'm very glad that today is Sunday, because I woke up to that feeling that you get when you stretch lazily in bed, and then realize that your room is a little too sunny and the face of your alarm clock is a little too dark. As it turns out, there was another transformer cable malfunction {something that seems to happen a lot in my new neighborhood}, resulting in a massive power failure that started in the middle of the night and lasted till about 10:30 this morning,  So all I could really do was look out into the pitch-dark hallway, decide that I really didn't want to go downstairs in search of news, turn back into my very sunny living room, pour out some cereal {the milk was still OK} and read for a couple of hours. :)

After finishing my Pyms {for now, because I want to keep re-reading all of them}, it was fun to look around for my next book. I realized last night that I have an embarrassingly large pile of books from the college library {when you can borrow a book for six months, and then renew it five times, it's like buying it ... there's no pressure to get it read}. I had noticed Bluestockings, by Jane Robinson, on one of the UK blogs a couple of years ago and listened to a podcast about it, but it hasn't been published here and was very hard to find until I was lucky enough to get that library access. I'm sorry if this is a tease, for that reason, but the book is very readable and absorbing, and if you can find it, I'd recommend it. It covers a wide range of topics, from efforts by early educators (mostly women} to create the colleges, to the support - and opposition -- early students faced, to their day-to-day experiences in work, sports, and 'pashes' and 'crushes' on men and other women, to questions about what careers the early graduates could find, or whether university education was just 'breeding white elephants.'

It's a history, mostly, from the 1860s to the 1920s {although there are some references to later students}. So it's focused a little earlier than Barbara Pym's time {she entered St. Hilda's College, Oxford, in 1931} but of course the first thing I did was to look in the  index for a mention of her, and there was one -- 'The novelist Barbara Pym seems to have spent most of her university career in the 1930s in a febrile state of unrequited love...' in the chapter headed 'Spear Fishing and Other Pursuits.' {That almost sounds like a title for one of her novels, doesn't it?}

I just read online that between the power failure and the Red Sox game, traffic is snarled up all over the place, so I have the perfect excuse for not doing my Sunday errands, unless I can walk to them. After not getting to it for a while {heat wave + laziness}, I've really been enjoying my Ipod book, Eighty Days, again, the one about Nelly Bly's race with a fellow journalist, Elizabeth Bisland, to travel around the world in less time than Jules Verne's fictional traveler Phileas Fogg. The background on the two women is fascinating, and now that they're well launched on their travels, the description of what they are seeing is so well done.  Nelly Bly has just met Jules Verne in France, and Elizabeth Bisland has arrived in Japan. Another book I can recommend, especially as an audiobook.

I hope your Sunday, and your reading, is wonderful.
{The little drawing at the top is from the title page of Bluestockings;
it's from an Oxford women's college magazine published in 1924}}


Lisa said...

I am in the long library line for Eighty Days, which I think has finally arrived in the cataloguing department - I need to check. I am green with envy over your six-months' loans!

Nicola said...

I like the sound of the Bluestockings book. I don't read a gread deal of social history and really should. Adding this to ever growing list!

JoAnn said...

Six month loans??? That really is practically like owning the book. Hope you had a wonderful Sunday...

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