Saturday, September 03, 2005

My Well-Read Veneer

I am known to be a bookworm. I think all writers are also book-aholics and by being writers we can call all that reading "research".

However recently I realised being a book-aholic did not make me well-read. I have no depth to my knowledge, the last classic I read was Jane Austen sometime back in the mid 1990s. Charles Dickens got ditched after GCSE and a too close acquaintance with Philip Pirrip in 'Great Expectations' (although having a character called Biddy made it a little more palatable).

I haven't read Hardy, Eliot or Lawrence and the Brontes were read back when I was 12. I do have quite a few poetry books ranging from Donne to Brian Patten. I had my F Scott Fitzgerald and Salinger moments as a teenager and I've passed them by ever since.

And when it comes to the modern... ne'er a one has passed my retinas.

This isn't bad. I am not against all those wonderful books that I have devoured with great pleasure It is just that without a working knowledge of some of the other books, without seeing the way language has been used, without flexing a muscle in my brain and pushing myself I feel as if my own writing is getting flabby.

So in an effort to exercise my brain along with my body I have invested in my own "Mind Gym".
The equipment so far:
1 copy of 'Far From the Madding Crowd' by Thomas Hardy
1 copy of 'Tess of the D'Urbervilles' by Thomas Hardy
1 audiobook dramatisation of 'Richard II'
1 audiobook dramatisation of 'Coriolanus'
1 audiobook dramatisation of 'Alls Well That Ends Well'

So far I am halfway through 'Far From The Madding Crowd', I'm enjoying it but it is slow going. My mind isn't used to having to work. 'Richard II' and 'Coriolanius' have both been listened to. They are due another go because I have now dipped into the plays and want to go back and find out what I've missed.

I want to expand the "Mind Gym" so I am open to suggestions. Anyone??


Lis said...

If your doing the classics, I love Taming Of The Shrew by Shakespeare. The movie version with Elizabeth Taylor's great as well :o)

Biddy said...

Thanks Lis! I saw it when I was about eleven and loved it. *adds it to list*

Donna Alward said...

George Eliot. I love all her books and they make me think. Am currently in Middlemarch. Austen. I just love her irony and wit. And if you really want to stretch some muscles, try Faulkner.

I am a lot like you Bids in that I haven't read many classics since I was in uni. There are things I don't know much Art and mythology, so my first step: ordering a book from my daughter's school book orders. In the teacher's section there is a book that is basic Art history. I think it would be a good beginner book for me!

But the mythology and greek classics are still to be explored.

Kate Hardy said...

* Thomas Hardy, 'Return of the Native' (note that the background is actually a character here!)
* George Eliot, 'Mill on the Floss'
* AS Byatt, 'Still Life' (this is part of a quartet that's excellent and her 'Possession' is one of my faves too);
* Margaret Atwood, 'The Handmaid's Tale'
* Robertson Davies, 'The Rebel Angels' (first part of a trilogy - all very clever stuff)
* Carol Shields, 'Unless' (just beautifully written)

... oh, next time I see you, we'll be talking until about 4am. (With the moon shining bright etc etc etc)