A monthly post about my progress toward finishing a very large stack of books. Past months' posts:
I only managed to finish two books in February, but they're both from my Book Stack and they're both on my list of twelve particular books I want to finish in 2021, so I'll call it a win.
First, for fiction, I read Far From the Madding Crowd by Thomas Hardy. I'd read Tess of the d'Urbervilles way back when (in 2009! How is it possible that 12 years have gone by?) and absolutely loved it. I don't know why, but I never got around to reading any more Thomas Hardy since then. My sister had given me Far from the Madding Crowd sometime between then and now, but I never picked it up--a book that long is just such a commitment, you know?--until last month when I finally compelled myself to dive in. And you know what? I was reminded of what I loved so much about Tess. Hardy's lush descriptions of landscape and people and weather (there's a thunderstorm that goes on for three chapters). He does have a tendency to make unflattering sweeping generalizations about women, though I suspect these are tongue-in-cheek, since they're usually used as counterpoint to what the women characters (usually Bathsheba, heroine of this book) actually are like or what they actually do. I will admit that it got a little bit slow in the middle, and I didn't love it quite as much as I loved Tess, but I was happy that it didn't end tragically (for Bathsheba and the hero, Gabriel Oak, anyway; other characters did come to unhappy ends). Perhaps I'll read Jude the Obscure or The Mayor of Casterbridge before another dozen years go by.
In contrast to that nearly 150-year-old novel, my nonfiction for the month was nearly brand new: World of Wonders by Aimee Nezhukumatathil, subtitled In Praise of Fireflies, Whale Sharks, and Other Astonishments. "Praise" is a fitting description; it's like a series of praise poems written in prose, which is apt, since Nezhukumatathil is poet. I won't write too much about this book here and now, because I'll be reviewing it in Literary Mama in a couple of months, and I'm already excited to read it a second time for the review. Stay tuned!