Monday, 15 June 2015

One Down

I have a raft of ebooks in my library. Some, I have grabbed as freebies when they've been on promotion, some I've got for the offspring to read so they reside in my virtual Tsundoku pile destined never to be read by me, and some I actually pay for.

One of my latest acquisitions was "Harry's Pub", which flitted past on my FB newsfeed one day and caught my eye. For two quid I thought it sounded interesting enough to buy and I wasn't disappointed. I read the whole book, putting it down reluctantly when I had to, and thoroughly enjoyed it. For two quid, it's well worth straying off the path of the Tsundoku Way. Trust me :D

Still on the Tsundoku Path, I have an ever increasing virtual pile to be read, including the Poldark series. I'm slightly in two minds about whether to read those, having barely managed the first few pages of book one, and given how much I enjoyed the TV series, I don't really want to go down the route of comparing one to the other. Perhaps those are destined to remain unread for the time being.

I feel slightly guilty about my copy of "The History of English Food", which is looking accusingly at me from the arm of the sofa where it has languished for a couple of months. I read the first few chapters an enjoyed them immensely, but somehow I just don't seem to have found the time to continue with the rest of the book. This one is definitely on my "Must Finish" list and it will remain on the arm of the sofa to remind me of its presence until I do.

So many books, so little time! What's on your Tsundoku pile?

Thursday, 21 May 2015

'Astrology in the Renaissance' reader resistance

Many thanks to Ania for inviting me to be a guest author in this new blog. Look upon the latest addition to my abandoned book pile and weep, oh reader!

Astrology in The Renaissance
The Zodiac of Life
Eugenio Garin

I returned home from my two-week holiday in Italy raring to learn about astrology and its place in Italian Renaissance society.

Back in the early 1500s, there was not yet a complete split between Astrology and Astronomy and I had been mesmerised by the astrological meridian in the Basilica of San Petronio in beautiful Bologna.  That there was something of such extraordinary esoteric beauty in the middle of a Basilica piqued my interest and I wanted to learn MORE.

Back home, I quickly ordered up Astrology in the Renaissance from the Gods of Amazon and when it arrived, a scant 3 days later, I settled down in a corner of the sofa with my reading glasses and a mug of coffee.

But, things did not begin terribly well...

When a book's opening sentence is a ghastly 58 words long, I knew that I was in for a bumpy, boring ride.

Am I being unfair? You decide:

It is almost a commonplace of recent historiography that one could, in the Renaissance, make a precise distinction in astrology between two aspects which had previously, in antiquity and he Middle Ages, been inextricably linked and were indeed frequently confused under the one category 'astrology': the first being the religious and superstitious aspect and the second analytical and scientific.”

** shakes the reader awake **

Maybe I was just not in the right frame of mind, but the convoluted sentences failed to engage me. I realised that I was reading and re-reading the same paragraphs over and over again, trying to make sense of them.

And on and on it went in similar vein. Quotes were provided first in their original Latin, and then followed in English. Some of the quotes were quite long, so as my eyes increasingly danced across the verbose pages, there were instances when I thought I had lost the power to understand English at all.

I abandoned Chapter 1 and headed straight into the Chapter on Neoplatonism and hermeticism, but I was still baffled and – the worst sin of all in a book – bored.

Number of pages read before abandoning: nine pages of introduction and a paltry six pages of Chapter 1.

To be fair, there isn't a universe where something like 'neoplatonism and hermeticism in astrology' is going to be easy to understand, but I think that I might have had more fun trying to read the book in its original Italian.

And right there is, I feel, the reason that the book fails.

The translation is, I'm sure, absolutely perfect grammatically – but it has resulted in a work that is as difficult to digest as a bowl of unripe bananas. Not only is it a translation, but it seems to have been translated by a team of people – Carolyn Jackson, June Allen and Clare Robertson.

Anything done by committee consensus is usually troublesome :)

Still, I'm not selling it. You never know – maybe one day I'll be smart enough to read it and understand it :)  

Wednesday, 20 May 2015

The Tsundoku Way

We all do it...well, those of us who love books, anyway. We see a book that we just have to have and then it is condemned to languish on the floor, bedside table, the arm of the sofa or stuck in a spare corner of the bookcase that hasn't quite been jammed to the rafters. These days it may even be consigned to gather virtual dust in an unvisited folder on our computer, tablet or e-reader. Life is just too busy and too short to read all the books, and there are so many worth reading...or sometimes just owning.
If you recognise yourself in this, then you too have trodden the dusty path of the Tsundoku Way. Pull up a cushion, adopt a semi-comfortable pose and let us tell you about the books that we haven't read yet. If you like, you can even contribute to the blog - just drop us a note to post all about the books you haven't read yet.