Saturday, 21 June 2014


Gather Ye Rosebuds While Ye May,
by John William Waterhouse.
“Summer afternoon - summer afternoon; to me those have always been the two most beautiful words
 in the English language.”
~ Henry James

It's the first day of summer! But, really, it's felt like summer for a few weeks now. The weather has been glorious and I've been enjoying sitting out with the hens and reading, focussing at present on my Classics Club list (ten to go!). I love this time of year (I think I say that about every season, but there different and all very good reasons to love each part of the year, although February often pushes its luck). The swallows have been back for a while now, and there's a nest in the archway between our house and our neighbour's, so I'm looking forward to seeing some of the young ones braving the outside world in the next few weeks or so. And a few days ago I saw not one but two woodpeckers sitting next to each other on the fence (I've never seen two at once!). It's such a busy time of year for the animal world, they're all out and about: the squirrel has been spotted after being away for nearly two years (I imagine it was a different squirrel, but all the same it's nice to see a squirrel), and I've even seen a deer on the green at the front of the house, not to mention owls, bats, and many hundreds of garden birds! In contrast, I think summer's a rather lazy time for a lot of us humans, and I'm looking forward to some relaxing and getting my foot better (I hurt my foot a few months ago and it still hasn't healed, but I think it's beginning to show a little progress).

And, another reason to celebrate: this is my 100th post! I also noticed that I've now written over 40 reviews as well, so I'm most happy with my blog.

As for reading plans (always the fun part of 'new month' / 'new season' posts!): I noticed Marianne had listed twenty books she would like to read over the summer: this is part of Cathy's 20 Books of Summer Challenge, which I've decided to join. As I said I have ten books left from my Classics Club, which are listed here, and the rest are other books I've been thinking about of late:

Classics Club List:

1. Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury.
2. The Magus by John Fowles.
3. The Satanic Verses by Salman Rusdhie.
4. The Last of the Mohicans by James Fenimore Cooper.
5. The Rainbow by D. H. Lawrence.
6. The Wings of the Dove by Henry James.
7. A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway.
8. Uncle Tom's Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe.
9. Bouvard et Pécuchet by Gustave Flaubert.
10. Lorna Doone by R. D. Blackmore.

Other Reads:

11. Jean Santeuil by Marcel Proust.
12. Notes from a Dead House / House of the Dead by Fyodor Dostoyevsky.
13. Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov.
14. Moby-Dick by Herman Melville.
15. Moments of Being by Virginia Woolf.
16. Framley Parsonage by Anthony Trollope.
17. The Small House at Allington by Anthony Trollope.
18. Scenes of Clerical Life by George Eliot.
19. Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen.
20. The Private Memoirs and Confessions of a Justified Sinner by James Hogg.

I do have a little bit of a head start on The Satanic Verses (I'm slightly less than half-way through, and though I was dreading it, whilst I can't say I'm wildly enthusiastic about it I am happy enough reading it). Also: I said a few posts ago I wanted to read The Decameron this summer: I'll still be reading it, but it's a read-along that is expected to run into October. Finally, The Last Chronicle of Barset isn't listed: I imagine I'll get to that in the first week or so of autumn. 

I'll list these titles on my 2014 Challenges page and track my progress there. Meanwhile, I have a review I want to write (on To The Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf), and then I shall return to The Satanic Verses. That is how I'm spending my midsummer's evening!

Happy summer, everyone!


  1. I love this list - The Wings of the Dove is so wonderful! I can't wait to follow your progress this summer.

    1. Thank you! I'm glad you came up with this idea! :)

  2. Sense & Sensibility! :) That one's my favorite Austen. ♥

    1. I know! And I just didn't like it the first time round, and in your honour this will be my second Austen re-read - that's actually why I chose this title :) And I HAD to pick one Austen because I knew Adam's Austen in August was coming!

  3. Love the art; love the quote; love the post. The Wings of the Dove is my favorite Henry James novel. I hope you enjoy reading it this summer, and all the other books, too. Happy Summer Reading!

    1. Thank you, same to you!

      I'm a bit nervous about Wings of the Dove - I don't tend to do too well with HJ's novels, and I started this in Feb (admittedly a very very bad time for reading). But I'm going to give it another go. Everyone seems to love it :)

  4. I began Wings of the Dove but moved on as it wasn't the right time. I have heard both like and dislike for it. Interested to see what you think of Uncle Tom's cabin. I'm on chapter 60 of Moby Dick and for the most part enjoying it though a lot of religious symbolism though am ignoring a lot of it for the story. Love the story so far and the myriad of characters. Glad your little brood of birds and fowl are doing fine and I hope you have an enjoyable summer. I have now gone through 4 seasons with you and enjoyed it all. Thanks for the reviews.

    1. I've put down Moby-Dick for now - not doing so well keeping up with everyone. My plan is to start it again next week and just read at my own pace. I've read it before and I do like it :)

      Happy summer, Pam :)

  5. Wonderful summer fun blogpost....enjoyed reading it while my cats scamper around the room! I will look into the great links you posted. I too am dreading Rushdie. Waiting for your thoughts about it....

    1. I finished it this week! It's.... oh, it's a tricky one! I didn't need to dread it as much as I did, though. It's difficult, hard to follow, and boring at times BUT it really does have it's moments, and even though I've just said it's difficult it's, at the same time, very readable.

      With that comment you can see why I'm not attempting a proper review, can't you?! ;)

  6. Enjoy S&S it's my favourite Austen. Your summer book challenges are amazing - I'd be daunted by tackling 3 or 4 from those lists! (Apart from Austen, of course)

    1. I'm daunted as well, it's just that I saved a load of the daunting titles 'til last on my Classics Club list. I won't make that mistake again!

  7. Happy Summer to you, too :)
    You know, I love all the times of the year just as you do: it's just impossibile, to me, to choose a "favourite season"!

    1. Yes, they're all just brilliant in their own way :)


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