Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Places in Reading

I go through definite phases in my reading, where I might read several books sequentially. I went through a travel book phase once ~ mainly books on France. France is an endlessly fascinating place. But I also enjoy reading about places like Antarctica.

But there's always something else going on ~ even as a kid, I would read a variety of things. I pretty much indulge in this type of reading every week. A classic, a memoir, something spiritual, a big adventure story, a fun book, a food book, a how to book, some sort of travel guide, plus assorted newspapers and magazines. Once I've gotten a good start into each book and decided, yes, this is something I want to spend time with, then I know I'll finish the book. I could read them one at a time, much in the same way I can sit in one place and watch a half-dozen episodes of the Twilight Zone back to back when they have the marathon on television. I keep my place in each book, and when I settle back into it, I usually re-read a page or two to get back into the flow.

I've read the back of the postcard many times over the years, and always wonder what the Underhills are studying. I usually end up guessing art history, or picture them in chef togs. I just don't know what those Underhills are up to. They give no clue. But the postcard reminds me of a E.M. Forster type of novel in which Underhills have some exciting and some unfortunate adventures in Paris, which leads to some great and sudden change in Mrs. Underhill. It's 1928 and the Underhills don't know that they'll lose their fortune in the upcoming stock market crash. They meet Gertrude Stein and Mr. Underhill strikes up a friendship with Picasso that goes very sour. Mr. Underhill will sigh a lot and wish they'd never come to this place! He will perhaps return to Maryland alone.

I always like it when a memoir includes descriptions of a place. Can you guess who wrote it?

The best place to read this book is at a table with a nice cuppa and a biscuit or cookie. I'm overly familiar with the biscuits listed in the book, as well as many other kinds of tea biscuits, cakes, and cookies. I have a number of favorites, but like with books, need to taste them all in the span of a year. The book is perfect for the biscuit enthusiast, and there is a cake/bread/cracker/cookie/biscuit Venn diagram ~ always fun to add to the confusion with a Venn diagram. There's also a chapter on dunking, which brought back memories of some fabulous dunks of yesteryear, and made me wonder why I stopped dunking. But the book reminded me ~ bottom sludge and breakage were factors.

A slice of cake, a piece of toast, or a biscuit with your tea or coffee is grand. Add a book, and it's heavenly.


mouse (aka kimy) said...

what a delicious post. there are so many goodies to nibble on!!

first my guess as to the memoir - flannery o'connor?

your story of the underhills - pure delight!

I love old postcards with their sometimes mysterious but always tantalizing messages

my reading habits are similar to yours ...a little of this, and this, and this...

ah, I see I'm missed some always reading to catch up....


mouse (aka kimy) said...

p.s. I (heart) venn diagrams!

R.L. Bourges said...

I passed on the cookies but meandered through your post while having my cuppa. Nicey & Wifey have a website, did you know? Here:

The Underhills: in my opinion, they are in Paris so Monsieur can study the Christian Brothers' Missionary Plans for Southeast Asia, the better to counter them with the Prebyterian plans for same (while secretly spying to discover the recipe for Christian Brothers' Brandy.)

Madame Underhill is supposed to be taking French lessons for their missionary stay in Indochina. But - gasp! - she falls into a dalliance with a French puppeteer she met in the Bois de Boulogne and joins the French Communist Party.

Distraught, disgusted and fairly depressed over it all, Monsieur Underhill returns to Maryland and does a lot of sighing with Brother Trout. They talk a lot about signing up on a gunboat with Steve McQueen, but it's just talk while they sample Trout Brandy out at the still by the lake. The End.

My reading habits are pretty similar to yours and kimy's - a bit of this, a bit of that.

Will you provide more info about this particular Venn diagram?

Off to check what the Dalai Lama has to say about ethics.

Thanks, A V. This was great fun.


tut-tut said...

I love Venn diagrams. As a matter of fact, I see the blogger world as one big Venn diagram.

Haven't a clue whose memoir that is. But I'd love to dip into the Sit Down book. Happy Reading, Avid!

JGH said...

Gawrsh! The Underhills that you and RL are cooking up are way more interesting than most of the stuff I'm reading. You guys should collaborate on something!

Tennessee Williams memoir? Second guess Capote.

Regarding dunking...have you ever dipped graham crackers in espresso? So much better tasting than you'd think! Breakage is a problem, tho.

Deborah Godin said...

Please do keep us posted on the Underhills! After that brief introduction, I found myself instantly and inexplicably fond of them. The supermarket in my little town has changed hands, and they now carry something I haven't had in a very long time - chocolate croissants. Don't know if that's the good news or the bad... but it was good with coffee and a Rolling Stone essay yesterday. I give, who wrote the excerpt?! (I'll check back later to see if we have a winner)

lettuce said...

dalliance with a french puppeteer - aaah!

of course Underhill was Frodo Baggins undercover name. I don't suppose that is relevant...

but i'd have thought maybe a nice comfy sofa, rather than a table?

Alan Smithee said...

Sounds like the words of Mr. Bob Dylan.

Megan said...

Yummy post, Avid.

I too am usually reading several things at once - offspring and I each get half the coffee table and my half is constantly toppling over onto his side!

Great guesses here on the excerpt. I'm stumped.

Ronda Laveen said...

I read all kinds of different books at the same time, like you. My husband doesn't understand how I can keep them all straight. Not a problem. My mother-in-law used to have an extensive postcard collection. Some of the notes on them ARE intriguing.

Barbara said...

I am most impressed at your ability to multi-process books. Unfortunately I read like I approach a plate of food -- one dish at a time.

Coffee Messiah said...

Riches indeed ; )

My Classic Fiction Book List -Partial List

  • Austen, Jane: (Complete Works)
  • Balzac: Cousin Bette/ Eugenie Grandet / Cousin Pons
  • Best Russian Short Stories
  • Boyle, TC: Short Works
  • Brennan, Maeve : Short Works, 1 Novella
  • Bronte, Emily, Ann, Jane (Complete Works)
  • Brookner, Anita ( Complete Works)
  • Cather, Willa (Complete Works)
  • Chekov: Short Works
  • David Copperfield (Dickens)
  • Dickens:A Tale of Two Cities
  • Dickens:Great Expectations
  • Dickens:Nicholas Nickelby
  • Dickens:Our Mutual Friend
  • Dickens:The Old Curiosity Shop
  • Doyle, Roddy (some novels, memoir)
  • Drabble, Margaret (4 Novels)
  • Drieser, Theodore (Complete Works)
  • Fitzgerald, F.Scott (Most Novels & short works)
  • Hardy, Thomas (Complete Works)
  • Hemingway, Short stories
  • Hemingway: The Old Man in the Sea
  • Hemingway: The Sun Also Rises
  • Hugo: Les Miserables/Hunchback Of ND
  • James, Henry: Daisy Miller
  • James, Henry: In The Cage
  • James, Henry: Portrait of a Lady
  • James, Henry: The Golden Bowl
  • James, Henry: What Maisy Knew
  • James, Henry: Wings of a Dove
  • James, Henry:The Ambassadors
  • James, Henry; The Bostonians
  • Kerouac: Dharma Bums
  • Kerouac: On The Road
  • Kerouac: The Subterraneans
  • Kerouac: Tristessa
  • Lardner,Ring:Short Works
  • Larsen: Quicksand
  • Lewis, Sinclair: Arrowsmith
  • Lewis, Sinclair: Free Air
  • Lewis, Sinclair: Main Street
  • Lewis, Sinclair: The Job
  • MacGill, Patrick (Complete works)
  • Mackin, Walter (novels)
  • Maupassant: Short Works, novels
  • McGahern, John (novels of)
  • McNulty, John (Short Works)
  • Norris, Frank: McTeague
  • O'Brien, Edna (3 Novels)
  • O'Donnell, Paeder : Novels of
  • O. Henry
  • Potok, Chaim (4 novels/1 non fiction)
  • Salinger, JD : Nine Stories
  • Salinger: Franny & Zooey
  • Salinger: Raise High the Roofbeams
  • Salinger: The Catcher in the Rye
  • Sinclair, Lewis: Dodsworth
  • Sinclair, Lewis: Elmer Gantry
  • Sinclair, Upton: King Coal
  • Sinclair, Upton: The Jungle
  • Steinbeck, John: Sweet Thursday
  • Steinbeck: Winter of our Discontent
  • Steinbeck: Cannery Row
  • Steinbeck: East of Eden
  • Steinbeck: The Grapes of Wrath
  • Theroux, Paul (3 Novels )
  • Toibin, Colm: (Novels of)
  • Tolstoy: Anna Karenina
  • Tolstoy: Short Works
  • Turgenev (2 novels)
  • Twain: T Sawyer, Life on the Mississippi
  • Vonnegut: Early Works (1950s-60s)
  • Wharton, Edith: Novels of/Short Stories
  • Women & Fiction (Edit. Cahill)
  • Zola, Emile ( 10 novels)