Friday, 20 December 2013

End of Year Reading Cram: Days 10-12


What a week! Of course, with a week to go before Christmas, the shops are getting busier and during peak hours all I've been able to do is stay within a few feet of the counter and serve a steady stream of customers. Most people are full of Christmas cheer, if somewhat distracted, but  I've been coming home each evening feeling shattered and somewhat grumpy. This readathon has been a good distraction for me.

Wednesday evening was pretty miserable outdoors; wind and rain raging outside, so I disappeared into A Christmas Carol in a cosy armchair in front of the fire. Even though I've read the book dozens of times, and seen many adaptations over the years, to my shame I could not fight off the tears when the Ghost Of Christmas Yet To Come shows the Cratchit family facing their grief over Tiny Tim with love and courage. That gets me every time.

I think everyone is very familiar with A Christmas Carol, but this year it felt more relevant than just a cosy classic. With foodbank usage increasing tenfold on the Isle of Wight in the past two years, Scrooge comes across as the callous monster Dickens intended, rather than a mere grump. I think his "Bah, humbug" is misinterpreted a lot of the time; after all, you can buy black Santa hats with the phrase embroidered on the front. But Dickens does not condemn Scrooge for disliking magic and sparkle. Christmas, Dickens argues, is a time to stop with the navel-gazing and to remember what is important; to think of oneself as part of the larger community, the human race. Scrooge's sin is his flat refusal to do that.

Thursday and today I've been reading through Perdido Street Station, and hope to get to the end today. Although I have really enjoyed Mieville's world-building in New Crobuzon, the grimy, steampunky city full of strange creatures, I'm finding the main plot - the battle with the terrifying giant slake-moths - less interesting than that which was promised in the first half. The storylines which interested me more seem to have petered out or come to an abrupt and unsatisfying end about halfway through, and the novel has become quite slow and very verbose. I like to think I have a very good vocabulary, but Mieville's long words and complicated descriptions often leave me feeling quite overwhelmed and longing for a dictionary.

Wednesday Stats

What I've read today: A Christmas Carol
Number of pages read today: 82
Running total: 1117 pages
Books finished: Three: The Explorer Gene by Tom Cheshire
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J. K. Rowling
A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens
Number of mince pies consumed during readathon: 11
My life outside books: Hectic tiring day, cosy evening

Thursday Stats

What I've read today: Perdido Street Station
Number of pages read today: 131
Running total: 1248 pages
Books finished: Three: The Explorer Gene by Tom Cheshire
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J. K. Rowling
A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens
Number of mince pies consumed during readathon: 11
My life outside books: Zzzzzz!

Friday Stats

What I've read today: Perdido Street Station
Number of pages read today: 53
Running total: 1301 pages
Books finished: Three: The Explorer Gene by Tom Cheshire
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J. K. Rowling
A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens
Number of mince pies consumed during readathon: 11
My life outside books: Adding the finishing touches to some handmade Christmas presents

5 comments:

  1. I think I should have read A Christmas Carol rather than A Tale of Two Cities, I may have been less disappointed with Dickens. It always shocks me how relevant the ideas in his novels still are.

    I hope the last few working days before the big day are not too terrible for you!

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    1. They've actually seemed more relevant than ever the last few years! You only have to look at the comments on news sites to know that Ebenezer Scrooge is alive and well, unfortunately.

      I've survived the Saturday and now all I've got to work is Christmas Eve, and I reckon it'll go dead quiet after 3ish. I think I'm going to make it. :)

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  2. "Most people are full of Christmas cheer, if somewhat distracted, but I've been coming home each evening feeling shattered and somewhat grumpy." *tired fist bump* I'd have thought I'd have been feeling more 'end of term-esque' right now, peppier and Christmassier, but I just feel like I want to go home and sleep! Glad I'm not the only one. :)

    I've only read A Christmas Carol once (though I watch the Patrick Stewart adaptation almost every year) and one of the nicest things about it is how it always makes me want to... not ENJOY Christmas more, exactly, but to be more generous with it. To make other people happy that day, and think of other people who aren't so lucky. There are still too many homeless people, too many people living on the poverty line and trying to scrape together some semblance of Christmas cheer for their children... They deserve to be thought about at this time of year!

    In fact... y'know how in my '10 things to do before my next birthday' post I said I wanted to make a donation to a charity? Crisis has a system whereby you can reserve one or two or however many places for a homeless person over Christmas (which includes meals, hot showers, a haircut, a health check, clean clothes, advice and ongoing support) at about £20 per person, so I think I might do that. Thanks Katie. :)

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    Replies
    1. I like Dickens' phrase "to keep Christmas" as opposed to "celebrate" it. I think it encompasses a lot more, somehow.

      That's a really excellent idea, Ellie, and I think I'm going to follow your example in making a donation, so thank YOU for telling me about that.

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    2. There's another charity that deals specifically with younger homeless people, but I like the fact that Crisis is so inclusive and that their care involves so much. I mean, little things like a clean jumper or a haircut might not mean much to most people, but it must go a long way to helping a homeless person feel better, more like THEMSELVES, if you know what I mean? Also they get a health check, which has definitely got to be a good idea when you've been living on the street through this awful weather. :(

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