More Than is Sensible, I Know!

In recent months I have got out of the habit of talking about the books that I am reading. In this post, I will run through them. I hope that in the days and weeks to come I will be able to blog about them individually.

  1. Old Thunder – Joseph Pearce
  2. The Alchemist – Paulo Coelho
  3. My Age of Anxiety – Scott Stoffel
  4. Into the Land of Bones – Frank L. Holt
  5. Work Suspended and Other Stories – Evelyn Waugh
  6. Gay and Catholic – Eve Tushnet

Reading The Path to Rome has given me a strong desire to learn more about Hilaire Belloc.

Actually, I already know a fair bit about him, or at least I know the famous facts – Catholic journalist/writer, once an MP, always worried about money, friend of G K Chesterton etc – so what I really want to do is refresh my memory.

‘Refresh’ because I once read Joseph Pearce’s biography Old Thunder. Even before finishing Path to Rome I decided to read it again. I have a copy of the book in my room; however, I have a lot of books in there and I am too impatient to dig it out.

Instead, I have downloaded it onto my iPad. I started reading it in the pub last night and look forward to continuing my journey with Belloc for the next few weeks.

***

Speaking of the pub, Mark the landlord recommended The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho so I have bought and started reading that as well. Mark said it is a life-changing book. That’s a big claim. I had better try and forget it in case we – the book and I – don’t get along and I am more disappointed than I ought to be.

***

I am still reading My Age of Anxiety by Scott Stossel, whose life has been dominated by it to an extraordinary degree. He is a hero for not only living with it but not letting it dominate him, though I imagine as he chucks down the whiskey and drugs that he doesn’t think so.

I started reading My Age of Anxiety because I am going to write a story (novel) about a man whose life changes after he starts suffering from anxiety attacks. It’s a very personal work but I still need to learn more about anxiety, what it is, what it does, how one deals with it etc.

***

Thanks to the kindness of a a fellow (Alexander) traveller, I have been given a copy of Into The Land of Bones by Frank L. Holt to read. This is an account of Alexander the Great’s actions in Bactria and Sogdia (modern day Afghanistan and surrounding nations).

Alexander conquered Bactria and Sogdia in no time at all but then had to spend nearly two years putting down a native revolt. The revolt was conducted along traditional lines but also contained elements of guerrilla warfare and so was a big test of Alexander’s generalship – his ability to adapt to new situations. He managed to do so but it was never easy and neither Bactria or Sogdia were ever truly pacified.

***

I read mainly in the evening but also over breakfast and at lunch time.

Breakfast: Work Suspended and Other Stories by Evelyn Waugh. I bought this because I wanted to read Charles Ryder’s Schooldays (Brideshead Revisited is one of my most favourite books). I did and, well, I’m glad that I did but I have to confess it didn’t really add that much to my enjoyment of Charles Ryder’s character.

Lunch: Gay and Catholic by Eve Tushnet. Recently, I read God and the Gay Christian by Matthew Vines, which gives a convincing pro-LGBT interpretation of those passages in The Bible that refer to same sex relationships. Eve Tushnet, who is a lesbian and a Catholic, has not written a theological book, but an account of how one may live fruitfully as an LGBT person and Catholic. That’s a big ask. I wish that the Magisterium of the Catholic Church would read Matthew Vines’ book but if change ever comes I doubt it will be in my life time so we must deal with the situation on the ground.

***

Six books! That’s really too much. But it isn’t all. I am also reading a graphic novel – for the first time since the age of 18. It’s called Sunstone and is written and illustrated by Croatian artist Stjepan Sejic.

Sunstone is a romantic comedy, and despite (or because of?) the fact that it is based around a BDSM relationship, is one of the sweetest stories I have read in a long time. I am now on to the fifth and last volume and will sure miss it when I get to the last page.

***

How will I fit all these books into the available hours of the day? I won’t. There will be days when I read fewer books or not at all. I might be too tired at lunch time or busy with something else in the evening.

When I do read, though, I have a big problem – I am easily – EASILY – distracted.

To stop myself from checking social media notifications or text messages on my mobile phone while I read, therefore, I have adopted the practice of setting aside twenty minutes for each book. I use the stop watch on my mobile phone to count the minutes down.

While the timer is active, I read. I ignore any notifications that appear on the phone and read.

Ideally, my daily target is to read at breakfast and lunch and then books 1 – 4 for twenty minutes each in the evening. If I only read two or even just one, however, that is still better than none.

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