As I’ve shared, War and Peace has always been one of those books I hope to get to… Some day! Well, Robin has developed a plan that all but ensures I will finish the tome by late October. Volume 1 of the three-volume Everyman’s Library edition (Maude translation) is in the middle of the stack pictured above, which means, yes, I now own yet another copy of War and Peace… well, two more, if you count the audiobook to which I am listening (at twice the recorded speed) while reading. For the commonplace book:
Prince Vasili always spoke languidly, like an actor repeating a stale part.
“If no one fought except on his own conviction, there would be no wars, “ he said.
“And that would be splendid,” said Pierre.
They wept because they were friends, and because they were kind-hearted, and because they – friends from childhood – had to think about such a base thing as money, and because their youth was over…. But those tears were pleasant to them both.
I am still at work on the “Shakespeare in a Year” project. In anticipation of seeing the National Theatre Live broadcast, I put Julius Caesar before Henry V; otherwise, I am on or ahead of schedule. The Sonnets remain a slog, although, at Sonnet 82, I am actually ahead of schedule. Perhaps there is no poetry in me? But, then, how I do love the plays!
From Julius Caesar, Act IV, Scene iii:
“All this”? Ay, more. Fret till your proud heart break.
Go show your slaves how choleric you are
And make your bondmen tremble. Must I budge?
Must I observe you? Must I stand and crouch
Under your testy humor? By the gods,
You shall digest the venom of your spleen,
Though it do split you. For from this day forth,
I’ll use you for my mirth, yea, for my laughter,
When you are waspish.
For submitting the first log in the summer reading program, each patron receives a book. My husband gave me his turn, so I ended up with two beach reads: The Woman in Cabin 10 and All the Missing Girls, both of which were the light, quick respites I needed while recovering from a dental emergency. (All is well now.)
As did nearly everyone else, I found News of the World (Paulette Jiles) delightful. I actually began reading it via audiobook on the trip downstate to bring my daughters home for the summer. (We need two cars to move them in and out.) The narrator remained in my ear even when I turned to the book, and upon finishing, I promptly insisted that my husband choose it as his next audiobook. For the commonplace book:
Maybe life is just carrying news. Surviving to carry the news. Maybe we have just one message, and it is delivered to us when we are born and we are never sure what it says; it may have nothing to do with us personally but it must be carried by hand through a life, all the way, and at the end handed over, sealed.
Life was not safe and nothing could make it so, neither fashionable dresses nor bank accounts.
Reading on devices troubles me, but it was the only way I could immediately access Dream Hoarders: How the American Upper Middle Class Is Leaving Everyone Else in the Dust, Why That Is a Problem, and What to Do about It (Richard V. Reeves) when I first became interested. At the halfway point, here are my commonplace entries:
There is one good reason why many Americans feel as if the upper middle class is leaving everyone else behind: They are.
Americans in the top fifth of the income distribution – broadly, households with incomes above the $112,000 mark – are separating from the rest. This separation is economic, visible in bank balances and salaries. But it can also be seen in education, family structure, health and longevity, even in civic and community life. The economic gap is just the most vivid sign of a deepening class divide.
The big question is whether we are willing to make some modest sacrifices in order to expand opportunities for others or whether, deep down, we would rather pull up the ladder.
The debate over college debt is lively and largely misplaced. It is lively because almost everyone involved in public discourse – scholars, journalists, politicians – went to college and has children who have done or will do so. (Almost every member of Congress has a college degree.) It is misplaced because the real problem in American higher education is not about debt, but distribution and quality. The debt problem is for people from poorer backgrounds who borrow to attend bad colleges.
Other notes: I reread Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? in anticipation of the National Theatre Live broadcast. So much to press into the commonplace book, but this is destined to become a family favorite: “Martha, in my mind you’re buried in cement right up to the neck. No, up to the nose, it’s much quieter.” The Power promised more than the fragmented writing could deliver. March is one of those books that demonstrate just how important and powerful the graphic work genre is. I think I will need to reread the first three volumes of Bunker to make any sense of what is happening now. So much time passes between releases! The
three four books on the bottom represent my TBRN (to be read next) pile. We’ll have to see if that plays out.