Thursday, 6 December 2007

Seasonal Books

I haven't written about my reading for a while, but that never means that I'm not reading. Right now I am re-reading Cranford, because I had not seen any of the current BBC adaptation (which I think is excellent) until Mum came to stay and we watched it on Sunday night, and I went straight back to the book which I had read only once before, years ago.

Is it a personal oddity to feel the need to read seasonally? I don't mean Christmas Books, but fitting the book to the weather. I nearly came to grief with Barbara Kingsolver's 'Prodigal Summer' a couple of week ago, because the humid burgeoning summer was so different from the wet, cold later autumn outside. Fortunately her immense gift for evoking a particular place worked, and I could imagine warmth and greenness, even if I couldn't see it.

I should have known better, having done the same thing in the opposite direction with Tove Jansson's 'A Winter Book' earlier this year, although that was less severe because the title was chosen to tie in with 'The Summer Book', rather than because all the stories are wintry (they aren't). It's been a minor obsession for years. One of my rituals with the first snow (if there is a first snow at all) is to reach for Laura Ingalls Wilder's 'The Long Winter' and feel vicariously heroic as I battle through an inch of slush to get to work.

This week, however, the weather and my reading coincided. We still haven't had a proper frost, but it is decidedly chilly. Just the weather for 'The Voyage of the Narwhal' by Andrea Barrett, for Arctic ice, and the shameful discovery of how little I knew about Sir John Franklin (other than the folk song). I had to have the atlas out as well, as I followed the imaginary Narwhal around strange capes and sounds. But, as ever, the greatest journeys are inside the mind. This was one of my best books this year (thanks, L, for giving it to me) and I have tow more of hers in the pile waiting for me.

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