Four months is a long time in blogging world. Yes, it has been that long since my last blog post in June, and boy has the world continued to get stranger since then. I certainly am not going to use this blog to put the world straight, even if I knew what that meant, but I hope this blog is an escape from the crazy train of the world.
Actually, when you look at the history of the world, there really isn’t much that hasn’t been round before. Have you read Lessons of History by Will and Ariel Durant? Human civilisation is cyclical and pandemics were not created in 2020. These are not the best of times, but time does pass and the sun will rise again.
So, where I have been? The literature version of no man’s land. Shortly after my June blog post, I went through a very weird period. I seemed to just lose the passion for reading and I really don’t know why. Well, actually, I kind of do. I will try and explain this bit by bit.
In fact, I was going to call this blog post ‘Why I’m Not a Good Book Blogger’, which was slightly meant to be a play on the Nietzche essay ‘Why I am So Wise‘ but also just to be brutally honest that I’m not really a good person to follow on here. But I thought that title was too miserable, and who needs more of that right now?
Ok, so I said I’m not a good person to follow on here, meaning internet land. Why would I say that? Well, because life is very much in the way. My wife and I are incredibly happy raising our one year old daughter, but it takes up all of our time. I work a full time job, and when I’m not working, I give all my time to my wife and daughter.
I know some motivational speaker or instagram life coach will say time is never the problem, but they are wrong. They could only be right if they knew everybody’s circumstances, but of course they don’t, and that is why the ‘you’ve always got time’ sentiment cannot be held as truth.
If I want to maintain a wonderful relationship, do everything to help my child’s upbringing and get a healthy amount of sleep at night (LOL!), then I have to prioritise those things in life. Reading is my absolute passion, but then sometimes individual passions have to take backseat to do the right thing.
Which isn’t to say I haven’t read anything. Oh no, I must have read Peppa Pig’s Magical Unicorn eight thousand two hundred and thirty seven times to my daughter, when putting her to sleep. And maybe I’ve read it too much, but to say there aren’t avant garde, post modern themes of nihilistic mythology running through it, would be very snobby.
Our circumstances changed as well over the summer, in the sense that my mother-in-law had been very welcomely staying with us for several months, helping with our daughter, but she returned home to Poland. So my wife and I became completely on our own raising our daughter, and quickly learnt that raising a child, even between two people, is incredibly exhausting and challenging. Time was not so much the problem, as just the lack of energy and ability to focus.
I felt like I didn’t need to read either. A strange thing to say I know, as I believe that daily reading is incredibly important for our mental well-being and joy of life. But you may remember the last book I blogged about The Bright Side of Life (Le Joie de Vivre) by Émile Zola, well, that stuck with me for a very long time.
Have you ever experienced that? I think that the book got inside me more than I realised, and I couldn’t stop thinking about it for such a long time. I mean, it’s quite a simple, uncomplicated story really, but it really is lovely, and perhaps lovelier than I initially gave it credit for.
We also managed to get away for a few weeks during the window of opportunity in the summer, to visit my wife’s homeland, the beautiful country of Poland. We had our daughter christened out there at the same time. It was such a lovely day, christened in the same Basilica my wife and I were married in.
But all good (and bad) things come to an end, and returning to my humble town in West Berkshire meant cracking on with working hard on the job and raising our child. I had managed to read some pages of Cicero whilst in Poland, but didn’t really find the time or space to indulge in hours of reading over there either.
Only recently have I got back into reading the novel I started in June, The Masterpiece by Émile Zola. It is slightly ridiculous I have taken nearly four months to read a book that should have been finished in a few weeks, but that’s exactly where my passion for reading had gone.
Actually, it never helps my reading regularity when I am struggling with a book and I have been struggling with The Masterpiece. Now, I know full well that many Zola readers love this book, but it just hasn’t really clicked for me, but I will say more on that in my next blog post. I’m getting to the end of it now, so will be sharing my thoughts as part of an essay on the struggles of artists.
Other people would also say just put it down if you aren’t enjoying it, but I have committed to reading the whole cycle of Zola’s Les Rougon-Macquart novels (20 in all) and that means I just have to plough on. But with God as my witness, Zola will not be the next book I read. I am pretty much Zola’d out for now.
Along with my lack of passion for reading, my inspiration for blogging went right out the window too. I found it recently though, and I really am going to try hard to get back into the rhythm. I realise now that I really miss writing and the people who connect with this blog as well.
I am very lucky for anybody who stops by and reads this blog, when my ability to deliver regularly is just not a guarantee. I will try hard to write regularly, it is something I need to do. Not only is it my main creative outlet, but I really love talking about the classics! It was always a blog of love, not of some great ambition, but I completely understand if people don’t stick around. I am getting back to visiting fellow classic bloggers sites, and am looking forward to contributing where I can.
I have been working on another blog post, as previously mentioned, which will be posted soon, and am also compiling a list of 1001 Penguin Classics to read before you d….. erm, let’s say whilst you’re still alive. No, I haven’t read nearly 1001 books of course, but the list should cover the greatest works of literature up to the first world war, that would be a set of books to have in your library.
Until then, I hope you are all enjoying your reading and would be delighted to know what books you recommend and have been enjoying over the summer. I’m sure it was much more productive than mine!