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Heavy weather – cwtch up, cwtch down with a good book?


John William Waterhouse ‘I am half sick of shadows, said the lady of Shalott’. (Commons Wiki)

Norm (and others) have come up with an idea which is one of the best kind for these tired times. It’s simple, both instructive and convivial – and is also very, very revealing (always an intriguing element: in the blogosphere there’s no hiding place; no such thing as a mere list …). I’ve taken a liberal interpretation, hem, hem, of the original concept. My criterion restricts the list to novels I’ve read at least twice and would happily read again. And I had a lot of fun, recalling memorable books, characters, incidents, passages … loads of things, some pleasurable, some wince-inducing, all enriching one way or another. I owe so much to all of these writers. My choices are below.

[Oh, and ‘cwtch’? It is a deliciously onomatopoeic Welsh word – a sensual, landscape-loving language, as far as my severely-limited study could tell. ‘Cwtch’ means a hug; to cuddle or snuggle; the under-stairs storage space or cupboard all good Welsh homes should have (and a great boon it is, too).]

Peter Ackroyd, Dan Leno and the Limehouse Golem
Kingsley Amis, The Old Devils
Martin Amis, Money
Kate Atkinson, Human Croquet
Margaret Atwood, Lady Oracle
Jane Austen, Persuasion
Pat Barker, Regeneration
Sybille Bedford, Jigsaw
Malcolm Bradbury, The History Man
André Brink, An Instant in the Wind
Mikhail Bulgakov, The Master and Margarita
Albert Camus, La Peste
Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland
Angela Carter, Nights at the Circus
Bruce Chatwin, On the Black Hill
Daniel Defoe, Moll Flanders
Charles Dickens, Bleak House
Dorothy Dunnett, The Lymond Chronicles + The House of Niccòlo *
Maria Edgeworth, Castle Rackrent
George Eliot, Middlemarch
J G Farrell, Troubles
Penelope Fitzgerald, The Gate of Angels
Gustave Flaubert, Madame Bovary
Michael Frayn, Towards the End of the Morning
Stella Gibbons, Cold Comfort Farm
Thomas Hardy, Far from the Madding Crowd
Jaroslav Hasek, The Good Soldier Schweik
Elizabeth Jane Howard, After Julius
Richard Hughes, The Fox in the Attic
Victor Hugo, Notre-Dame de Paris (The Hunchback of …)
Aldous Huxley, Brave New World
Ruth Prawer Jabhvala, Heat and Dust
Henry James, The Turn of the Screw
James Joyce, Ulysses
Hans Hellmut Kirst, The Revolt of Gunner Asch
Milan Kundera, The Joke
Doris Lessing, The Grass is Singing
David Lodge, Nice Work
Norah Lofts, Bless this House
Hilary Mantel, A Place of Greater Safety
Ian McEwan, The Comfort of Strangers
George Meredith, Diana of the Crossways
Patrick Modiano, La Rue des Boutiques Obscures
Shiva Naipaul, Fireflies
Nuala O’Faolain, My Dream of You
George Orwell, Animal Farm
Thomas Love Peacock,  Nightmare Abbey
Tim Pears, In the Place of Fallen Leaves
Anthony Powell, Books Do Furnish a Room
Raymond Queneau, Zazie dans le Métro

Mark Rutherford (William Hale White), Autobiography of Mark Rutherford/Deliverance **
Paul Scott, Staying On
Walter Scott, Ivanhoe
Muriel Spark, The Girls of Slender Means
Stendhal (Marie-Henri Beyle), Le Rouge et le Noir
Graham Swift, Waterland
Elizabeth Taylor, The Soul of Kindness
Paul Theroux, The Family Arsenal
Rose Tremain, Sacred Country
William Trevor, Mrs Eckdorf in O’Neill’s Hotel
Mark Twain, Huckleberry Finn
Leo Tolstoy, War and Peace
Voltaire (François-Marie Arouët), Candide
Evelyn Waugh, The Ordeal of Gilbert Pinfold
Fay Weldon, The Heart of the Country
Raymond Williams, People of the Black Mountains ***
Angus Wilson,  Anglo-Saxon Attitudes
Virginia Woolf, Orlando

*          I know, I know (sigh): all 14 of ’em.

**        Usually published in the one volume and, having read the first, you will continue …?
***      There are two volumes: take your pick!

Now, what about your choices?

  1. 25/11/2010 09:41

    Gosh, what a lot of books. I rarely read a book twice. Waterland is one I must re-read sometime. There is some wonderful stuff on this list, but often you have chosen books by authors I have read but not that particular book if you see what I mean.

    • Minnie permalink
      26/11/2010 12:16

      Hello, Tom – and do re-read Waterland! Whether or not a book stands up to a second reading is my personal acid-test, so I have to apply it – anything less would be hypocritical, hem, hem. Luckily, I mostly have a terrific time re-visiting old fictional haunts.

  2. 26/11/2010 11:30

    Wow, Minnie. The list of books I’ve read twice would be much much shorter.

    • Minnie permalink
      26/11/2010 12:24

      Ah, y’see Norm, 34 years of commuting on public transport (+ ability to grit teeth and read at same time – even on the Waterlooo-City Line in the rush hour): there has to be some compensation! Also, during same period, either had no telly or minimal interest in watching same. And I get terribly attached to things, stories, etc.
      Hope new home & location are a delight.

  3. 26/11/2010 15:08

    Great list! Some are very familiar, others are being noted down in my never ending reading wishlist (which has been much increased since I started blogging!)

    Loved catching up on older posts – particularly the plumbing incident, which had me laughing into my keyboard! 🙂

    • Minnie permalink
      26/11/2010 16:06

      Hello again, Karen – it seems like no time since I last heard from you. Glad you enjoyed your catch-up – and that plumber certainly made me laugh :-).

      Not surprised in the circs to find we share the odd favourite read, and hope you enjoy the noted ones in time. Now off to read your latest news – totsiens!

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