Yesterday, on my short but emotionally stultifying walk home from work I saw two teenage girls walking and reading real novels. I smiled at them and they were properly dismissive.
I just finished a great book. I hope to be writing about it for somewhere else. I'll give you a clue: It is a novel by a Canadian author about Cambodia by one of my favorite publishers.
Around the same time I started the first volume of the Samuel Pepys (1633-1703) diaries. After the many, many introductory notes, most of which I actually read, Pepys journal begins with an account of his wife's period going missing for several weeks, Royal Navy news and the perplexing complaint of a nose swollen by the cold. He kept the diaries for 9 years.
B gave me the first three volumes of the newest translation (and supposedly best) for my birthday last year. I am glad I finally started it.
I became interested in the diaries after reading the first book of Neal Stephenson's Baroque Cycle, Quicksilver. In the novel Pepys is a kindly and compelling character, already established as a man of knowledge by the time the main character, Daniel Waterhouse, encounters him. He also eventually cuts Waterhouse's nuts open. Because he was a prolific writer, and, by all accounts a man who liked to have a good time, I am hoping that the diaries include some gossip about other (still existing) Royal Society, its members (such as Robert Hooke, Robert Boyle, Issac Newton, Christopher Wren, etc.) and their wacky experiments. So far, it is mostly about the Navy.
Have you seen the Thunder Lodge Guestbook? It's a must-read for those stuck at home.