Traveling Journals

Last night, I read the next chapter of A Book of One’s Own: People and Their Diaries (1984), by Thomas Mallon in bed. Called “Travelers”, it is about diaries or journals written by people on journeys, to keep a record of the extraordinary occurrences in their lives (instead of the ordinary ones of the chroniclers covered in the first chapter ̶ of course, the two categories can overlap). Mallon mentions diaries, journals or logbooks written by diarists such as Stephen Burrough (searching for the northeast passage from Britain to Asia in 1556), the Lewis and Clark Expedition (1803-1806), Amelia Stewart Knight (journey from Iowa to Oregon in 1853), Lydia Allan Rudd (also journey to Oregon in 1853, Jane Gould (from Iowa to California in 1862), Boswell’s and Johnson’s accounts of their travels in Scotland in 1773, the journals of Queen Victoria on her trips to the Scottish Highlands, Julia Newberry (trips to Europe from Chicago in the 19th century), Gauguin’s journals of his voyage to Tahiti, David Gascoyne’s Paris journal. Louis Philippe (future king of France, traveling in America), the actress Fanny Kemble’s Journal of a Residence on a Georgian Plantation, Simone de Beauvoir and André Maurois both visiting America. Lewis Carroll and Henry Parry Liddon, who traveled together to Russia to experience the Russian Orthodox Church. The WWII diaries of Clara Milburn, who stayed at home, but whose life changed from the ordinary analogous with the upheaval of going on a journey, which is why she is lumped in with the travelers. Other authors were also mentioned, for example Siegfried Sassoon’s WW I diary. All fascinating. Lots of interesting diaries to look up and read one of these days.

I’ve never really thought about it, but it seems clear that there are hundreds of published diaries to read and uncountable ones that never got published but languish in archives or attics. Nowadays, of course, blogs. One could spend years reading nothing but journals. I certainly won’t do that, but I do believe that I’ve found a new-to-me genre to spend reading time on. Mallon’s book is a good aid in finding some interesting ones, so I’m glad I’m reading it.

Having stayed up in bed reading Mallon last night, this morning I lazed in bed reading the last few short stories in my copy of The Oxford Book of English Short Stories, edited by A. S. Byatt. Now, I really liked most of these stories, but I’ve already forgotten quite a lot the details of those I read in July and August. When I flip through the pages and dip into one or the other story, I do remember that I read it, but no details. I do a lot of reading, but I have a terrible memory. That’s partly why I started the blog, to keep a record of what I read. I do remember stories and books that I read more than once, so I’m sure I will be rereading these stories. Some books, like The Lord of the Rings, I almost know of by heart I’ve read them so often. I enjoy rereading, even if I remember the plots once I get into them. Sometimes I think that I should just keep rereading the books I own and stop getting new ones, but then, there’s so many interesting books in the world… I couldn’t do it. Maybe I ought to do a challenge, no new books for a certain period of time. Maybe next year. I do have quite a number of books both on Kindle and as hardcopy that I haven’t found time to read yet.

Today was a quiet day. I’d already gone grocery shopping yesterday, so didn’t need to go anywhere. Mum and I did, however, drive to the graveyard to check on the plants on the family plot. It’s still looking nice; we just removed a few fallen leaves and blossoms. We’ll probably have to do the winter planting in October, when I’m back from my vacation. We’ve got the plot covered in evergreen periwinkle. That’s a very hardy plant that stays green in winter and gets lovely small purple and white flowers in spring. We basically just change the potted plant. In late autumn we remove the pot and plant a Christmas rose instead. They can deal with frost and flower in winter and early spring. The flowers kind of curl up during frost and uncurl again when it’s warmer. We always try to use plants that flourish without much care since can only check on them once a month.

The morning walk with Curious Dog was pleasant. Didn’t need a jacket this morning, but it was already 9:00 a.m. when we started and quite hot in the sun by the time we returned. It got a bit cloudy in the afternoon and was pleasant, but when we went for the afternoon walk, the clouds disappeared, and it became too hot to go far. I was too lazy to go up into the woods, so we walked along the bike path in the valley. Lots of bicycle traffic. Heaps of electric-powered ones. They always come up at high speed and I have to make sure CD doesn’t get in their way. It’s a bit annoying really. The path is supposed to be shared by pedestrians and bikers and isn’t a racetrack.

Otherwise I started reading Dickens’ Barnaby Rudge. I’m rather liking it, it’s full of murder and mayhem and I’ve only read about 60 pages so far. Hope it stays interesting.

Keep safe, world.

July Reading

My belated reading report from July. I got a bit derailed in July, didn’t manage all my goals and didn’t keep a scorecard (maybe that’s why the month got away from me). But it wasn’t all bad.

Ongoing projects:

  • Leo Tolstoy, War and Peace
    138 pages, my quota for July. There’s a cliffhanger: will Andrej survive?
  • Robert Burton, The Anatomy of Melancholy
    Total fail again. Maybe I should give up for now?


Daniel Karlin (ed.), The Penguin Book of Victorian Verse
I finished the New Oxford Book of English Verse right at the mid-year mark and started up with this new anthology. It’s also very good and I’m enjoying it very much. Who’s have thought that I’d have such a good time reading poetry? Best goal I started this year.

Short Stories:

A.S. Byatt (ed.), The Oxford Book of English Short Stories
I didn’t read a lot of stories from this anthology in July, but the ones I read were all good.

Elmore Leonard, The Complete Western Stories
I read all thirty stories in this collection and mostly liked them. I did think that the later stories where better than the earlier ones, one could see improvements over time. These stories are also mostly from the point-of-view of non-Native Americans and I kind of suspect they are rather biased at times. I need to read some stories by Native Americans and will keep in mind to find an anthology or an author of short stories.


Margaret Stanger, That Quail, Robert.
An absolutely lovely story about a quail that lived with a family in New England. A short read and highly recommended.

Graphic Novel:

None. Didn’t get around to reading a graphic novel in July.


  • Charles Dickens, Martin Chuzzlewit
    This Dickens novel was ok, but I’ve read better. Will write a review (I actually already wrote one, but then I deleted it by mistake and couldn’t recover it. Very annoying.
  • Toni Morrison, Jazz
    I read this one again. It was good, but quite complex and one read wasn’t enough. So, I’m a bit behind on my Morrison reading. I wrote a review.
  • Brandon Sanderson, The Way of Kings
    A very good fantasy novel, the first in a series of four, where the fourth is coming out later this year. I’m doing a BookTube readalong of the first three books. It has great characters and super world-building. Looking forward to the other books in the series, and strongly recommend it.
  • Anthony Trollope, Can You Forgive Her
    Started this one in June and finished in July. I liked it a lot and still plan to write a review.

So, I didn’t reach all my goals this month, but didn’t do too badly, except that I didn’t read a new Morrison and missed out on the graphic novel. August is three-quarters done, and I still haven’t finished my next Morrison, haven’t started the Dickens or the graphic novel. I’ll have to buck up. Guess I’m getting a bit fed up with the goals. I’ve read a lot so far in August, just not the novels I’ve got in my reading goals. But I’ve still got time.

Keep safe, world.