What I’m Reading

Aside from playing Champions Online, I’ve been getting a lot of reading done. I almost always read multiple books at the same time; here’s what’s on the nightstand now:

The Lord of the Rings, for probably the sixth time cover-to-cover. I’m approaching the midpoint of The Two Towers at the moment. As ever, each time I read it I discover something new that I hadn’t seen before.

Colleen McCullough’s The First Man in Rome. This is the first of a series of historical novels dealing with the downfall of the Roman Republic from about 100 BC to the ascension of Augustus. I read most of the first book years back and own the second (The Grass Crown,) but I started over for this read. It’s by the author of The Thorn Birds, so it has the kind of kitchy swelling bosoms stuff that you’d expect, but it also has a lot of blood and guts and dirty Roman politics. This first book deals with the rise of Marius, the second of Rome’s three great military geniuses (the first being Scipio Africanus, and the third being Julius Caesar, who needs no Wikipedia link from the likes of me.)

Along with that, I’m dabbling in Plutarch’s Lives and Sallust’s The Jurguthine War, which cover various characters important to the story of The First Man in Rome or deal with some of the events thereof. I have a decent little library of ancient and medieval literature in English Translation: Greek and Roman histories, Norse sagas, old French Arthurian stuff, and the like. Many people find this kind of thing rough going, but I often find the primary sources easier to read than many modern histories, which obsess over potsherds and burial ceremonies and stuff.

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2 responses to “What I’m Reading

  1. Lord of the Rings is an odd re-read. I first tried it at age 12 and stalled just before the end of Book One. Then I re-read it about three years later and loved it. Then I tried to re-read it a couple of times in my 20s and stalled at the elven part (that really is stodgy). Then I re-read it again in my early 30s and again finished it and thoroughly enjoyed it. The last time I read it was about seven years ago, on a short holiday in Normandy, when I was on my own and it rained a lot. I got through it, but it seemed a lot less intereting, and less well-written, than I’d remembered. I doubt I’ll read it again, but you never know.

    I’m currently on a Scott Fitzgerald re-reading binge, having finished the giant short story collection and Tender is the Night, I’m now re-reading Bruccoli’s fact-rich Fitzgerald biography “Some Sort of Epic Grandeur” and then I plan to re-read Gatsby for maybe the fourth or fifth time, then make about my 3rd attempt on “The Beatiful and Damned” which I have yet to penetrate. And if I still have the energy after that, I might have another go at Zelda’s “Save Me the Waltz”, which has also defeated me in the past.

  2. Ardwulf, have you read Imperium by Richard Harris? Really quite a good novel about Republican Rome – from the point of view of Cicero’s assistant – plenty of politics, etc.