Reading plans

Sample Sunday: the peasant, the author and the mother

While attempting to bring some order to my bookshelves earlier this week, I pulled out three more candidates for Sample Sunday. They all have titles beginning with the letter R.

Raised From The Ground by José Saramango

This early work by the Portuguese author José Saramango is described as a “multigenerational family saga which paints a sweeping portrait of twentieth-century Portugal.” He’s one of the many Nobel Laureates I’ve never read though I own two of his books — this one and the later novel “Blindness”.

The Verdict:  Having just read Ursula le Guin’s review in The Guardian, I’m inclined to keep this.

The Real Jane Austen by Paula Byrne

This one had fallen down the back of the book case but that isn’t the reason I’ve not yet read Byrne’s biography. I’ve I’ve picked it off the shelf a few times but after a couple of pages have always returned it to its slot.

The content isn’t the issue — it’s the size of text in my edition that is offputting, It’s tiny, just as Austen’s own writing was. Byrne eschews the traditional biography birth to death format in favour of revealing Austen’s life and character through a series of objects. Examples include a vellum notebook; a topaz cross; a writing box and a bathing machine, each of them connected with a key moment in Austen’s life.

The Verdict: I like the idea of conveying someone’s life through personal objects. Far more engaging than just dates and places and names. So I think I’ll keep this and remember to read it under a strong light.

Revolutionary Road by Richard Yates

It’s a mystery why I haven’t got around to reading this because it sounds the kind of book I would find engrossing. Set in 1955, the  book  focuses on the hopes and aspirations of a married couple living in a Connecticut suburb. They are dissatisfied with the dreariness of their lives, believing that they were destined for something more. An unplanned pregnancy is the catalyst for marital discord.

The Verdict: Definitely keeping this one and though I don’t like to plan my reading, I’m making a mental note to read it soon.

Sample Sunday is when I take a look at all the unread books on my shelves and decide which to keep and which to let free. The goal isn’t to shrink the TBR as such, but rather it’s about making sure my shelves have only books I do want to read. So what do you think of the decisions I’ve reached? If you’ve read any of these books I’d love to hear from you.


What do you need to know about me? 1. I'm from Wales which is one of the countries in the UK and must never be confused with England. 2. My life has always revolved around the written and spoken word. I worked as a journalist for nine years then in international corporate communications 3. My tastes in books are eclectic. I love realism and hate science fiction and science fantasy. 4. I am trying to broaden my reading horizons geographically by reading more books in translation

12 thoughts on “Sample Sunday: the peasant, the author and the mother

  • By Saramago, I have only read Blindness, which impressed me a lot

  • I know what you mean, I am worse these days with my reading in that I am a very poor reader and this started last year with those author giveaways and because I feel obliged to read them…no I became a poor reader after finishing college as it was for nothing. We missed this book sale that was to happen this weekend; a bag of books for $5 (we’ve yet to go through that bag of books from the last book sale), a wonderful deal but we could not make it because it was too much running around this weekend, and probably best since I always feel set up with being out with another than that husband of mine; they drop a name as if it is not him; I don’t make sense that’s my quirk in life. Always remember the ‘intent’ for obtaining a book and reading it someday is good; if it does not happen well, you had it for a time as owner of the book, and if you let it go then fine. I gave up a lot of good books when I had no place to live and what I learned from that experience is to not purchase new books often; secondhand is perhaps best. I am homeless if not for this husband of mine; I am not earnest. Take care and good day.

  • I found this “Sample Sunday: the peasant, the author and the mother” to be laughable when I started reading this; perhaps it is not meant to be amusing and yet it has been for me so thank you. Also, one does not place books on one’s shelf without the intent to read them someday. I like that in one instance: “So I think I’ll keep this and remember to read it under a strong light.; and still another instance: Definitely keeping this one and though I don’t like to plan my reading, I’m making a mental note to read it soon.” My only question is when? Thanks this was truly fun for me to read. Laughable… bookworm, bookish is you!

    • So glad I gave you a reason to laugh. We all need those moments…..
      Yes of course we buy books with the clear intention of reading them but something seems to happen between the purchase and actually getting the book to the house

  • Saramago, definitely. As I said in my review, “it’s a beautiful, life-affirming book that gives voice to a segment of society that very rarely is heard”.
    And the Yates. I wasn’t expecting to like this because I don’t usually get on too well with books about the emptiness of American life. But I really liked it.

    • Good to have that confirmation Lisa. So many good books lurking on my shelves – all I need is more time to actually get to them

      • I think I’m more fond of Raised from the Ground than I am of any other Saramago, and I really, really do like everything I’ve read of his. It’s the love of his family that shines through it, even though the life of a Spanish peasant was harsh.

  • I would probably have kept all three of those as well. I particularly like the sound of the Saramago book. Portugal is a country I don’t seem to have read much about.

    • I’ve not read any Portuguese fiction either Helen. Nearest I got was Spain but I didn’t much like the book so never felt tempted to buy another one by Javier Marias

    • Thanks for that insight. I suspect I would really enjoy it – just need to get over the issue of the print size


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