I have finally finished the list of books I set myself to read at the start of the year. It's only taken me three months longer than I anticipated to get through them all. Here is a link to my posts on the previous books included in the list. As you can see from the first post, I have revised the list slightly (!) - some books I didn't read at all, while I have added a couple that were not in the first post.
Anyway, onto my thoughts about the final two books.
Dibs in Search of Self
by Virginia M. Axline
This book has been lounging on my mum's bookshelf for years and years, and I never paid it any attention until I saw a quote from it somewhere in the bowels of the internets. Intrigued, I picked up the book and read it in the space of an evening.
It's very easy to read, and a very insightful and uplifting book. Ostensibly a book on child development and behaviour, I think many people would be able to take something away from it as ultimately it's more about emotion and the self in general, and our relationships with others. It was fascinating to read the way Dibs acted out, through play, his feelings towards his parents. The only issue I had with the book was the kid's name - Dibs? Really? Why would you change the kid's name for confidentiality reasons to a name like that? It annoyed me every time I read it, it just sounded so ridiculous.
The Well of Loneliness
by Radclyffe Hall
I realise that, at least a few years ago (perhaps not so much nowadays but I'm not so sure), mentioning this book or displaying it on your shelf was a subtle way of stating your sexual orientation to those 'in the know'. Being interested in books on sexuality/gender identity anyway, I decided to add this book to my list, as it sounded intriguing.
I have to say, though, while I appreciate it did a lot to raise awareness in the last century, I wasn't overly enamoured with it. My feelings towards it are those of a slight fondness, but it was quite angsty and melodramatic in parts, and it was basically very negative about feelings of love between anyone other than a man and a woman; as if homosexual relationships are basically doomed in some way, no matter what.
Moreover, I couldn't help comparing it to Virginia Woolf's Orlando, which was published in the same year, has similar themes, but was much more enjoyable and more my type of book. So, I don't think I will be reading The Well of Loneliness again - however, I do feel glad I have read it, and I guess it has been informative in its way.
Now I've finished my list I'm going to take a bit of a break from reading. I'm pleased to say that I have been very good and mostly kept to my original rule of not buying any more books until I'd got through this list - I only bought one, and in my defence it was at a really cool book sale at Winchester Cathedral, and it had a beautiful cover.
Reading through this list and blogging about it has, I think, made me more analytical about the books I read - which is a good thing because I didn't used to think particularly critically about them, other than simplistic views that were barely more detailed than "it was fun to read and it had a tiger in it" (Life of Pi - which, incidentally, is one of my favourite books). I also feel like I've upped my 'knowledge-ometer' by having read quite a few of the classics - I might just have to balance that out by reading five trashy crime movels in a row (NEVER).