Time for books / 4

by Lorenzo Piccoli

Last time I wrote about the books I’ve read was in June. Now, after a three-and-half-month summer break, it is definitely time to talk about books again.

In August, on my way to Fanø I managed to finish Bill Bryson’s Notes from a small Island, which I had bought in London Brighton in June. This is a really funny book, and also a useful guide to understand certain things about Great Britain. Perhaps it is a bit too long, as well as dated (it was written in the 90s). But at end the book, especially the first 100 pages, is still quite brilliant. To get the tone just read some excerpts – here is one:  “I know this goes without saying, but Stonehenge really was the most incredible accomplishment. It took five hundred men just to pull each sarsen, plus a hundred more to dash around positioning the rollers. Just think about it for a minute. Can you imagine trying to talk six hundred people into helping you drag a fifty-ton stone eighteen miles across the countryside and muscle it into an upright position, and then saying, ‘Right, lads! Another twenty like that, plus some lintels and maybe a couple of dozen nice bluestones from Wales, and we can party!’ Whoever was the person behind Stonehenge was one dickens of a motivator, I’ll tell you that.”

After reading Bill Bryson, in late August I passed to Oscar Wilde’s The picture of Dorian Gray. This is a book which is worth reading only because of one character: Lord Henry Wotton. All the other features of the novel – Dorian Gray, the painting, Victorian London… – are just corollaries of this beautifully designed character and his enormous influence. As an aside, after reading the book I watched the movie and I found it incredibly bad on every possible level.

Between August and September I finished Wake Up and Sinistri, but I won’t talk long about these two books as I’ve done it already. Jack Kerouac’s Wake Up is full of interesting quotes and it is quite enlightening in its field. In fact, I am now about to begin Herman Hesse’s Siddhartha, which I expect to be similar. Tersite Rossi’s Sinistri turned out to be a bit of a drawback, mainly because I had great expectations from the author after his first book.

Tra settembre e ottobre sono tornato ai libri italiani, con A piedidi Paolo Rumiz. Di Rumiz, tra l’altro, avevo già letto I monti naviganti, che mi era stato regalato da Marco e Francesca. Questo secondo libricino lo ho trovato quasi per caso e lo ho letto subito. Si tratta del racconto di una camminata attraverso l’Istria, il posto da dove ero appena tornato quest’estate. E’ un libro molto snello che si legge in poche ore. Eppure ci sono moltissime citazioni splendide per i maniaci delle camminate come me.

Finally, a very inspiring book I have read during the last rainy week is Bjorn Larsson’s Dreams by the Sea (Il Porto dei sogni incrociati, in Italian). The book was given to me as a present by Giulia in 2008, but I never found the time to read it. I’ve done it now, and it was well worth. It is a story about daydreaming and the rare courage of pursuing our true aspirations. A few readers of this blog might receive this book as a present from me very soon.