2015 reading: here are some numbers.

this is why i like the end of the year.  >:3

in 2015, i read 68 books*, and here are my top 7 from those 68 (in no particular order) (or, rather, in the order i posted them on instagram, which was in no particular order).

  1. helen macdonald, h is for hawk (jonathan cape, 2014)
  2. alex mar, witches of america (FSG, 2015)
  3. patricia park, re jane (viking, 2015)
  4. rebecca solnit, the faraway nearby (penguin, 2014, paperback)
  5. jonathan franzen, purity (FSG, 2015)
  6. han kang, human acts (portobello, 2016)
  7. robert s. boynton, the invitation-only zone (FSG, forthcoming 2016)

(you can find quotes and reasons why i chose these 7 on my instagram.)

* as of this posting time.  i still have two days to read more!

in 2015, i went to 38 book events and readings, and here are 10 i particularly enjoyed.

  1. marie mutsuki mockett and emily st. john mandel with ken chen at AAWW
  2. michael cunningham at columbia
  3. meghan daum with glenn kurtz at mcnally jackson
  4. kazuo ishiguro and caryl phillips at the 92Y
  5. aleksandar hemon with sean macdonald at mcnally jackson
  6. alexandra kleeman and patricia park with anelise chen at AAWW
  7. lauren groff at bookcourt
  8. jonathan franzen with wyatt mason at st. joseph's college
  9. patti smith with david remnick at the new yorker festival
  10. alex mar with leslie jamison at housingworks bookstore

(both franzen events had no-photo policies.)

in 2015, i took 34 photos of books with pie.  mind you, this is not the number of times i ate pie.  this is simply the number of times i went to eat pie and decided to photograph it with the book i was reading at the time.  and by pie, i mean pie from four and twenty blackbirds because their pie is delicious and not too sweet and totally worth going to gowanus for (so, if you're in nyc, go get some!).

here are 5 photos of books with pie because it would be unnecessarily mean of me to torture you with all 34 slices of amazing pie, wouldn't it?


in 2015, i took 38 photos of books with stitch.

i suppose, to provide some context:  i love stitch.  lilo and stitch is one of my favorite movies (we're talking top 3 here).  i've had this stitch for 13 years.  i still shamelessly take him with me everywhere (he's in california with me right now).  obviously, he popped up every now and then with a book.

here are 5 photos of books with stitch.  i'm totally choosing how many photos to post arbitrarily (in multiples of 5, though, so maybe not so arbitrarily?).


in 2015, my book club started, and we read 10 books.  we've now eased into a routine of meeting at my friend's apartment and having a potluck, but we were absent this routine the first two times we met, hence the three out-of-place photos.  i know; it's making me a little twitchy, too; but we'll have 12 consistent flat-lays from 2016!

  1. marilynne robinson, lila (FSG, 2014)
  2. alice munro, the beggar maid (vintage, 1991) (first published 1977)
  3. kazuo ishiguro, an artist of the floating world (vintage,1989) (first published 1986)
  4. margaret atwood, the stone mattress (nan a. talese, 2014)
  5. jeffrey eugenides, the virgin suicides (picador, 2009) (first published 1993)
  6. ta-nehisi coates, between the world and me (random house, 2015)
  7. virginia woolf, mrs. dalloway (vintage, 1992) (first published 1925)
  8. michael cunningham, the hours (FSG, 1998)
  9. nikolai gogol, the complete tales (vintage, 1999)
  10. nathaniel hawthorne, short stories (vintage, 1955)

(we combined two months, so i didn't have 10 photos, so i included the nachos i ate when we met to discuss munro's the beggar maid.)

in 2015, i became much more brutal with dropping books because life is too short for books that simply don't hold your interest.  i intentionally dropped 13 books.

  1. claire messud, the woman upstairs (knopf, 2013):  so. boring. nothing. happens.
  2. cheryl strayed, tiny beautiful things (vintage, 2012):  i started reading this in earnest, but then i skimmed it with a friend, and then i never went back to it.  strayed’s columns are generally hit or miss for me.
  3. atul gawande, being mortal (metropolitan books, 2014):  this wasn’t what i was expecting it to be ... though i’m also not entirely sure what i was expecting it to be.  i think i was expecting more profundity, and i wasn’t taken by the writing.
  4. renee ahdieh, the wrath and the dawn (putnam, 2015):  omg, the sheer amount of adverbs in this made me want to throttle the book.  i always read with a pencil to mark passages i like or to jot down thoughts, but i read this with a pencil to cross out all the adverbs and circle all the different variations of “said” --  i want to ban her from using a thesaurus ever again.  and limit how many adverbs she's allowed to use.
  5. rebecca mead, my life in middlemarch (crown, 2014):  i really liked what i read of this, but i finished middlemarch and didn’t like that that much, so i never did finish the mead.
  6. rabih alameddine, an unnecessary woman (grove, 2014):  i just stopped reading this -- like, i put it down for the day and kind of forgot i’d ever started reading it, which was weird because i started reading it on oyster books and liked it enough that i bought the paperback … and then i never went back to it and probably never will.
  7. ta-nehisi coates, between the world and me (random house, 2015):  i know; i’m horrible for dropping this; but i did.  i never finished reading it for book club, and i didn’t finish it after book club and have no inclination to pick it up again.
  8. jesse ball, a cure for suicide (pantheon, 2015):  this tried too hard to be … whatever the hell it is.
  9. virginia woolf, mrs. dalloway (vintage, 1992):  ugh.  i'm sorry, michael cunningham, but UGH.
  10. emile zola, thêrèse raquin (penguin, 2010):  given the plot, this is going to sound bizarre, but i was bored to death with this.  it was so predictable.
  11. philip weinstein, jonathan franzen (bloomsbury, 2015):  given my unabashed, vocal love for franzen, you’d think i’d be all over this, but, as it turns out -- and i say this in the most non-creepy way possible -- i know way too much about franzen’s bio already.  also, my brain kept going off in all sorts of directions because it’s already full with my own critical analyses of franzen, and weinstein’s writing is very flat.  one day, i'll write about franzen.
  12. shirley jackson, we have always lived in the castle (penguin, 2006):  so. boring. nothing. happens.
  13. nathaniel hawthorne, short stories (vintage classics, 2011):  (no comment.)

in 2015, i took a lot of photos of books with food, and i am not going to count them all.  here are 5 i randomly chose so that i'd have 7 "in 2015"s instead of 6.


and that's all, folks!  stay tuned for my year-end recap coming ... at some point in the next two weeks.  >:3  happy new year!

hello monday! (150511) aka middlemarch, part six.


currently in california, which means family, friends, and tons of amazing food that is not as great in new york.  like korean food.  and tacos.  and philz, but philz isn't even in new york.

i [clearly] did not finish middlemarch last week (oh, well, stupid ambitions!), but, luckily for me, middlemarch is available on oyster books!  i'm glad i didn't have to lug that brick of a book across the country with me but still get to progress along in the novel and hopefully finish it soon.  it's hard in california, though -- i only have so many days to see so many people and eat so much food.  ^^

i've been much too immersed in the world of middlemarch.  i dreamt that i was in middlemarch yesterday.  that's a sure sign that i'm obsessed or preoccupied with something ...

i must confess that i'm a little weary of middlemarch.  it's been over a week since i dove into this world, and i haven't been reading anything else, which in and of itself is pretty remarkable because i tend to have a few books going at the same time.  and, when i pick one to stick to, i finish it relatively quickly.

it's not that middlemarch is dull or not interesting.  i am drawn to the characters, some more than others, and i have opinions on all of them.  like, i don't necessarily like dorothea, but i sympathize with her -- i understand why she deferred so much to causabon, and i get most of her motivations, though i also find her "goodness" irritating.  i like will because he tends to say things out loud.  i can't stand rosemary and her general immaturity, her self-centeredness, her lack of substance, and i decidedly don't like her after she told will about the condition in causabon's will -- she didn't do so out of concern for a friend but for her own ego in her own self-centered way.  fred's silly in similar ways, but he seems generally harmless, though, i don't know, i don't want mary to marry him because she deserves better.  i like farebrother.  i don't think much of lydgate, honestly, except that he has no one to blame for the financial problems he's gotten himself into because he went into marriage with these stupid ideals (there's a passage about this, but i marked it up in my hard copy, and i am not willing to scroll through middlemarch on my ipad and find it at the moment).  i have no patience for mr. brooke because he seems like a slitherer-outer, and i don't like bulstrode, either, because what the hell -- lying to a woman about the whereabouts of her daughter so he could marry her (the mother) and inherit her fortune, then, decades later, telling the grandson that, oh, i knew where your mother was, but i didn't tell her mother, but, here, i'll give you x-amount of money per year and offer you these other financial incentives now, so we're cool, yeah?

at the same time, though, i don't necessarily care.  i'm not that invested in any of the characters or in any of the happenings, and part of it is also the writing.  eliot doesn't linger in moments, and she doesn't really explore things beyond what is happening in the scene -- like, we do get to get inside these characters' heads and see what they're thinking and why they are or are not saying the things they're thinking, but then that's it, and we're continuing along this ride.  the closest analogy i can think of is the backlot studio ride at universal studios:  you sit on a tram that travels through different sets, whether it be a town set or an earthquake set or a flash flood set or a collapsing bridge, but you don't sit and linger in the feelings each set is staged to make you feel because the tram moves steadily on.  middlemarch makes me think of that because eliot doesn't make much of the emotional beats -- in fact, i find the novel rather flat emotionally.  it's not that emotion or feeling is entirely absent, but middlemarch lacks resonance, so it fails to take deep root, even if i'm spending so much time with this book, in this world, with these characters.

i wonder if i'll remember this book because of the sheer effort of the project?  blogging it has definitely helped, though, because it's made me pay better attention and try to think about things, like the role money plays, which i'll talk about on another day, or prejudices or generally just big picture things i might lose track of usually.  blogging has also helped in maintaining motivation in pressing on with this novel because, to be honest, i probably would have set it aside if i hadn't committed to blogging it.  and i would still be tempted to set it aside if it weren't the blogging thing.  and if i weren't so fucking close to the end.  i'm on BOOK SEVEN.  seven of eight!  OMG.

at the same time, i must add that i have been enjoying middlemarch.  sure, blogging it might have been extra motivation not to give up, but middlemarch has genuinely been enjoyable and generally entertaining.  the pages haven't been lagging much, and eliot really is an insightful, comprehensive writer, so middlemarch has also been a very thoughtful read.

that said, i'm also excited that the end is nigh, and i'm sooooo looking forward to diving into other books.  i can't wait to start atul gawande's being mortal (metropolitan books, 2014), and, once i get back to new york later this week, i have to read margaret atwood's the stone mattress (nan a. talese, 2014) for book club on saturday.  i'm not quite sure where i'll go after that -- thinking of picking up kate bolick's spinster (crown, 2015) and still have to finish michael cunningham's the hours (FSG, 1998) and amy rowland's the transcriptionist (alonquin, 2014) -- but we'll see what my reading brain desires when we get to that point.

i'm going to focus on middlemarch until i've finished it, then finish rebecca mead's my life in middlemarch (which i LOVE -- i'm glad i read middlemarch if only because i got to read my life in middlemarch), so my last middlemarch post will focus on the mead!  thanks so much to those who've stuck with my middlemarch posts!  we're almost at the end!  woohoo!

hello friday! (150508) aka middlemarch, part five.


(sprinkles cupcakes are terrible.)

in chapter 4 of my life in middlemarch, rebecca mead writes:

"we all grumble at 'middlemarch,'" a reviewer for the spectator said.  "but we all read it, and all feel that there is nothing to compare with it appearing at the present moment in the way of english literature, and not a few of us calculate whether we shall get the august number before we go for our autumn holiday, or whether we shall have to wait for it till we return."  with book four, we are approaching the very middle of middlemarch -- and even though i know well how the novel concludes, the riddle posed in chapter 30 always beguiles me with its suggestion of alternative fates, of different love matches, of other possible endings.

certain genres of fiction derive their satisfactions from the predictability of their conclusion.  the reader knows where things are going to end up:  in a romance the lovers are united; in a detective story the murder mystery is solved.  there is a pleasure in the familiarity of the journey.  but a successful realist novel necessarily takes unpredictable turns in just the way real life predictably must.  the resolution of middlemarch, even as seen in prospect halfway through the book, cannot possibly be completely tidy.  (an example:  mary garth has two possible suitors, fred vincy and mr. farebrother.  both have qualities to recommend them, but at least one is bound to be disappointed.)  middlemarch permits the reader to imagine other possible directions its characters might take, leading to entirely different futures, and as so often in life, love is the crossroads.  (mead, 113-4)

one.  imagine a time when novels were serialized and people anticipated the next installment, couldn't wait to read it and discuss it and simmer in anticipation for the next.  imagine that.

two.  this made me think of hillary kelly's article in the washington post about the serialized novel, which was linked on melville house's fabulous blog with discussion, all of which makes me think of the paris review, which recently serialized rachel cusk's outline (published in book form by FSG in 2015) (excerpts from the paris review:  part 01, part 02, part 03, part 04).  also i swear the paris review recently said they were going to start serializing another novel in their next issue -- or the fall issue -- but this is the problem with following all things literary on twitter, instagram, tumblr, facebook, and subscribing to publishing newsletters and reading blogs like the melville house blog, the paris review blog, lit hub -- i can't remember where i read this (spent the last 15 minutes trying to find it), but i swear i did, and it makes me happy, the end.

three.  that last sentence in the paragraphs quoted above is one reason i feel compelled to keep going with middlemarch.  i honestly don't know what's going to happen, not in any constructed narrative way but in the way that it is in life with life's penchant for throwing curveballs as it pleases, and i'm finding it just interesting enough to keep the pages flipping.

four.  mr. farebrother > fred vincy.

five.  ... because i don't like the number four?

book four of middlemarch is when i decided that i despised causabon.  what a selfish man.  it wasn't even the stupid clause in his will that did it for me; it was the stupid request he lay before dorothea after waking her in the night because he felt restless so she had to wake up and read to him so he could edit via dictation, when he says:

'before i sleep, i have a request to make, dorothea.'

'what is it?' said dorothea, with a dread in her mind.

'it is that you will let me know, deliberately, whether, in case of my death, you will carry out my wishes:  whether you will avoid doing what i should deprecate, and apply yourself to do what i should desire.'  (eliot, 477)

oh my god, you selfish man, you'll be dead -- what does it matter to you what she does with her life?  she's a human being, not something you can control and order around, and i was glad that dorothea hesitates, doesn't give him an answer right away and asks for more time.  it's not fair for her, either, because she ends up getting no sleep and struggles away, aware that he's asking for too much:

still, there was a deep difference between that devotion to the living, and that indefinite promise of devotion to the dead.  (eliot, 479)

in the end, it's moot because he dies, and, instead, dorothea's left with a stupid, petty condition in his will that bars her from the property if she marries ladislaw.  she can marry anyone else, but she can't marry ladislaw, all because of causabon's small-minded jealousy -- and part of me laughed over all this because i couldn't help but think that, if dorothea so bends herself under her husband's will and causabon is so selfish and petty, they must have had some incredibly unsatisfactory sex.  if they had sex at all beyond the consummation of the marriage, that is ...

it's already saturday, which means, drat, i'm going to have to haul this brick of a book to california after all.  i was planning on taking atul gawande's being mortal (metropolitan books, 2014), but i'm thinking maybe i'll just take middlemarch and my life in middlemarch instead.  that should be enough reading because i don't have a lot of free time in california, anyway, especially when i only have four days to cram as many people in as i can.

i'll still be posting a middlemarch update tomorrow, though, so check back for that!  and i promise to talk about characters other than dorothea and causabon.  :D

middlemarch, part four.



and honestly wondering about long books and their merits.

here's a sort of confession:  i'm not a big fan of long books.  i'm not one to commit to long books easily, and i'm actually intensely wary of long books because i opine that very few books should be longer than 400 pages -- the excess of pages encourages indulgent writing and/or meandering story-telling, both of which try my patience.

eliot isn't really guilty of indulgent writing; i'm enjoying how sparse and frankly unremarkable her prose is; and i think her plain style of writing serves the story well.  i also can't say she's guilty of meandering story-telling, per se, but there is a sense of inaction, of nothing really happening in middlemarch.  i'm not saying the story is completely stagnant, though, because, obviously, things are happening in these pages in the sense that people are living their lives and life moves on -- it's worth noting that the subtitle to middlemarch is "a study of provincial life," which is the perfect summation of the novel and why i wonder if it really requires almost 850 pages.

i won't say that i'm bored because i'm not.  at the same time, though, am i really excited or enthused or falling over to recommend this to people?  not really?  i enjoy middlemarch in that i enjoy these glimpses into what life was like in certain places during certain times (a similar book i think of is tolstoy's anna karenina; that's the book that made me fall in love with nineteenth-century russia), but i wonder if we really need 850 pages of it, if the book wouldn't be better served if it were 100-200 pages lighter.

the cat just made a loud whimpering sound from where she sleeps on my pillow.  heh, did i utter an offensive thought?  wanting to shave 100-200 pages off this "classic"?

i finished book four today and am moving on to book five tomorrow, and i admit to finding myself a little restless.  this might also be my mood tonight, but i find myself growing impatient with dorothea and causabon particularly, the drama that causabon's written in his head about dorothea and will, the nefariousness he's convinced himself is true, never mind that it's built entirely on his assumptions and presumptions.  i'm also impatient with dorothea's supposed meekness, the ways she simply swallows her unhappiness or discontentment or irritation at her husband's coldness, and she's clearly got a head of her own, so i want her to say something instead of sitting in her boudoir and letting herself be taken by small gestures.  (and i keep coming back to dorothea and causabon because the books keep ending on them, so they're fresh in mind.)  i'm also not that taken by the small town politics, all the pages dedicated to the cadwalladers' and chettam's concern over mr. brooke going into politics, and i frankly don't care much about rigg and his issues with his stepfather, raffles, and honestly groaned at the drama being hinted at between them.

however, even so, i'm still reading, which i suppose says enough.  i'm still interested enough to look forward to packing this brick of a book in a bag in my tote and pulling it out on the subway or at lunch or with coffee the next day.  i'm still intrigued enough to turn the pages and find out how life keeps chugging along for these people.  i'm still invested enough to care, to want happiness and contentment for these characters, to wish that they'd get out of their heads and start talking to each other instead of running on their own assumptions or ideas of how things should be.  i'm still reading even though there are still over 400 pages to go and part of me groans over that.

and, while i acknowledge that part of that is the charm of middlemarch, another part is simply that i'm greatly enjoying the act of reading middlemarch and blogging about it.  in many ways, it's been a huge comfort this week.  i obviously haven't been reading as fast as i'd have liked, but i've found much pleasure reading willfully every day and sitting at my macbook and trying to sort out my thoughts to tap out a post.  it's not like anything very profound or deep has come of it, but there's something to be said about the comforts of routine, of having something you've committed to and knowing that it's there, waiting to be done at the end of the day before you can go to bed.  i don't know.  maybe that sounds cheesy, but it's true, and i wonder if i'd have stuck with middlemarch or enjoyed it as much if i weren't doing this either.

anyway, tomorrow's friday, and hopefully i'll have more time to read.  will start by reading chapter 4 in rebecca mead's my life in middlemarch, then we'll be off into book five of middlemarch!

middlemarch, part three.


unfortunately, i did not have as much time today to dedicate to reading, so i didn't make much headway into book four, "three love problems" -- so let's talk about marriage.

in chapter 34, we see where the foundation of the problems lie in the dorothea/causabon union:  they don't communicate.  in this situation, the issue at hand is causabon's young cousin, will ladislaw, whom causabon did not want back at lowick (where causabon is) but mr. brooke (dorothea's uncle), daft and dense that he is, invited to stay with him at tipton grange.  of course, causabon is unaware that dorothea did not ask her uncle to extend such an invitation to the unwanted cousin, but causabon thinks that dorothea did, so he is displeased with her, but she does not explain or defend herself to him.  and where such assumptions grow wild, how can trust grow?

it would all be comical if it weren't so sad.

let us examine their reasons for marriage.  or what they seek in a spouse.

in book one, upon learning from her uncle that causabon is intending to propose marriage to her, dorothea says,

'i should not wish to have a husband very near my own age,' said dorothea, with grave decision.  'i should wish to have a husband who was above me in judgment and in all knowledge.'

mr. brooke repeated his subdued, 'ah? -- i thought you had more of your own opinion than most girls.  i thought you liked your own opinion -- liked it, you know.'

'i cannot imagine myself living without some opinions, but i should wish to have good reasons for them, and a wise man could help me to see which opinions had the best foundation, and would help me to live according to them.'  (eliot, 40-1)

and then there's causabon's reasons for marriage in book three:

he had done nothing exceptional in marrying -- nothing but what society sanctions, and considers an occasion for wreaths and bouquets.  it had occurred to him that he must not any longer defer his intention of matrimony, and he had reflected that in taking a wife, a man of good position should expect and carefully choose a blooming young lady -- the younger the better, because more educable and submissive -- of a rank equal to his own, of religious principles, virtuous disposition, and good understanding.  on such a young lady he would make handsome settlements, and he would neglect no arrangement for her happiness:  in return, he should receive family pleasures and leave behind him that copy of himself which seemed so urgently required of a man -- to the sonneteers of the sixteenth century.  times had altered since then, and no sonneteer had insisted on mr. causabon's leaving a copy of himself; moreover, he had not yet succeeded in issuing copies of his mythological key; but he had always intended to acquit himself by marriage, and the sense that he was fast leaving the years behind him, that the world was getting dimmer and that he felt lonely, was a reason to him for losing no more time in overtaking domestic delights before they too were left behind by the years.  (eliot, 278)

what, is that the male equivalent of a ticking clock?

maybe the thing is that these aren't totally antiquated reasons for seeking marriage.  dorothea's reasons may be more extreme, yes, but there are women who want to be led, who seek guidance and leadership in their spouses, and i'm not criticizing that, granted that it's what the woman wants, because there are many types of women out there who want (and require) different types of spouses.  at the same time, though, dorothea's repeated insistence on wanting an older man to guide her and instruct her makes me think shudderingly of ephesians 5:22-24:

(22) wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord.  (23) for the husband is head of the wife, as also Christ is the head of the church; and He is the savior of the body.  (24) therefore, just as the church is subject to Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything.  (NKJV)

i don't know (and don't necessarily think) that this is where dorothea's coming from, but it's what comes to my mind.  and i say "shudderingly" because i've always hated the sermons i've heard throughout my adolescence about this damn passage, especially in connection with the married lives and expectations that i've seen practiced -- a man and woman get married; woman stays home; they have multiple children; and woman rears children.  i am NOT criticizing this family model, granted that it is the woman's choice; i've seen it work wonderfully in loving, healthy marriages that have produced loving, healthy families; but, as a woman who's always known that she didn't want children or to be a housewife, i've always been personally uncomfortable with this model because there is no room for anything else.

but, anyway, sermons about ephesians 5 never failed to piss me off because pastors tended to focus more heavily on the above-quoted verses 22-24 without giving the following verses more weight:

(25) husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her, (26) that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the Word, (27) that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish.  (28) so husbands ought to love their own wives as their own bodies; he who loves his wife loves himself.  (29) for no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as the Lord does the church.  (NKJV)

i know; i don't pick the most accessible translation (but i confess to a personal bias for the new king james); but, if you look past the religious-ese, husbands are called to a whole lot of love and sacrifice.  (i say look past the religious-ese and offer more religious-ese.)  it wasn't until i heard a sermon about verses 25-29, illuminating what this calling of marriage means, what the comparisons to  Christ's love for the church and His leadership actually mean for husbands, that i finally stopped hissing internally whenever someone preached on ephesians 5.

dorothea, though, makes me think of the youth group/adolescent takeaway of ephesians 5, where we hear (and are told), "wives, submit to your husbands."  hell, when i think of it, i think of causabon, too, this notion that the man should lead absolutely and the woman should follow blindly (and i know i'm talking so heteronormatively, but forgive me for the context of us talking about middlemarch here) -- because the sermon starts, "wives, submit to your husbands," and ends, "wives, submit to your husbands."

and, given this interpretation, which is entirely my own, it's no wonder that dorothea looks for that older, instructive man to guide her and teach her and that causabon looks for that "blooming young lady" (omg, barf) who is "educable and submissive" (double barf).

on that note, i do appreciate that eliot dives right into marriage.  i love that she ignores the courtship and the romancing and the wooing, that celia announces her engagement to chettam in one chapter and, bam, a few chapters later, they've been married.  at the same time, i do like that eliot's introducing potential foibles in the impending rosemary/lydgate nuptials, though i suspect we'll be diving right into that marriage soon as well.  i'm finding the lack of romanticizing and sentimentalizing so refreshing, that eliot has set up these marriages for exploration through different premises, and i wonder where they'll go.  i see conflict, yes, lots of conflict, but nothing yet that can be unresolved.  in dorothea and causabon's case, a lot can be helped by them simply communicating instead of assuming things and letting things go unsaid while they fester inside, so i don't think eliot has doomed any of these marriages from the start.  i don't get that kind of feeling from middlemarch -- it's a book that takes on serious questions but does so with levity and ease, refraining from getting lost in moralizing or instructing, content to sit back and observe these characters and watch their lives unravel and allow us, the readers, to draw our own thoughts.  and i love that, too, in the ways that i love and appreciate a book that does not assume its readers to be dim-witted but capable of independent, individual thought.

(i did not finish book four of middlemarch, thus the lack of reference to my life in middlemarch today.)