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This week, as the weather started to actually reflect the season we are in, I found myself cycling to work to the wonderfully fun sounds of The Go! Team.
The seasons always have an impact on what I listen to. As soon as the sun comes out, I trade Cat Power, Modest Mouse and Bright Eyes for American Football and The Wooden Birds. I never make these shifts consciously, they just happen. It seems natural that I should want to consume all things light, frivolous and exciting that fit in with the raised spirits that summer brings.
In the last few weeks, I have also noticed a battle between my wintry and springtime self, while reading. I started reading The Joke by Milan Kundera, a novelist I very much admire. I’m currently about halfway through the book, and have been stuck at the same page for a number of days (I usually read a 250-page book in a week or two). While I really like the story so far, the composition and, well, everything about the book, I can’t bring myself to read any more. I can’t focus. It’s irritating.
The other day I was chatting to my friend, a bookseller, about the big Russian books we both still had to get around to reading and I told him about my struggle. He mentioned that, although there are a few books he really wants to get on with, he can’t read Russian literature at any time other than in winter. The tone, style and subject matter of many Russian books feel incongruous to the hot, happy summertime. Perhaps this is the root of my struggle with The Joke.
When I started the novel we were still wallowing in what felt like a prolonged winter, or at least an underwhelming spring, but for the past week the sun has felt like it’s gearing up to explode. The warm air, the smell of BBQs and sounds of children playing all around me couldn’t prepare my brain for a world of corruption and prisoner camps in communist Czech Republic. I needed something more uplifting.
So I went to a bookshop and bought Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, a tale so curious and whimsical that, sure enough, my desire to read returned.