Benjamin Eskola

Reading (January 2023)


In the hopes of writing more I thought I’d do a monthly update on what I’ve been reading. Admittedly, I meant to do so a week ago, so by the time I’m writing January’s entry it’s halfway through February.

I didn’t actually finish a single book in January, but I’m in the middle of multiple, so that’s my defence. I started off with War and Peace: I’d decided to make it one of my goals for this year, after seeing the suggestion of reading a chapter a day. It’s about 360 chapters long, and an average chapter is about 4 pages, so it works out as a reasonably manageable amount a day and nicely spreads out across the entire year.

I actually ended up reading more than one chapter some days and skipping others, so I’m more or less on track. It’s far less of a slog than one might expect given its reputation; I think the biggest issue is just keeping track of all the characters.

However, I didn’t want the only book I read for pleasure this year to take me until December, and four pages a day isn’t necessarily enough anyway, so I’ve also started reading Daphne du Maurier’s Rebecca. I didn’t know quite what to expect going in but I’m really enjoying it — quite gothic, sort of romance but not quite, sort of thriller but not quite, and very good on the psychological side of things.

For university I’ve been reading a couple of things. I started with Edmund Blunden’s Undertones of War, a First World War memoir; it’s interesting, rather poetic, and thought-provoking in context, but hasn’t really grabbed me. I’ve left it half-finished so far; I focused on another book for the last essay instead (Ali Smith, Hotel World, which I read late last year), and then had to move onto another for the next essay. For that one I’ve chosen Thomas Hardy’s Wessex Tales, a collection of short stories; I hadn’t read any Hardy until Far from the Madding Crowd last term, and I’m in the mood for Victorian writing for some reason.

Finally(!) I’ve also been slowly working my way through The Rust Programming Language. It’s not a huge priority right now; it’s not particularly relevant to my work or to most of the programming in my free time either, but it’s interesting to learn a different approach to those I’m used to.