When the weather is nice, there’s no better way to start a Sunday than on my porch with a good book and a fresh cup of coffee.
I’ve taken a break from my current reading list to return to an old love of mine. In my mind, Les Misérables is one of the best books ever written, worth all 1200-some pages, and is tied with The Count of Monte Cristo as my favorite of all time.
Ann Curry tweeted this quote the other day and I was really taken by it. It’s wisdom imparted from Merlin to a young Arthur in T.H. White’s The Once and Future King. My undergrad advisor recommended the book to me awhile back and I think this just bumped it to the top of my summer reading list.
“The best thing for being sad,” replied Merlin, beginning to puff and blow, “is to learn something. That is the only thing that never fails. You may grow old and trembling in your anatomies, you may lie awake in the middle of the night listening to the disorder of your veins, you may miss your only love, you may see the world around you devastated by evil lunatics, or know your honor trampled in the sewers of baser minds. There is only one thing for it then — to learn. Learn why the world wags and what wags it. That is the only thing the mind can never exhaust, never alienate, never be tortured by, never fear or distrust, and never dream of regretting.”
I have spent this weekend pretending it’s the 30’s-40’s… and by that I mean watching Public Enemies, shopping for hats à la Lilly Dache, and devouring this biography of Édith Piaf:
I don’t read nonfiction for leisure very often but I saw this while searching for livres en français and picked it up on a lark. I had heard Piaf’s name in French classes, collected a compilation of her songs for my iPod over the years, and watched La Vie en Rose, but that was as much as I knew. In No Regrets, Burke paints a stimulating, insightful portrait of the French chanteuse. I haven’t been able to put it down.
Maybe it’s how Burke opens by comparing Piaf’s early life to Les Misérables (arguably my favorite novel of all time). Or maybe it’s the vivid descriptions and the way she infuses quotes from various sources with her eloquent storytelling. Either way, I’m turning pages as if I were re-reading The Three Musketeers yet learning a lot about the musical genius that was France’s “little sparrow.”
Read the New York Times review here. Buy it on Amazon here.