Tuesday, 14 March 2017

Books 33 & 34 of 2016: Traffic by John Ruskin & Memories and Portraits by Robert Louis Stevenson

Tuesday means it's time to revisit some of the books I read last year and sadly at the beginning of August 2016, my reading material was slightly disappointing.

First up is Traffic by John Ruskin. This is a book from the Penguin Little Black Classics collection and features two essays; the first, the titular 'Traffic', the second 'The Roots of Honour'.

I struggled to follow both of these essays at times. The first essay begins with Ruskin being invited to speak about the new Exchange being built in Yorkshire, and he opens his speech by telling the people assembled that he doesn't actually care about their Exchange and launches off into his own speech about... well, something, it was a little tricky to keep up with the gist of it.

'The Roots of Honour' felt like it had more that I could relate to. There was stuff in there about paying people a fair wage which was interesting given all the talk about the Living Wage at the time.

On the whole, this was a fairly short read (only 58 pages) but it took me two days to get through because it was a tough read. I didn't really enjoy it but it was an interesting read nonetheless. And I would've liked to have seen the audience's reaction to Ruskin when he announced that he wasn't in fact there to talk about the Exchange.

I followed Traffic with a Robert Louis Stevenson ebook, Memories and Portraits as I discovered I enjoyed Stevenson's writing style some time ago and felt this would be a good follow up.

This is another collection of essays, this time on a whole host of topics from everything from books, to dogs and his own contributions to College Magazine.

Despite being a far longer book than Traffic, I got through it very quickly. The topics in the book don't really follow on from one another so it feels a bit higgledy piggledy. You don't know what to expect between one ending and the next one beginning.

My favourite essays were the ones about reading and books. I felt like he said things that I could relate to. The essay about dogs was pretty good too. He also mentioned places in Edinburgh which I'm familiar with so that was interesting too.

Of the two, Memories and Portraits is probably the book I'm most likely to reread again in the future.

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