I went through a reading crisis which worried me quite a bit. It's like, when you have a cat and one day she suddenly stops eating, you have a reason to worry. Likewise, when you have a Mervi and one day she stops reading, there's something wrong. I got to the root of it fast though - the reason was lying in the list of obligatory school books. As soon as you have mandatory reading list and deadlines for book reflections, even the nicest thing - like reading - can turn into work. And well... work is work. Help.

I had to think about it for a while and it seems like I was able to come up with a solution. I told myself - the school books are your work so you read them during your work time and you do not write those book titles down in your notebook for the annual book count. The book count and evenings are only for fun reading as they always have been. So by making a clear distinction between what I have to read and what I want to read, I was more or less able to overcome my crisis. Although, there is so much stuff I need to read in connection with my studies that my eyes get tired often and I read less in the evenings. But that's not too serious a thing. The main thing is that I have gotten back a healthy appetite for reading.

I got sick last weekend (I suspect it had something to do with the fact that I didn't have any time to catch my breath after returning from Newbold and my body just decided to do a shut down). So as much as my headache and runny nose let me, I could read. And I mean, fun read. I had a stack of books which I had brought from the UK and which patiently waited for their turn. Now it was their turn. And now it was their chance to save me from the insanity of solitary confinement - I don't do well, having to stare at my ceiling and not having anyone to talk to for days on end. So I read. And among other stuff, I read Hemingway's For Whom the Bell Tolls. It turned out to be one of those books that makes a lasting and very emotional impression. I mean, it was so good it hurt! The last hundred pages needed to be read all in one go because it suddenly became a matter of life and death to find out what happened to Robert Jordan. Knowing Hemingway, I knew there was very little chance for the book to have a happy ending but even with that knowledge the ending hit me hard. I literally cried through the last pages (really bad idea when you already have a headache). Some 5 days have passed now and I am still under this book's spell. If there has been one man who knew how to write, it was Hemingway (and that despite all his chauvinism). He was a wonder of a story teller! Read the Bells if you get a chance!

I'm better now and am back to work, although I should have stayed in bed for a couple of days longer. Sometimes the burden of doing nothing is too much to bear. Anyway, I'm reading Vladimir Sharov's The Rehearsals now, a book that came to me from Dr A. N.'s "advanced reading class". It's so strange I am occasionally not sure I can make it to the end but I will. I understood what the book was about by the 100th page or so. Weird late Soviet / early post-Soviet stuff, all very allegorical and deeply-deeply steeped in the Biblical motifs.

Other than the stupid illness, all is well. I'm occasionally watching football in the evenings - sorry to see the Germans leave and hoping for Uruguay to kick some Portuguese butts. Enjoying the summer (or what's left of it) and being exceptionally grateful for all the good things I have in my life. Waiting to see all my Newbold people in the end of August. Waiting for the new concert season to begin in the autumn.

The song of a day - no, of a month - is Tchaikovsky's Hymn of the Cherubim. Heavenly!

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