Jacob's Reviews > Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell

Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell by Susanna Clarke
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Jul 12, 2008

bookshelves: i-own, sci-fi-fantasy-etc, read-before-goodreads
Read 2 times. Last read July 15, 2006.

Ok, fine, you caught me. I confess. I didn't actually finish this book in time to list it on my 2011 challenge, and I didn't finish it in January either. Sorry. Sorry, everyone.

I first read JS&MN in 2006, while recovering from an appendectomy...although when I say "recovering," I really mean "being lazy." I'd been horribly sick one day and had sharp pains in my right side the next, so I diagnosed myself with appendicitis and went straightaway to the hospital (where the doctor seemed annoyed that I had consulted WebMD and insisted on calling it a "tummy-ache" [honestly, a tummy-ache! I was 19!] until he saw my white cell count), and had the appendix out long before it burst--if that had even been a possibility. Would a gangrenous appendix have burst? The surgeon didn't say. But I digress. My appendix was gone, and although I felt fine I decided to milk that baby for all it was worth, so I took two weeks off from work (doctor's orders) and decided to read a long book while I "recovered" (not doctor's orders, although that would've been cool).

So, I think I'll forever associate Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell as The Top Book To Read While Convalescing From Some Kind Of Surgery. If I had had any sense, I would've reread it in December 2010 after my cornea transplant: I certainly had enough free time after that, and I still had one good eye (while the other slowly healed), so it would have been easy to recreate the experience. Didn't happen. Doyle's Exploits and Adventures of Brigadier Gerard made for good readin' instead.

Which brings us to now, or last November. I didn't have any minor (or major) surgery this winter, so when I picked up JS&MN with the intention of rereading it, the atmosphere wasn't there. My appendix hadn't regenerated and burst again, my other cornea hadn't deteriorated enough to require a transplant yet, and my health was fairly good overall, so I didn't have the leisure to curl up with Ms. Clarke's wonderful novel and read it without a care.

And that's why I didn't finish this book.

Maybe I should give up a kidney next. Or my tonsils. Honestly, why haven't my wisdom teeth grown in yet?
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Reading Progress

Started Reading
July 15, 2006 – Finished Reading
July 12, 2008 – Shelved
July 26, 2008 – Shelved as: i-own
August 9, 2008 – Shelved as: sci-fi-fantasy-etc
November 14, 2011 –
page 1
0.13% "Read this in 2006, after an appendectomy. I've been looking for an excuse to reread it, but my appendicitis seems to be the non-recurring type. So what the hell, it's been five years, I've waited long enough. I'll just give up a kidney instead."
November 14, 2011 –
page 38
4.86% "Yeah, this was worth an appendix."
November 17, 2011 –
page 118
November 22, 2011 –
page 161
20.59% "Note to self: it is unwise to attempt to read Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell and a Teddy Roosevelt biography simultaneously; both are lengthy and interesting, and as a result both are neglected. Also, one tends to have day-dreams about the life and career of Theodore Roosevelt, magician."
November 25, 2011 –
page 209
December 4, 2011 –
page 272
34.78% "Slow going. Should not have picked this up while reading the Teddy Roosevelt biography. Think I'll take a break for a while and focus on that one instead."
December 4, 2016 – Started Reading (Paperback Edition)
December 5, 2016 – Shelved (Paperback Edition)
December 5, 2016 – Shelved as: 2016 (Paperback Edition)
December 5, 2016 – Shelved as: i-own (Paperback Edition)
December 5, 2016 – Shelved as: sci-fi-fantasy-etc (Paperback Edition)
December 5, 2016 –
page 225
26.5% "It snowed yesterday and my internet was down, so this was the perfect book to start rereading." (Paperback Edition)
December 8, 2016 –
page 506
59.6% "Stephen had never seen a landscape so calculated to reduce the onlooker to utter despair in an instant.\n"This is one of your kingdoms, I suppose, sir?" he said.\n"My kingdoms?" exclaimed the gentleman in surprise. "Oh, no! This is Scotland!"" (Paperback Edition)
December 11, 2016 – Shelved as: read-before-goodreads
December 11, 2016 – Finished Reading (Paperback Edition)

Comments (showing 1-10 of 10) (10 new)

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message 1: by Richard (last edited Nov 23, 2011 09:17AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Richard Well, maybe the "big stick" everyone talks about was a wizard's staff! How else do you explain the completion of the Panama Canal?

message 2: by [deleted user] (new)

fuck yeah.

Jacob I'm, er, not actually finished with this. Still got about 200 pages to go, but I wanted to count this as a 2011 book so I can start 2012 fresh and squeaky clean.

message 4: by [deleted user] (new)


Jacob Ok, little white lie. It was more like 400 pages. Or maybe 500...

message 6: by [deleted user] (new)

Yeah, this definitely has a beachy summer vacation quality about it, just because it's so slow paced, something to wander through.

message 7: by JK (last edited Feb 13, 2012 05:31PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

JK I still need to read this. Maybe it'll be my next book. Which is up now!

Post-op-reads is a great shelf BTW.

Jacob JK wrote: "I still need to read this. Maybe it'll be my next book. Which is up now!

Post-op-reads is a great shelf BTW."

It's a short list, but it's not one I'm eager to add to.

And just make sure you have plenty of time to read it. It's a lovely book, but also slow, so it loses its appeal if you only read a little bit at a time.

Megan What about the pain killers they give you after surgery? I would think that waould make this book more magical. I read the Valley of the Dolls after I got my wisdom teeth out and vaguely remember sitting in the backyard in the sun smiling while reading that. :)

Andrew I'm up to p 80. Very witty and well written. The footnotes are really something.

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