The closing months of 2007 saw virtually no reading out of me other than a random magazine or cookbook. I felt busy, tired and uninspired.
One night, though, I somehow fell into reading Madeleine's history textbook which really deserves a post of its own since it's incredible engaging and makes a great review for anyone who can't quite recall all the particulars of Sumerian culture or how many times the Babylonian Empire fell or conquered or the rise, reign and fall of the Roman Empire.
The Roman Empire has always fascinated me but while reading the textbook my interest was renewed. After closing the book I remembered I still had my neighbor's copy of Quo Vadis by Henryk Sienkiewicz (translated by W. S. Kuniczak) collecting dust on my basement bookshelves. I raced down, grabbed the copy and dove in.
Quo Vadis is fiction, of course, but Sienkiewicz is generally regarded to have done a good job of presenting Rome as it was during the emperor Nero's reign. The main plot is a love story, but the subplots are numerous and, in my opinion, what make the book worth reading; I particularly enjoyed Sienkiewicz's imagined exchanges between Nero and Petronius, Nero's real life "arbiter of taste."
In any event, it's nice have time to be reading again, and finishing an enjoyable book is a great way to start out the new year.