I really love the concept of reading deliberately. Although I feel I have been doing this to some extent since I began blogging, when I saw the series of posts about this concept (who started it?!), I decided that “reading deliberately” is what I need to do with my 2010.
There are so many books tempting me, and I’ve decided to say “NO” to most of them. My reading is for me, and these are some things to make 2010 a rewarding reading experience. That said, there are a number of things I’m saying “Yes” to in 2010.
Monthly Project Books. Each month, I will have a “project” book to focus on. This will probably be a longer non-fiction book that I have been wanting to read for a long time and yet have always been intimidated by. It will probably be something I own, but it can be a library book. The subject and/or title of the project book will be decided the month before. There are to be no lists to choose from, because this is a project of “whatever I feel like reading this month.” I have plenty of such intimidating books taunting me from my stacks!
A Year of Classics. I want to focus on reading the classics. While there is of course a place for modern fiction and modern classics in my reading, I want to gain a better grounding in the Western classics in the coming twelve months. English and American literature is a key interest for me (and may form the basis of my “classics” reading), but European classics also tempt me and I’m completely unfamiliar with them. This year, I also want to have some experiences with a few non-Western classics. I’ll focus on classics both through my work with The Classics Circuit and with my monthly classics book group at the local library.
Forget-Me-Not (Forgotten-No-More) Genres. I want to remember the “forgotten genres”: short stories, poetry, and drama. My focus in the coming months will be poetry, as I reinstate my enthusiasm for reading through the HTR&W poetry list. However, I also want to try to reintroduce short stories into my regular reading, and get some drama read each quarter (especially at least one Shakespeare play each quarter).
No More Guilt. I will not feel guilty for not reading a modern novels, YA, or other “must read” books. I will not feel guilty for not commenting on blogs and/or reviewing my books in a timely manner. That said, I do hope to read an out-of-my comfort zone book each month, with at least one graphic novel a quarter. And I do hope to continue to find a balance between blogging and my daily life as a stay-at-home mom. Although I have been saying I’ve found “balance” for the last few months, it was only in the last few weeks, when I have blogging the bare minimum, that I realized how much I would like to continue to remain backed away from the web. I love blogging, I love the community, and I love writing about my reading. However, as a full-time mom, I have to make sure my little son is my priority. He’s getting so old so fast!
The Classics Circuit
I am completely delighted with the enthusiasm for The Classics Circuit. In 2010, it will continue to be a priority to me: before writing on my blog, before finishing challenges and/or read-a-longs, and before reading other blogs, I will be helping to coordinate the Classics Circuit. The idea is to get people reading and promoting classic authors. I love the “research” I find myself doing for this project, and I look forward to seeing where we go next. I hope to be a participant in the Circuit each month that we do it.
Woolf in Winter (January and/or February). Although the group is reading four Woolf novels, one every two weeks, I’m only committing to the first two right now. I’ve started Mrs. Dalloway (hosted by Sarah) and I’m not sure what I think yet. Next up: To the Lighthouse at the end of the month (hosted by Emily).
The Japanese Literature Book Group. While I am probably not going to be a full participant in this book group, the first read is The Housekeeper and the Professor on January 25. Since I want to read that book, I think I may try to slip it in this month!
Classic Reads: East of Eden (January and February). Two years ago, in January and February, I read East of Eden. I loved it and wanted to discuss it with other readers. Alas, no one I knew wanted to discuss it! By May, I’d decided to start a book blog so I could discuss any future reads. It seems appropriate that I revisit East of Eden now that I can discuss it with a group of fellow readers!
Lord of the Rings (February, March, April). I read the first volume of The Lord of the Rings while in college and I hated it with a passion. I’ll try it again in February and if I can stand it, I’ll continue for March and April. I did enjoy The Silmarillion in 2008, so maybe I just wasn’t ready for LotR at age 18. I didn’t like The Hobbit when I read it the first time in 2009, so I won’t be joining in for that in January (hosted at A Striped Armchair). February is The Fellowship of the Ring at The Literary Omnivore; March is The Two Towers at Shelf Love; and April is The Return of the King at Just Add Books.
The Japanese Literature Challenge [ends 30/01/10]. 0/1. This ends at the end of January. I’ve been reading The Pillow Book and enjoying it, but it is a slow read. I also intend to read The Housekeeper and the Professor for the read-a-long mentioned above.
Really Old Classics Challenge [ends 28/02/10]. 2/4 + 0/1 retelling (In progress: The Pillow Book). This is my own challenge. Upcoming possibilities for the next two months:
- Sir Gawain and the Green Knight
- The Aeneid
- War Songs by Christopher Logue (a retelling of The Iliad)
Women Unbound [ends 30/11/10]. 2/8. I’ve read two books for this already, and I’m kind of intending to just play it by ear and see which books I read fit it. That said, here are some books that have caught my eye.
- I Feel Bad About My Neck by Nora Ephron.
- Monique and the Mango Rains by Kris Hollaway.
- Wild Swans by Jing Chang. I’ve read this before, but I can’t recall the details. I remember really enjoying it!
- Baby Catcher by Peggy Vincent.
- Woman: an Intimate Geography by Natalie Angier.
- Birth by Tina Cassidy.
- A Room of One’s Own by Virginia Woolf.
- Agnes Grey by Anne Bronte.
- Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston. I listened to the audio years ago but would love to revisit it.
- Purple Hibiscus by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.
- The Color Purple by Alice Walker.
- Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden.
Black Classics Challenge [ends 31/12/10]. 0/3 Although in my December in Review post the other day I’d indicated I would be reading seven books for this challenge, I’ve decided to back down and commit to 3. I don’t want to be over-committed with challenges this year. There are lots of works I’d love to read, though, so I’m looking forward to this project. Some options:
- Complete Writings by Phyllis Wheatley
- Collected Poetry by Paul Laurence Dunbar
- Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man by James Weldon Johnson
- My Bondage and My Freedom by Frederick Douglas
- The Souls of Black Folk by W. E. B. DuBois
- The Conjure Woman by Charles W. Chesnutt
- The Marrow of Tradition by Charles W. Chesnutt
Graphic Novels Challenge [ends 31/12/10]. 0/4. This is another challenge that I just want to play by ear. Although the Intermediate level is 3-10 books, I’m aiming for one a quarter. Chances are great that I’ll stick to nonfiction. There are tons that stick out to me, such as the following two:
- Charles Darwin’s On the Origin of Species – a Graphic Adaptation by Michael Keller and Nicolle Rager Fuller (link goes to Nymeth’s review).
- The Photographer: Into War-Torn Afghanistan with Doctors Without Borders by Didier Lefevre & Emmanuel Guilbert
Our Mutual Read [ends 31/12/10]. 0/8. I have loved the Victorian novels I’ve read recently, for the most part. So I’m eager to get more of them read in the coming year. Here are some books I’d enjoy reading in the coming months, although I’ll may read different books besides these ones. Note that while the challenge is for an author of any nationality writing between 1837-1901, I want to stay with English literature for this challenge. (I’ll certainly have more to add to this list!)
- The Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens.
- The Pickwick Papers by Charles Dickens.
- The Way Things Were by Anthony Trollope.
- The Tenant of Wildfell Hall by Bronte.
- Silas Marner by George Eliot.
- The Mill on the Floss by George Eliot.
- Wives and Daughters by Elizabeth Gaskell.
- Armadale by Wilkie Collins.
- Reader, I Married Him by Patricia Beer
- Victorian London by Liza Picard
- any other suggestions for books about the era?
Scottish Literature Challenge. 0/1. I don’t know yet what I’ll read. I’m waiting for Amateur Reader to post his list of ideas!
My personal projects will be more of a priority to me in the coming year, particularly the HTR&W poetry project and novel project. It’s pathetic how I dropped it so easily. While I have been cured of thinking highly of Harold Bloom’s opinions, it still is my personal challenge to read the works on his list. I’m going to keep doing so, and this is my rededication to the project!
Further, I want to read more Nobel authors and a few Pulitzer novels. When I’m ready to read classics, my next read should more often than not come from the 101 Great Books Recommended for College-Bound Readers list, of which I still lack many works!
I’ve not been very dedicated to reading about the U.S. Presidents, so I plan on finished some more Abraham Lincoln books and maybe reading a few things by or about Obama. Also, I want to make some progress on reading about the presidents of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
In terms of children’s literature, I’m making good personal progress at reading the Caldecott Medal winners, but Newbery winners will probably be neglected for another year, as my son isn’t at that reading level yet and I’m just not interested right now. I hope to make actual progress at reading some of the historical literature as part of my My History of Children’s Literature Project. In the mean time, I hope to read my way through some of the active literature suggested in the ABCs of Literacy, which I finished reading recently and loved to pieces.
Is that enough of a deliberate plan for the coming year? I think so.
What are you planning, or are you reading through 2010 as it comes?