2010: A Year of Reading Deliberately

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.

Readalongs

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.

Challenges

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
  • Beowulf
  • 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.
Nonfiction:

  • 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.

Fiction:

  • 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:

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.

Nonfiction:

  • 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!

Personal Projects

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?

About the author 

Rebecca Reid

Rebecca Reid is a homeschooling, stay-at-home mother seeking to make the journey of life-long learning fun by reading lots of good books. Rebecca Reads provides reviews of children's literature she has enjoyed with her children; nonfiction that enhances understanding of educational philosophies, history and more; and classical literature that Rebecca enjoys reading.

  1. I’ve really been enjoying reading everyone’s reflections on their past year of reading as well as how they’d like to shape their reading this upcoming year – it’s been really edifying and in a cheesy way, it’s felt like a bonding experience as so many fellow bloggers reflect sentiments similar to my own in these posts. I really like your idea of having a “project book”, something that you can work your way through slowly throughout the month; I feel like I kind of did that with Jane Eyre last year and it was really rewarding. And of course, like you, I’m hoping to ramp up my Classic reading this year, though you already put me to shame in that category! 😉

  2. These are GREAT goals. I like the idea of a monthly “project” book. I might that that idea on myself! I am also trying to read more classics. I’m so excited about participating in the Classics circuit!

  3. One of my favorite things this year was making personal challenges for myself to really increase the reading I really want to do. 2009 was very haphazard for me. I decided 2010 would be deliberate reading before the term came up. 😀 Others must have had the same idea.

  4. Thank you for inspiring me to read more of the classics, both through the reading group and now through the Classics Circuit. I honestly don’t know how you have the time to do all of this given that you are a full-time mom!

  5. These are great goals, Rebecca. I also plan on doing more of my personal projects this year. Because of the challenges that I joined in 2009, I fell away from the reading projects I have set up for myself pre-blogging, which were to read the Nobel authors, Pulitzer winners, and Booker winners. Would like to get back on track this year. Happy new year! I can definitely relate about minimizing blogging time and spending more time with the children. My baby is also getting older!

  6. I really admire your plans, and wish you much success, but I’ll just be taking it as it comes. I’m not too good at planning ahead like that – I get distracted too easily.

  7. Rebecca, your goals sound perfectly suited for you. As I said before, I love the idea of having a “project book”. What a great way to tackle those books that intimidate you.

    I’m with you on both reading more classics and finding balance. I’m trying to remind myself in the new year that I don’t need to blog everyday in order to be a “good” blogger.

    I’m hoping to join The Classics Circuit soon, but it’ll have to wait until there’s an author selected whose book I have on my shelves or on my TBR list.

  8. Sounds like a great plan to me! I wonder if Governess by Ruth Brandon would fit in you non-fiction category for Our Mutual Read? I have that one to read for Women Unbound Challenge.

    I love how everyone is into Reading Deliberately!

    I’m loving my Wharton pick for Classics Circuit.

  9. Its good that you’ve been thinking about your reading and blogging plans for 2010. I’m not sure that much will change for me (but I haven’t had much time to think about it); but it probably won’t surprise you that I want to read more poetry this year!

  10. Looks like you’re going all out on challenges this year. Good luck! I’m not much of a planner unfortunately. The best plan I have is to make sure to read at least 50 unread books that I own.

  11. I’m not sure how helpful my suggestions might be, but since you asked for a few in here…

    In terms of books about the Victorian period, I really enjoyed ‘Building Jerusalem’ last year, but I think I might have mentioned it already to you. Otherwise, if you like period nonfic, Gaskell’s Life of Charlotte Bronte is good, if you like the Brontes, and I’m really looking forward to read ‘Cassandra’ by Florence Nightingale, which touches on her feminist beliefs, but also on her religious views, apparently. And, while it’s not very well remembered now, Ruskins Seven Lamps of Architecture was a huge part of the thinking of the time, and sounds really interesting (whether or not I’d agree with it all). And of course, there’s the giants of the time: John Stuart Mill, Karl Marx, Friedrich Engels, Jeremy Bentham…

    Otherwise, for Scottish Literature, another voice that is huge for understanding the Victorian period is Sir Walter Scott. I read the first of the Waverley novels a few years ago, and it was a much more ‘contemporary’ feeling novel than I expected. And, in the Victorian period, EVERYBODY read it, apparently. Also, Robert Louis Stevenson, which is one of Amanda’s faves. Finally, again while now he’s only associated with bad opening lines, Edward Bulwer-Lytton was popular during the Victorian period. Oh, or there’s always JM Barrie!

  12. Steph, no shame necessary for classics. The fact that I was an English major and never read __[fill in the blank with any of 100s of titles]___ is a cause of embarassement to me. I’m trying to remedy that!

    Aarti, I’m glad for all the classics circuit excitement. And yes, I’m hoping a low key “responsibility” every month will be satisfying — I don’t have to choose ahead of time either, which I love best 🙂

    Amanda, I made tons of personal challenges for 2009 but I was horrible at doing them! I joined to many public challenges! I’m hoping 2010 will be less haphazard too.

    Suzanne, I think it’s easier to read and blog as a full-time mom than as a full-time employee! But it will get harder as my son is not napping right now (and phasing naps out all-together many days….grrrr….)

    claire, I was sad to hear that you were stepping back, but I’m always glad to see you posting. Glad you haven’t disappeared completely!

    Kathy, I get distracted too, but I like being organized to begin with!!

    Christina, yes, I think that’s a good part of stepping back, realizing that no one is waiting around for me to post more often! We’re all overwhelmed with good posts. Hopefully our upcoming Circuit authors will be on your TBR so you can join in!

    Chris, ooo Governess sounds good. Maybe I’ll read it along with some Bronte novels! Thanks for the rec.

    Valerie, you’re recent posts on poetry have been a good inspiration to get my act back together!

    Ladytink, at least most of my challenges are personal this year! Good luck with your 2010 reading!

    Jason, oh yes, thanks for mentioning Building Jerusalem. I do remember it and have it on my TBR, so that would work for this too! And thanks for all the other ideas. Oh where to begin for Scottish lit?! There is lots I’d like to read, which is why I didn’t make the list yet. I did just read RLS, though, and enjoyed it very much!

  13. I love the idea of a monthly project book, something to read slowly and really get into because it’s taking a long time to read. Once I get done with school, I might start doing something like that.

    Good luck with the rest of your goals and plans, they sound good 🙂

  14. These are wonderful goals you have set for yourself, Rebecca. I have been wanting to do a Year of Reading Deliberately post, too, but have not figured out all my, uh, deliberateness, yet, haha. My bloggiversary is coming up this weekend and I think I will post about it then. Seems appropriate.

  15. Kim, that’s the idea about the project book! I found myself this morning just wanting to read faster to get it over with, but I want to remember what I’m reading so trying to slow down!

    Vasilly, Thanks!

    Rebecca, I think it’s a fun way to put a year of reading in perspective, I think. I hope you have figuring out your deliberateness…

    Stefanie, yes, but surprisingly fewer than last January 🙂 I’m getting more realistic, I hope.

  16. I really love the idea of reading deliberately, too, and enjoyed your post! I’ve already found myself declining review books for the coming months because I’d really like to focus on what I want to read in 2010 — and keep it that way. Definitely want to throw some more classics in there, too!

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