November in Review + Reading Journal (2 Dec)

I feel I’m finally getting a balance back between reading and blogging. It felt very good to be unplugged for nearly five days, and I think I may have to do that more often. I’m also trying to shy away from challenges in the coming year. There are so many that have tempted me, but I think I’d rather have freedom to read whatever I want to once I close a book and want to pick up the next. I have enough structure as it is, with the Classics Circuit and book groups and so forth.

Fiction and Nonfiction Reviews

In November, I reviewed a few things I finished previously.

I also read or reviewed the following:

  • Cry, The Beloved Country by Alan Paton (285 pages; fiction).
  • Jane Austen’s Little Advice Book by Jane Austen, edited by Cathryn Michon and Pamela Norris (125 pages; quotes from Austen’s fiction).
  • My Life in France by Julia Child (300 pages; nonfiction/memoir).
  • The Secret Life of Wilkie Collins by William Clarke (205 pages; nonfiction/biography).
  • Two Histories of England by Jane Austen and Charles Dickens (160 pages; fictionalized nonfiction).
  • Too Late the Phalarope by Alan Paton (285 pages; fiction).
  • Musicophilia by Oliver Sacks (abridged audiobook, on 5 of 5 CDS; nonfiction).
  • The King of Inventors by Catherine Peters (425 pages; nonfiction/biography).
  • Aucassin et Nicolete by an anonymous author, translated by Andrew Lang (about 35 pages; fiction/really old classic).
  • Medea by Euripides, translated by Rex Warner (about 50 pages).
  • Harlem STOMP! A Cultural History of the Harlem Renaissance by Laban Carrick Hill (135 pages; nonfiction/coffee table book).
  • Carmen by Georges Bizet (opera on CD, plus commentary).
  • Don Giovanni by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (opera on CD, plus commentary).  I’m tired of opera this week!
  • Carmen by Prosper Merimee (about 60 pages, from Project Gutenberg; fiction).
  • Children’s Literature: A Reader’s History from Aesop to Harry Potter by Seth Lerer (330 pages; nonfiction).
  • Mary Barton by Elizabeth Gaskell (484 pages; fiction).
  • The Harlem Renaissance: An Explosion of African-American culture by Richard Worth (115 pages; children’s nonfiction).
  • My Antonia by Willa Cather (265 pages; fiction).

Other Posts

Not all my posts were reviews this month.

Challenges Update

As I mentioned in my I Am a Quitter reading journal, I decided to quit a few challenges early. I will be incorporating some of those books in to my monthly plans, but I think I need to step away from challenges. I’m hoping I can revisit my monthly goals at the beginning of each month and play it by ear a bit more.

Past and Ended Challenges

Challenge Progress

Some projects appear on more than one list because part of the challenge is timed, but the overall project is not. I’ve made a note if I’m currently reading a book that applies to a particular challenge.

See the list of books I’ve read and what I’m planning on reading for each challenge on my Current Challenges page.

Timed Challenges

Everything Austen Challenge [ends 31/12/09] 5/6 (Coming up: a Jane Austen-ish moive)
The Japanese Literature Challenge
[ends 30/01/10]. 0/1 (Currently in progress: The Pillow Book. I will read this over the next few months.)
Really Old Classics Challenge
[ends 28/02/10]. 2/4 + 0/1 retelling
Women Unbound
[ends 30/11/10]. 2/8

Personal Projects

HTR&W project: poetry. 0/21 poems I’ll begin this project in earnest come the new year.
Nobel Challenge
. 15/101 authors
Pulitzer Challenge
. 12/82
Newbery Medal
. 29/88
Caldecott Medal
.  44/72
My History of Children’s Literature Project
. 6/15 chapters (I’ve finished the book, but I am reading novels from chapter 6 still. In progress: Treasure Island)
U.S. Presidential Reading
. 2/44 presidents
Presidents of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
. 1/15 presidents.
My Short Story Author Project
My Poets Project
Favorite Authors to Read

Classics/Must Read Lists

Beowulf on the Beach Challenge . 16/50
101 Great Books Recommended for College-Bound Readers
. 45/101
Martel-Harper Challenge20/59

Reading Journal (2 Dec)

This weekend I unplugged from blogging. I also indirectly unplugged from reading too as I watched more TV, played with my family, and otherwise enjoyed the holiday. I did finish one book, and I made good progress on some others. This week I hope to get the two children’s books finished, as well as the Harlem Renaissance criticism finished. I also hope to continue to make progress on Jesus the Christ and begin The Pillow Book.

I didn’t go to the library all week (amazing!) and I will hold off on posting “finds” until next week, since this post is already quite long.

Finished Books

This week, I finished one book.

  • My Antonia by Willa Cather (265 pages; fiction).

Currently Reading

Each week, I list my progress so I can see how my reading compares week to week.

My Books

I’m going to add some other books of mine in the coming week.

  • Our Latter-day Hymns: The Stories and Their Messages by Karen Lynn Davidson (85 read of 455 pages; nonfiction).
  • Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson (60 read of 196 pages; children’s fiction). For My History of Children’s Literature Project.
  • Kidnapped by Robert Louis Stevenson (about 150 pages, from Project Gutenberg; children’s fiction). For My History of Children’s Literature Project.
  • Jesus the Christ by James E. Talmage (130 read of 735 pages; nonfiction). My December priority. I’m making steady progress and I was right: it’s perfect for immersion during the month of December!
  • The Pillow Book by Sei Shonagon (about 350 pages; fiction/really old classic).  I haven’t begun yet! I hope to make some progress this week.

Old Library Loot

Library Loot is a weekly event co-hosted by Eva and Marg that encourages bloggers to share the books they’ve checked out from the library.

  • The Harlem Renaissance edited by Harold Bloom (160 read of 300 pages; nonfiction/essays). Background info for the upcoming (February) Classics Circuit. I’m hoping to finish this in the coming week.
  • Death Comes for the Archbishop by Willa Cather.
  • One of Ours by Willa Cather.
  • O Pioneers by Willa Cather.
  • Surely You’re Joking, Mr. Fenyman by Robert Fenyman (on disc 6 of 10, about 11 ½ hours total; nonfiction/science). I’m enjoying this very much!
  • A Son at the Front by Edith Wharton. For the Wharton Classics Circuit. I’m first in January, so I’d better get reading!

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’m being very, very selective about the challenges I join next year. Last year, I picked whatever challenges looked fun and exciting, and that I could make a fun list for. That got old really fast. This year, I’m picking challenges that I feel will help make me a more responsible reader (things like the Unbound Challenge and the GLBT Challenge), as well as push me to become a better reader (all my personal challenges for next year). I think it’s a bit ironic that the majority of my 2010 challenges are personal ones.

    This year, I’ve spent most of my time just reading whatever came to mind and fitting those books into the challenges I had going. I’ve been a very irresponsible reader, grabbing what looks pretty and happy and shiny. While I’ve had a lot of fun, I am starting to crave more structure (and less reading – the amount of reading I did this year was horribly large).

  2. I’m skipping all challenges in 2010, but I agree that it’s tough to do! There are some really clever new ones making appearances and some old favorites that I’ll be keeping in the back of my mind as I choose my reading next year. They’re so good for helping me move out of comfort zones!


  3. I’m really looking forward to your review of My Antonia by Willa Cather (provided you have the time to write one)! This is an author I’ve been reading more and more about lately, and I’m swiftly becoming quite intrigued… love to know what you thought of her!

    And here’s to happy, unfettered, whimsical reading. I admire those who can stick steadfast to reading challenges, but I so need spontaneity when it comes to my own reading!

  4. I’m so glad that you feel more balanced now Rebecca! 🙂 Apropos of nothing, I just reread Sir Gawain and the Green Knight for the Really Old Classics Challenge, and the translation I read was so awesome. And I finished Arabian Nights! So I’ll be doing a post about that challenge soon. 😉

    I tend to think of my own reading as structured whimsy. I use challenges to give me broad outlines of what type of books I want to be reading, as well as to give me a much smaller TBR list (I find my ‘master’ TBR list incredibly overwhelming). But I pick out challenge books based totally on my mood, and if one isn’t working for me I have no problem subbing in another. So for me, challenges are resources that improve my reading, which is why I’m an addict. I totally understand why others don’t like them as much though.

  5. Amanda, when I started blogging, I only had a number of personal challenges. This year, I focused on outside challenges and I haven’t made any progress on my personal challenges! So yes, I’m with you on that. I do want less structure, though, and I think fewer outside challenges will help me do that!

    Lezlie, I’m impressed with your ability to avoid ALL challenges!

    Sarah, thank you so much!

    Steph, I’m all for spontaneity right now too! I’m writing up some My Antonia thoughts, so I’ll make sure to post them sometime!

    Eva, yeay! I’m looking forward to your thoughts on Sir Gawain as that is on my short list for this month.

    My problem is I love challenges: I like making lists, I like having mini-goals through the year. But I cannot keep reading at this level in the new year so I’m trying to make it easier on my daily life! P.S. I also love reading your challenge posts, especially all your TBR lists to go with the challenges! So much fun to get more ideas!

  6. Wow! That’s a whole lot of books. I took November off from reading. Good news is that I may actually get caught up with reviewing all of these books, bad news I don’t think I’m going to reach my at least 100 books reading goal 🙁

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