Boz and The Bard: January in Review

I decided to join in both Allie’s Shakespeare Month and Amanda at Fig and Thistle’s Charles Dickens month, since I knew I would be reading Bleak House for my book club. It was a great month, and I must admit I’m not quite finished yet with the Bard at least (I’m taking a break from Dickens for a month or so).

At the very beginning of the month, I picked up Jane Smiley’s biography of Charles Dickens and read this gem of a quote in her preface:

Among English writers, Dickens’s only peer, in terms of general fame, worldwide literary stature, and essential Englishness, is William Shakespeare, and the two authors are alike in several ways.”

I loved that my month just happened to be focused around the two most famous, literary, and “English” of writers. More than two centuries separate them. Yet they each wrote for their time in a way that is lasting. The themes speak to us today, the writing is superior, and they seriously impacted their contemporaries.

For my Dickens month, I wrote three posts on Bleak House as I read it and review of a brief biography of Dickens. I wanted to read something else by Dickens as well, but let’s face it, Bleak House was about 1000 pages long and I’m more than 8 months pregnant and trying to get a nursery painted and ready. It was enough.

For the Bard, here’s what I read/posted this month:

I mentioned I’m not done yet: Allie graciously extended her month of fun until the end of next week so I thought I’d throw in some more Shakespeare. I’ve finished reading Bill Bryson’s biography (of which I have mixed thoughts) and hope to get a post up later this week. I also want to shift to comedies since I haven’t read any Shakespeare comedies since I began this blog. My collection of Shakespeare comes with two volumes of comedies, and the first in volume one is Love’s Labour’s Lost. I know nothing about it but I’m excited to give it a try! It’s also quite short, so I think I’ll be successful at fitting it in.

Other books read in January:

Reviewed in January/Read in December

Did you join either of these reading month projects?

Harlem Renaissance: Fiction for February and Other Yearly Reading Ideas

I am trying very hard to not be too ambitious in my reading plans for the year. That said, I really enjoyed how my January has been focused on Shakespeare and Charles Dickens this month, reading both biographies of the men and some of their works.

I decided to revisit the Harlem Renaissance during the month of February. I am not currently running the Classics Circuit, but one of my favorite Classics Circuits of the past was February 2010 when I learned all about the great literature of the Harlem Renaissance. I have not been very diligent at revisiting those works I really want to read, so this year, I’m going to try to read a few novels. I have a volume of five Harlem Renaissance novels out from the library. Continue Reading

1000 Books: Project Completion

About two years ago (December 2009), I started a project I titled “1000 Books” in which I hoped to read 1000 different books with my son before his sixth birthday (fall 2013): picture books, chapter books, or essentially any books that we read in full. Originally, I said I wanted to read the books by his fifth birthday, but then I panicked because that was too soon and changed it to his sixth birthday. The purpose of this goal was to nurture his natural interest in reading, to expose him to a variety of good books, and to help him gain the literary exposure necessary to learn to read at age 5 or 6.

It’s been quite the wonderful experience for us.Continue Reading

Show and Tell by Dilys Evans (Brief Thoughts)

Show and Tell by Dilys Evans (Chronicle Books, 2008) carries the subtitle “Exploring the fine art of children’s book illustration,” and that is what it is: a full-color coffee table style book that highlights a few of the best children’s book illustrators by examining what makes their art “fine art.” Because I love reading picture books, I really appreciated the analysis of great children’s book illustration, as well as the discussion of the illustrators’ lives, from the beginning of their interest in art to where they found their inspiration for their illustration.

Continue Reading