Reading Journal (18 Nov): Planning for a Quiet December

I’ve returned a number of books and I’ve “quit” a few challenges and so I’m feeling remarkably free to read whatever I want! I’m thinking I may take a page out of the NaNoWriMo’s book and go blog silent (or at least quieter) while I work on other projects this holiday season.

For example, I have a 750-page book that I’ve always been intimidated by. It’s Jesus the Christ by James E. Tallmadge, and it examines the life and mission of the Savior by turning to the scriptures (including LDS scripture). I think I’m going to dedicate December to reading that; it seems the appropriate month for it. I’ll also read a little bit of other things (such as The Pillow Book), but I’m looking forward to stepping back and focusing on a long (and intimidating) book that I really do want to read.

Until then, the next week will also be slower reading-wise as I get caught up on finishing the Harlem Renaissance studying, reading a shorter really old classic or two (I read one last night!), and reading the Gaskell novel for the upcoming circuit. I started Mary Barton the other day and I am so excited to continue reading it after this beautiful passage:

“It was an early May evening – the April of the poets; for heavy showers had fallen all the morning, and the round soft, white clouds which were blown by a west wind over the dark blue sky, were sometimes varied by one blacker and more threatening. The softness of the day tempted forth the young green leaves, which almost visibly fluttered into life; and the willows, which that morning had had only a brown reflection in the water below, were now of that tender gray-green which blends so delicately with the spring harmony of colours.” (page 7)

How is your reading this week? What are you planning for December? Will you be reading slower? Or are you speeding up to finish all your challenges?

Finished Books

These are the books I did finish this week.

  • Two Histories of England by Jane Austen and Charles Dickens (160 pages; fictionalized nonfiction). FINISHED! For the Everything Austen Challenge. I first saw this on Heather J.’s blog and immediately had to go put it on hold so I could read it too!
  • Too Late the Phalarope by Alan Paton (285 pages; fiction). FINISHED!
  • Musicophilia: Tales of Music and the Brain by Oliver Sacks (audiobook, on 5 of 5 CDS; nonfiction). FINISHED! For the Science Book Challenge. So MAD to discover on the last CD that all of it had been abridged.
  • The King of Inventors: A Life of Wilkie Collins by Catherine Peters (425 pages; nonfiction/biography). FINISHED! For the Collins Classic Circuit tomorrow.
  • Aucassin et Nicolete by an anonymous author, translated by Andrew Lang (about 45 pages; fiction/really old classic). FINISHED! I loved revisiting this old favorite!

Abandoned Books

I returned unread two books this week.

  • Wilkie Collins: A Biography by Kenneth Robinson (nonfiction/biography). I decided to read the Peters’ biography only.
  • Wilkie Collins : A Literary Life by Graham Law (nonfiction/biography). I decided to read the Peters’ biography only.

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 350/455 pages; nonfiction).
  • Children’s Literature: A Reader’s History from Aesop to Harry Potter by Seth Lerer (295 read of 330 pages; nonfiction). For My History of Children’s Literature Project.
  • Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson (20 read of 196 pages; children’s fiction). For My History of Children’s Literature Project. I may get to this book 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.

  • Mary Barton by Elizabeth Gaskell (35 read of 484 pages; fiction). For the Gaskell Classic Circuit. I’ve read a little and I like it so far!
  • Carmen by Georges Bizet (opera). I’ve just begun this!
  • The Harlem Renaissance edited by Harold Bloom (nonfiction/essays). Background info for the upcoming (February) Classics Circuit.
  • The Harlem Renaissance: An Explosion of African-American culture by Richard Worth (on 40 of 125 pages; children’s nonfiction). Background info for the upcoming (February) Classics Circuit.
  • Alan Paton’s Cry, the Beloved Country (Bloom Commentary) (45 read of 115 pages; nonfiction/commentary). For my book club tonight! I may or may not read the other essays in this book.
  • Harlem STOMP! A Cultural History of the Harlem Renaissance by Laban Carrick Hill (on 55 of 135 pages; nonfiction/coffee table book). Background info for the upcoming (February) Classics Circuit.

New Library Loot

The only books I got were a bunch of “remodel your attic and basement books.” I’ll probably return them this week; I was just dreaming. I also picked up another opera for when I finish Carmen this week.

  • Don Giovanni by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (sound recording CD).


I’ll list all the Collins and Gaskell novels I want to read at the end of the Circuits!

  • How We Decide by Jonah Lehrer. The next book by Lehrer.
  • The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat by Oliver Sacks. Nymeth reviewed this other Sacks book the same day I reviewed my Sacks book!
  • Our Magnificent Bastard Tongue by John McWhorter. Eva reviewed this and it sounds just geeky enough to be delightful.

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 gone quieter in my reading even though I’ve finished NaNo. I’m just in that sort of mood. After I finish Ada – and I WILL finish it! – I plan to read Jude the Obscure by Hardy, The Painted Veil by Maugham, and maybe even Great Expectations by Dickens. I’m just in a classics mood lately. That of course will not help with the one challenge I still have going until the end of December (the Dystopian one), but I’m just not in the mood for that type of book lately…sigh.

  2. That passage from Mary Barton is indeed very lovely… I really need to read some Gaskell!

    As for my reading… sigh. Ever since I got sick a few weeks ago, I’ve been having a hard time getting myself back on track. It seems like the days are ridiculously short and there just doesn’t seem to be enough time to get in my reading. I can’t remember the last time I finished a book, and I’m lucky to get 20 pages completed per day for my current read. I want to be reading, but there’s so much to do that at the moment, it’s currently taking a backseat to other things.

  3. I’m looking forward to a quieter December too – good plan there. 🙂

    But what I really want to know is shat did you think of the Austen/Dickens book?!

  4. I like the unabridged versions in audio so I would have been quite disappointed to discover that too. Especially with Musicophilia it seems that there could have been a lot that you wanted to hear, but missed. Too bad.

  5. Amanda, I’m in a classics mood too — and I hope it stays around for a while!

    Steph, I’ve enjoyed every Gaskell I’ve read, although Cranford wasn’t a favorite. I understand how reading takes a back seat. I’m still reading, but I’m craving a slower pace.

    Heather, I reviewed it last Friday!

    Nicole, I was pretty mad that they hadn’t marked it Very Clearly on the cover! It was a great book, even abbreviated!

  6. Your December sounds nice and quiet. I’m determined to finish the Harry Potter novels in December. I’m rereading 1-6 then finally reading Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.

  7. I adore Gaskell’s descriptions of English countryside-her love for it really shines through. 🙂

    I expect I’ll scale back in December, because my niece is coming for a visit!

    I’ve never heard of that Paton book you just finished-I hope you talk about it at least a bit. 🙂

  8. I also plan on a quiet December. Will just be finishing Proust’s third volume and also Kristin Lavransdatter, the third volume. Maybe try to finish two challenges (one of which is Spice of Life!), but ultimately trying to squeeze in everything this month so December becomes more loose.

  9. Devoting oneself to a big, meaty book that’s been sitting on the shelf for a while is so satisfying! I hope you enjoy your blog-quiet December. The only books I definitely want to finish before the end of the year are Kristin Lavransdatter, Sula, and Of Human Bondage, and that seems very manageable.

  10. My reading is going so slow right now. I was in the middle of a few books but I just gave up and set a few of them aside for now. I hope you let us know more about your Harlem Renaissance project.

  11. I have noticed my reading has slowed down the past few months. Last month I only read 3 books. I am hoping to get to Persuasion by Austen, Moonstone by Collins, and if time 84 Charing Cross Road by Hanff this month. It might not happen though. I’m feeling overwhelmed. My blogging has dropped off considerably.

  12. Bella, that sounds like fun! I started a Harry Potter reread in the summer but I got bored (I know, blasphemy!)

    Eva, December just seems like it’s going to busy so I’m hoping reading doesn’t seem overwhelming. I liked Cry, the Beloved Country better than this other one, but I’ll make sure to talk about Paton.

    claire, finishing Proust and KL sounds like a big project, but I’m with you on wanting to get things done in November! Looking forward to your thoughts if you get a chance to write them up.

    Emily, those sound like good books to read! I’ll look forward to your thoughts!

    Vasilly, It’s hard to just get in to some books, I’ve had the same problem! I’ll make sure to talk about the Harlem Renaissance here!

    Haiku Amy, I think everyone is slowing down! It’s just life.

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