Reading Journal (19 Aug): Miscellany

I’m behind on blogging this week, as in I have three reviews that need to be written. I’m behind on the administrative things, like memes (I still haven’t done the BBAW meme and nominations are already closed!). I’m behind on reading your blogs.

And yet, there are so many things I want to talk about.

I want to talk about how I finally caved in. I joined twitter. Do I really need to be online any more than I already am?! Is this really necessary?

I want to talk about how I got all warm and happy when I saw that I’ve been nominated for several BBAW awards. I felt like all the hard work is worth it! I know I am one of many, but I still feel all good inside: someone likes my blog! Enough to nominate me! Me! Thank you so much. It has given me such a feeling of confidence to know that my blog isn’t silly.

I want to talk about how reading everyone’s posts about classics for the Really Old Classics Bookworms Carnival I hosted yesterday was so much fun because it reminded me that there are people who still read the classics and like them! All those books I talked about yesterday? I want to read them. Now. Wouldn’t it be amazing to be so widely read? But not only that: I want to be able to converse about them. I want to be a deep reader too. I want to sit down with John Donne and the commentary about his poetry and I want to understand.

I want to talk about experiencing classics over the course of a few weeks, rather than hours.  While I enjoyed my July filled with modern fiction, I’m getting back into a classics mood. I spent almost a month listening to The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins, and it was fun to have that complicated mystery to look forward to. It was a pleasure. Now I’m reading Gulliver’s Travels at about the same pace (although it’s shorter, so I read less every week). While Swift is definitely not as fun, it’s still a relief. I can’t describe why reading a classic feels like a relief, it just does. It’s great, and stretching it out makes it real and physical, rather than a by-passed pleasure. I’m not reading to turn pages. I’m reading to read.

I want to talk about how much fun it is to read nonfiction. The knife book I’m reading is giving me all sorts of great pointers for kitchen skills and safety, and the architecture book I’m reading is, while it may be over-my-head in many points, absolutely fascinating. I find myself browsing the web for additional pictures of these old buildings that are just gorgeous, even more so now that I know how revolutionary their building was 120 years ago.

I want to talk about how I cried when we said good-bye to Pooh again this week, and how when I put down the book and wiped away my tears, my son looked up at me and said, “More? Pooh?”

So I guess what I’m saying is, I want to focus on what I’m reading in these Reading Journals. That means I guess I’ll have to do the other stuff – memes and what not – in separate posts. I love my reading.

What do you want to talk about this week? What are you reading? Do you twitter?

Finished Reading

See my notes by each book below.

  • 84, Charing Cross Road by Helene Hanff (95 pages; nonfiction). FINISHED! I also watched the movie. For the Take a Chance Challenge, chance number 10 book/movie comparison. I won’t review this until I’ve also finished the sequel.
  • The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins (librivox.org audiobook, 38 segments, 25.5 hours total; fiction) FINISHED! Downloaded via Librivox.org. Lots of fun.
  • The House at Pooh Corner by A.A. Milne (180 pages; children’s fiction). FINISHED! Reread; I still love this book!

My Books

I’m not making huge progress on the books I own: library due dates call me.

  • The Stories of John Cheever (20 of 61 stories, 820 pages total; fiction/short stories). Part of my Pulitzer Challenge. I’ve stalled on this; I just have so many other things on my plate. My goal is still five to ten stories a week.
  • The [Barnes and Noble] Poetry Library: John Donne (42 of 98 pages; poetry). My current poet. I’ve also stalled on this. No progress this week. Maybe as soon as I finish Architecture.
  • Gulliver’s Travels by Jonathon Swift (177 read of 355 pages; fiction). For My Children’s Literature Project. I finished part two (of four), and I’m aiming to finish part three this week. Taking this in small doses (10-20 pages a day, a few times a week) is smart.
  • Beloved by Toni Morrison (9 read of 275 pages; fiction). For the Beowulf on the Beach Challenge. No progress this week. I’ll restart this when I get some other things finished.

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 Chicago School of Architecture: A History of Commercial and Public Building in the Chicago Area, 1875-1925 by Carl W. Condit (145 read of 220 pages; nonfiction). So fascinating. I can’t wait until I go down town to Chicago so I can see these buildings in person.
  • An Edge in the Kitchen by Chad Ward (140 read of 210 pages; nonfiction/reference). For The Spice of Life Challenge. I am reading about 10 pages a day when I can. I really need to improve my knife skills. This week, I learned that my cutting boards are a big place for germs to grow.
  • The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold (on disc 6 of 11, about 11 hours total, audiobook; fiction). For the Take a Chance Challenge, chance number 1, random book selection. My requirements: fiction audiobook section, second aisle, third column form the right, third shelf down, tenth book in from right. This is okay, but not a favorite, especially due to the subject matter.
  • Bloom’s Major Poets: John Donne (110 pages; nonfiction/critical analysis). To help me make sense of Donne’s poetry. Not begun.
  • The Soul of Wit: A Study of John Donne by Murray Roston (220 pages; nonfiction/critical analysis). To help me make sense of Donne’s poetry. Not begun.
  • The Pillow Book of Sei Shonagon (trans. Ivan Morris) (265 pages, plus 140 pages end matter; fiction). For The Japanese Literature Challenge. I’m skimmed a few pages, and I’m eager to read this!

New Library Loot

I got a new books this week.

  • The Duchess of Bloomsbury by Helene Hanff (120 pages; nonfiction). The sequel to 84, Charing Cross Road.

Fantastic Finds

Oh dear. I finished three books and added another 17. Do you see my dilemma?

Fiction

  • Aya by Marguerite Abouet and Clement Oubrerie. Amanda from The Zen Leaf didn’t love the illustrations to this graphic novel but did like the sense of place. I do like the illustrations so it already looks good to me!
  • The Waste Land by T.S. Eliot. Jason at 5-Squared says “the mere experience of having it flood over you feels powerful.” That’s why I like poetry!
  • Nothing but Ghosts by Beth Kephart. I know I added this to my list the other week, but Amanda’s conflicted thoughts intrigued me more.
  • The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield. Raych at books I done read once again wrote a compelling review that makes me want to read this book.
  • Jeeves in the Morning by P.G. Wodehouse. I’ve never read about Jeeves, I don’t think. Steph’s review encourages me to do so.
  • Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston. I listened to the audiobook of this years ago, but Nymeth talks about the interesting dialect speech, and I wish I’d read it in print. Time for a revisit?
  • Embroideries by Marjane Satrapi. Amanda at the Zen Leaf liked this as she did Persepolis. I liked Persepolis too, so maybe it’s time to revisit this graphic novelist.
  • Jabberwocky reminagined and illustrated by Christopher Myers. Jessica at the Curious Reader points to an illustration of the Jabberwocky that retells it like as a basketball tale. I’m excited to read this! I love poetry interpretations like this!
  • The Jungle by Upton Sinclair. Julie at 5-Squared shares some great insights in to the book, other than the meat packing descriptions are disgusting. Those disgusting parts have always turned me away from this book, but it sounds like so much more.
  • Catch-22 by Joseph Heller. Lula at 5-Squared says, “Everyone should read it at least once. Keep the headache medicine close though.”
  • The Blind Assassin by Margaret Atwood. Claire at kisss a cloud has some interesting insights on this one. I have it on this year’s TBR.
  • Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathon Foer. Sophisticated Dorkiness loved this look at a boy dealing with his father’s 9/11 death. I’m not sure it’s for me, but I may have to look at it some day.

Nonfiction

  • Nineteenth-Century Mormon Architecture and City Planning by C. Mark Hamilton. Found via Amazon search.
  • How Buildings Learn: What Happens After They’re Built by Stewart Brand. Found via LibraryThing search.
  • A Field Guide to American Houses by Virginia McAlester. Found via LibraryThing search. A book to browse, not read cover to cover.
  • How to Read a Poem and Fall in Love with Poetry by Edward Hirsch and Poet’s Choice by Edward Hirsch. Valerie at Life is a Patchwork Quilt says the second is probably more accessible to the poetry amateur. I’ve had the first on my TBR for the year, but still haven’t gotten to it.

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. Haha, well, at least two of the three books you got from me are graphic novels that take only a tiny bit of time to read. No huge epics or hard thinkers! 🙂

    I’m glad to see you on Twitter!

  2. Amanda, yeah, maybe I’ll try to keep one light read in a week or something. Except I really am in a deep mood right now. Back to the classics for a while I guess.

  3. Congratulations on your BBAW nominations! It will be so fun to see who wins this year with all the great blogs out here!

    Lezlie

  4. you are reading some wonderful books-I wonder on the selection of Gulliver’s Travels as a book for children-I know most children have seen cartoons based on it-congratulations on your BBAW nomination

  5. Lezlie, Thanks. I love how everyone gets to know if they were nominated, not just if they were in the top group. It makes it so much fun because I just feel so special now, and it seems everyone does too!

    Mel, Thanks, I should clarify about the children’s literature project: for my project I’m reading a history of children’s literature that discusses Gulliver’s Travels. Gulliver’s Travels was the children’s literature of the early 1700s, or at least it was the basis for later children’s literature and adventure stories. I’m reading it so I have a basis for all the more modern stuff. I’d have to agree that I wouldn’t exactly hand it to my son and so go for it. It’s a bit over my head even at my age! 🙂

  6. “I want to read them. Now. Wouldn’t it be amazing to be so widely read? But not only that: I want to be able to converse about them. I want to be a deep reader too. I want to sit down with John Donne and the commentary about his poetry and I want to understand.”

    Oh Rebecca, you took the words right out of my mouth. I feel that was all the time! It’s delightful but completely frustrating, isn’t it? There’s never enough time. This is why I love reading your blog, you’re one of the “kindred spirits” as Anne Shirley would say.

    I’ll look for you on Twitter. I’m on Twitter too, @ghostblogger, but I find I don’t use it as much as I could. I’ll be interested to hear how you like it.

  7. Jenni, I think the balance between being widely read and deeply read is the hardest for me to find! I go through stages. I’m glad to find a kindred spirit. (I loved Anne when I was young!)

    So far I love Twitter! It’s like an entire conversation going on. I uploaded a firefox plugin (Twitterfox) which makes Twitter dangerously easy…

  8. I’ve been liking nonfiction a lot lately too. I just started a book on the history of blogging, and I have a book of essays on poetry which has been intriguing. I’ve been on a fiction kick most of the summer though, I think in response to all the non fiction during the school year.

  9. Kim, I’ve always been a big nonfiction reader. A history of blogging?! I’m pretty ignorant. I’d think it would be pretty short at this point. 🙂 But I’ve only been blogging for two years, so there you go.

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