As I warned last week, I have not been as active at blogging this week. I’ve read your blogs but not commented as much: I’ve taken to skimming far more often. I also haven’t posted a single adult review since last week: I do have some in the wings so don’t worry, I’ll get something up in the coming week! But that lack of blogging activity has been countered by an incredible amount of reading! I’ve had so much fun this week.
I read Oliver Twist for the first time in September in preparation for my book group. Then, last week, I started to prepare my “discussion questions” for book group and I ended up reading it again. I had intended to reread just parts of it. But I couldn’t stop. I loved it. The first time, I only liked it. It was good, but not a favorite I wanted to reread. After reading 100 pages of criticism and primary source documents about the Poor Law Acts of the 1830s (I love the Norton Critical Editions), Dickens’ setting and tone were more clear, and I loved rereading the novel.
So now I am in a deep Victorian mood, and I’ve started revisiting some of the authors I’ve so enjoyed in the past few months. I just couldn’t decide which to read first, so I started three of them: A Tale of Two Cities, The Moonstone, and North and South. Since I’ve begun three at once, I’ve only made minimal progress; I’ll probably finish The Moonstone first. I’m going to read a biography of Collins for the upcoming Classics Circuit and a different novel of Gaskell’s for the Gaskell Circuit, so I do want to finish The Moonstone before I read the biography, and North and South before I begin Mary Barton.
I also started an audiobook biography of Jane Austen. It’s fairly short and I am loving it dearly (it has a wonderful Jane Austen-esque British-accented narrator). I’ve also started Macbeth which is not the challenging read I expected! And then I’ve been struggling to read a book in Spanish: it’s a good experience and a challenge for me, but it has not been light reading.
Next month, I intend to read Sense and Sensibility, because I feel I just can’t get enough Jane Austen! I also hope to get to Tennant of Wildfell Hall and maybe my first Antony Trollope, The Way Things Were, next month. I wanted to get to George Elliot as well, but she may have to wait until December, as November also has my next book club meeting (Cry, the Beloved Country).
November is also the beginning of The Really Old Classics Challenge, which I’m co-hosting. I intend to start reading The Pillow Book come November 1. I won it from Literary Feline in a giveaway, and I am so excited to read a new book that I own (as opposed to these old bookmooch and library books I’m usually reading). I also will read some shorter classics for that challenge, like Medea.
At any rate, to take a break from Victorians and Shakespeare and Spanish, I thought I’d pick up a food memoir, since the Spice of Life Challenge is my own.
But I have been more than a little disappointed to read Julie and Julia after these classic Victorians. You must understand: I’m incredibly excited to see the movie (some day, when it’s out of the theaters) and I was dying to read the book. I entered probably five online giveaways so I wouldn’t have to wait in a library cue, and I was delighted to finally win it from the publisher! But Julie Powell is rambling and whiny and constantly talking about her own sex life as well as that of people around her. And then there is her foul language. I believe this book is not so much about food but about how food and cooking is an allegory for sex, and that really is not for me. The negative reviews I read recently should have alerted me to the fact that this is not a book for me. Honestly, I picked it up this week because the book is brand new and it has that “brand new scent.” I wanted to read it for that scent alone.
I can’t do it, though. I am hating it, and I suspect I will only hate it more once I get to the chapters Rose City Reader talks about in her review. So instead, I have requested Julia Child’s memoir and a few other highly recommended food memoirs from the library that I look forward to reading in the coming weeks. They won’t have the new book smell, but maybe they will be worth reading.
I know a lot of people love this book. Did you, however, nevertheless want a brand-new copy of Julie and Julia with that brand-new book scent? I’ll send you my copy. Leave a link in the comments and I’ll select a winner randomly using random.org. (I normally don’t giveaway books I can’t stand, but since this one is brand new and I know there are probably a few people out there want it, I figured I might as well.) Giveaway open to anyone across the globe.
I’ve finished a number of books this week, and abandoned one.
- Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens (480 + 100 pages; fiction)/Norton Critical Edition (100 pages read; nonfiction). FINISHED! I reread the novel and read about 100 pages of the commentary.
- The Magic Flute (1 ½ hour audio CD; nonfiction). This isn’t a book to count in book totals; rather it’s commentary on the opera by the Chicago Lyric Opera, with samples of the music as he discusses the story. I loved it! It’s such a great way to approach opera, I’ll look for more at the library next time I go.
- Julie and Julia by Julie Powell (about 25-50 read of 360 pages; nonfiction/memoir). Abandoned. I was really looking forward to this, but I can’t stand it so far. Maybe I’ll stick with the movie?
- The Great Equations: Breakthroughs in Science from Pythagoras to Heisenberg by Robert P. Crease (270 pages; nonfiction). FINISHED! For the Dewey Decimal Reading Challenge (500s).
- Complications by Atun Gawande (290 pages; nonfiction). FINISHED! I thought this was good, but not as fascinating as Better. For the 2009 Science-Book Challenge .
Each week, I list my progress so I can see how my reading compares week to week. I got four fun bookmarks and a bumper sticker (which I’m using as a bookmark) from J.T. at Bibliofreak from a BBAW giveaway. I thought it would be fun to note which bookmark is in which book! I’ve had fun trying to match the bookmarks to the books I’m reading!
I keep starting new books.
- The Stories of John Cheever (22 of 61 stories, 820 pages total; fiction/short stories). Part of my Pulitzer Challenge. I didn’t read any this week…Victorian literature kept calling me! Bookmark: homemade magnetic Christmas bookmark.
- Our Latter-day Hymns: The Stories and Their Messages by Karen Lynn Davidson (75 read of 350/455 pages; nonfiction). I didn’t read any this week, thanks to the Victorian literature. Bookmark: BYU Bookstore Education Week schedule from many years ago.
- Children’s Literature: A Reader’s History from Aesop to Harry Potter by Seth Lerer (230 read of 330 pages; nonfiction). I didn’t read any this week; see note about Victorian kick! Bookmark: Nathaniel Hawthorne (with a metallic book on the end of it).
- La Casa en Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros (75 read of 115 pages; Spanish translation, fiction). For Hispanic Heritage Month. (Obviously, it will be finished and reviewed after Oct 15.) Bookmark: Reading is Sexy bumper sticker.
Old Library Loot
- Classics for Pleasure by Michael Dirda (about 125 pages of 324 pages; nonfiction). I picked this up to get ideas for The Classics Circuit. Make sure you submit your own ideas for future tours! No bookmark – I’m flipping through it at random when I feel like it!
- MacBeth by Shakespeare (play and audiobook). For the RIP IV Challenge. Bookmark: I Laughed, I Cried.
- Proust was a Neuroscientist by Jonas Lehrer (215 pages; nonfiction). For the Science Book Challenge.
- The Secret Life of Wilkie Collins by William Clarke (250 pages; nonfiction/biography). For the Collins Classic Circuit.
- Jane Austen: A Biography by Carol Shields (on 4 of 5 CDs about 5 hours total; nonfiction/biography). For Martel-Harper Challenge and Everything Austen Challenge.
- Guns Germs and Steel by Jared Diamond (425 pages; nonfiction). I’m going to try again, not audio. (The audio put me to sleep). For the World Citizen Challenge.
New Library Loot
I keep getting sidetracked from the books I own with these great library books!
- The Neil Gaiman audio collection (about 1 hour on 1 disc; children’s fiction). I will begin after I finish the Jane Austen biography.
- The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins (on 227 of 552 pages; fiction). Bookmark: Unputdownable.
- North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell (on 82 of 425 pages; fiction). Bookmark: Happily Ever After. (I’m hoping it will be; it’s kind of sad right now!)
- A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens (on 57 of 386 pages; fiction). Bookmark: Once Upon a Time.
- Jane Austen’s Little Advice Book by Jane Austen (125 pages; quotes from Austen’s fiction).
- Too Many Cooks : Kitchen Adventures with 1 Mom, 4 Kids, and 102 Recipes by Emily Franklin (360 pages; nonfiction/memoir/cookbook).
- The Photographer by Emmanuel Guibert (267 pages; nonfiction/memoir/graphic novel).
- The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros (115 pages; fiction). The original English version of the book I’m attempting in Spanish.
- Mary Barton by Elizabeth Gaskell (484 pages; fiction). For the Gaskell Classic Circuit.
I am trying to do better at adding things to this list that I really want to read – as opposed to just liking the sound of it!
- Hateship, Friendship, Courtship, Loveship, Marriage by Alice Munro. Claire of Kiss a Cloud. I haven’t read any of Munro’s stories yet!
- At Large and At Small by Anne Fadiman’s essay collection. Eva at A Striped Armchair says it’s better than Ex Libris, which I loved.
- Angels and Insects by A.S. Byatt. Eva at A Striped Armchair says people who like Possession would like these two novellas.
- The Children’s Book by A.S. Byatt. Ballet Bookworm at Scuffed slippers and wormy books loved this no-plot chronicle. (I know tons of other people have reviewed it too!)
- Howard’s End by E.M. Forster. Nymeth at Things Mean a Lot. She say it’s about “how what connects us outweighs what divides us.”