Reading Journal (25 November): Unplugged Edition

Although I’ve been pretty quiet around here lately, I am still needing more of a blogging break for personal reasons. Then I saw this:

There are no rules to this challenge. Just give yourself permission to step away. And do it.

I plan on being away from email, the blog, twitter, etc. from Wednesday night until Friday night. I may check in over the weekend, and I’m planning on having some regular posts next week, but overall, I’m giving myself permission to step away for as long as I feel I need. I also am hoping for time away during the Christmas holidays. I may even make it to New York City in the next few weeks!

This also means I won’t be reading your Classics Circuit posts until next week either. Don’t worry: I’ll be around! I’ve been reading some info for the February tour and I’m still looking forward to being a part of The Classics Circuit a lot in general (since I started it…). But I’m going to give myself permission to not blog and instead go to the circus, decorate the Christmas tree, bake Christmas cookies, and otherwise build holiday traditions with my toddler, who might actually remember this year!

Are you going to unplug this week?

This week’s reading was full. My husband worked long hours (and he was out of town until midnight Friday) so I got lots of reading time. In the past, I would have used that time for blogging, but instead, I’ve been reading.

After my French medieval romance reading last week, I picked up my Norton Anthology of World Masterpieces and read a Greek play. It reminded me a lot of Macbeth, and I look forward to sharing it with you. I also started Gawain and the Green Knight and The Song of Roland but since I didn’t get more than a few pages in either, I haven’t listed them below. I was tired; I will try again soon! I’ve forgotten how much I enjoy the really old classics. Thank goodness for the pressure of my own challenge!

I’m enjoying my Harlem Renaissance introduction, and I am looking forward to introducing the literature to you so we can all read it come February.

Although I enjoyed the operas a bit, I got opera burn out and instead turned to Merimee’s novella. It wasn’t a masterpiece, but it was entertaining.

Mary Barton on the other hand was rather depressing. The first 200 pages were rather torturous. It got better and I’m glad I read it, but in those moments when I couldn’t take any more Gaskell, I had to turn to Willa Cather’s My Antonia, which I’ve been wanting to reread for a long time. I still love it, to my relief!

I also finished the Children’s Literature textbook, which I started last summer (as in 2008). I have read the first six chapters about three times each, and I plan on going back over the others in detail as well as I read through some of the historical children’s books mentioned. I have not made much progress on the Robert Louis Stevenson for that project, though. Maybe this week?

Finished Books

These are the books I did finish this week.

  • 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). Background info for the upcoming (February) Classics Circuit. Awesome book! I wish I owned it.
  • Carmen by Georges Bizet (opera on CD, plus commentary).
  • Don Giovanni by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (opera on CD, plus commentary).  I got tired of opera this week, so I didn’t appreciate this much.
  • 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). For My History of Children’s Literature Project.
  • Mary Barton by Elizabeth Gaskell (484 pages; fiction). For the Gaskell Classic Circuit. I liked the last 300 pages, but the first 200 were slow for me!
  • The Harlem Renaissance: An Explosion of African-American culture by Richard Worth (115 pages; children’s nonfiction). Background info for the upcoming (February) Classics Circuit.

Abandoned Books

I returned unread or partially read one book this week.

  • Alan Paton’s Cry, the Beloved Country (Bloom Commentary) (about 80 read of 115 pages; nonfiction/commentary). For my book club. This is a cross between Norton Critical Editions and Spark Notes, and not as good as either; the essays are too “high brow” but the chapter summaries are idiotic. I was also not impressed with Harold Bloom’s insights.

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 (20 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.
  • The Pillow Book by Sei Shonagon (about 350 pages; fiction/really old classic).  I haven’t begun yet!
  • Jesus the Christ by James E. Tallmadge (about 750 pages; nonfiction). This is my December project. I haven’t begun yet. Correction: I’ve begun it about 10 times, but I have never gotten very far.

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 (65 read of 300 pages; nonfiction/essays). Background info for the upcoming (February) Classics Circuit.

New Library Loot

The books I got are rather Willa Cather heavy. I’m hosting a book club for Death Comes for the Archbishop and I thought I’d read a few other of her novesl.

  • My Antonia by Willa Cather (140 read of 265 pages; fiction). I started this comfort reread when I got feed up with Mary Barton.
  • 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 1 of 10, about 11 ½ hours total; nonfiction/science).
  • A Son at the Front by Edith Wharton. For the Wharton Classics Circuit. I’m first in January, so I’d better get reading!


Although I keep finding tons of books I want to read, I’m trying to limit this list to ones I really want to keep in mind for the immediate future.

  • Baby Catcher by Peggy Vincent. A Striped Armchair liked this memoir of a midwife. Since I loved my experience with a midwife, I’d be interested in this too.
  • Chicken with Plums by Marjane Satrapi. Amanda at the Zen Leaf enjoyed this and I like the concept behind it!
  • The Book: The Life Story of a Technology by Nicole Howard. Stefanie at So Many Books keeps giving me tantalizing details from this book.

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. It sounds like you’re getting more comfortable with a reading/blogging balance. 🙂 I STILL haven’t finished listening to Gaskell’s Ruth-I keep getting distracted by TV on DVD instead, lol. It’ll be done in time for me to do my Circuit post, but I’m glad I have several more weeks.

    Yay for Baby Catcher! It’s so good!

  2. Enjoy being unplugged 🙂 You should take as long as you want to and not worry about it. I’m looking forward to some family time this weekend as well.

    I got Baby Catcher from the library too — I love the cover, although the hardcover I got looks slightly different.

  3. I think I’m always intermittently “unplugging” myself from my blog (and even others, when I’m on vacation)! I really admire the people who are able to post daily, but I don’t think I have that in me, so I just post when I can and hope that it’s enough.

    And I’m so excited to hear you might get to make it to New York! We just loved it, and I desperately want to go back. Also, by the time you re-plug into the internet we should have our recap post up, so that might give you a few ideas for your trip, should you make it to the Big Apple!

  4. Enjoy your unplugged time! I’m glad I’ve tempted you with The Book. I first got a copy from the library but have since bought one for myself and returned the library book. It’s too fun not to keep around! Happy Thanksgiving!

  5. Have fun on your mini-break. We’ve been vacationing-at-home this week and I’ve barely been in the house, do ing all my christmas shopping and NaNo socialing and stuff. I need to do Christmas decorations this weekend!

  6. I chuckled when I saw the Blogger Unplugged challenge, because I’ve been taking a day a week (Saturdays) away from the computer myself. It really helps with my sanity level. I hope you find the same is true for you, and enjoy your holiday!

  7. Eva, well, I feel I’ve been neglecting the blog, but it feels nice to do other stuff.

    Lezlie, thanks!

    Kim, it should be a good weekend.

    Jordan, WOW, I’d agree, not a good selection for a young class to read, let along discuss!

    Steph, I’ve been blogging regularly for so long I have a hard time walking away! But I’m going to!

    Stefanie, I’m glad it was such a satisfying purchase — I’ve obviously been tempted!

    Amanda, I haven’t even begun to think of Christmas shopping! Thank goodness for online!

    Emily, I have been trying to stay away on weekends, but it always calls me! I’m looking forward to the no pressure weekend. And since so many others are away this weekend too, I won’t be missing anything!!

  8. I unplugged earlier this week. It felt good to not try and force myself to post anything. Instead I relaxed. I didn’t get any reading done but that’s ok. Have a great weekend.

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