I like to read lots of books at once so I can choose which to read at any particular moment. But there is something so wonderful about focused reading.
I spent a few nights just concentrating on architecture. First, I finished the last 60 pages (which took longer to read than I’d like to admit) of the book about the Chicago school, and then I started another book about architecture. I really like to look at a picture of a building and learn what it is about it that makes it so majestic or useful or beautiful. I like learning the technical terms.
And then I focused on John Donne. I’m still not done with Donne, even though I’ve finished the slim Barnes and Noble volume. I was all prepared to hate his poetry, especially after I found myself confused so often. I had to keep rereading a poem because my brain had just kind of glossed over it. And then I read the Divine Sonnets. Oh, I love that poet! I’m going to go back and read those sonnets again. Now I know what Helene Hanff (in The Duchess of Bloomsbury) was so interested in John Donne and his sermons. I loved the personal struggles he writes about as he tries to reconcile himself, a sinner, to God. I can relate. Those sonnets are so well done.
I finished a number of other books, but they weren’t intense books; I’ve been reading/listening a little every week. In the coming week, I look forward to finishing Gulliver’s Travels, which hasn’t been too bad stretched out, and starting Beloved, which is one of my favorite books. I’m feeling like focusing on fiction for a few weeks!
Do you focus your reading? What are you focusing on now?
I’m going out of town for Labor Day, and I don’t want to have posts going up when I’m not able to moderate comments and what not. Do you mind double posts in one day? I try to avoid them, but I’m afraid I’m going to have a book review backup during BBAW; I don’t want to clog your Google Reader that week! It may be a non-issue since I’m not sure I have time to post more than one post each day; I’m just curious what you think about double posts from the same blogger.
See my notes by each book below.
- The Duchess of Bloomsbury by Helene Hanff (145 pages; nonfiction). FINISHED! The sequel to 84, Charing Cross Road.
- The Chicago School of Architecture: A History of Commercial and Public Building in the Chicago Area, 1875-1925 by Carl W. Condit (220 pages; nonfiction). FINISHED! I am seriously excited to go to downtown so I can see these buildings in person.
- The Pillow Book of Sei Shonagon (trans. Ivan Morris) (265 pages, plus 140 pages end matter; fiction). Returned unread. For The Japanese Literature Challenge. It’s with heavy heart that I return it unread. I really do want to read it, but I haven’t started in three weeks. I’ll have to request it in a few more weeks when I’m sure I’ll get to it! I will read it by the end of January, just not this month.
- The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold (about 11 hours total, audiobook; fiction). FINISHED! 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.
- An Edge in the Kitchen by Chad Ward (210 pages; nonfiction/reference). FINISHED! For The Spice of Life Challenge. I’ll review the book once I use it to help me sharpen my knives. Unfortunately, reading about sharpening knives is still pretty over my head. I’m still intimidated.
- The [Barnes and Noble] Poetry Library: John Donne (98 pages; poetry). FINISHED! My current poet. Still studying a little more, even though I finished this volume.
I’m excited to get in to Beloved this week.
- The Stories of John Cheever (20 of 61 stories, 820 pages total; fiction/short stories). Part of my Pulitzer Challenge. On hold for the next week.
- Gulliver’s Travels by Jonathon Swift (290 read of 355 pages; fiction). For My Children’s Literature Project. I’m aiming to finish the book this week.
- Beloved by Toni Morrison (25 read of 275 pages; fiction). For the Beowulf on the Beach Challenge, the Summer Lovin’ Challenge, and The RIP IV Challenge. I started this book last night and I am so excited to read it again! I love this book.
- Dracula by Bram Stoker (librivox.org audiobook, 27 segments, about 16 hours total; fiction). For the RIP IV Challenge. I just downloaded this yesterday, and I’m excited to start listening! Post on that challenge to come soon.
- Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White (8 read of 190; children’s fiction). I just started reading this to my son.
Old Library Loot
- Bloom’s Major Poets: John Donne (15 skimmed of 110 pages; nonfiction/critical analysis). To help me make sense of Donne’s poetry.
- 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.
New Library Loot
I got a few new books this week.
- Nineteenth-Century Mormon Architecture and City Planning by Mark Hamilton (50 read of 140 pages, plus 50 pages of notes; nonfiction). As I read about Chicago architecture, I felt a curiosity to learn about early Mormon architecture (like the style of the Salt Lake Temple). I skimmed some of the early material on city planning, but the architecture info is fascinating to me.
- Gulliver’s Travels: The Politics of Satire by Ronald Knowles (150 pages; nonfiction/literary criticism). To help me in my reading of Swift.
- Jonathan Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels: Modern Critical Interpretations edited by Harold Bloom (195 pages; nonfiction/literary criticism). To help me in my reading of Swift.
- Twentieth Century Interpretations of Gulliver’s Travels edited by Frank Brady (115 pages; nonfiction/literary criticism). To help me in my reading of Swift.
- Bloom’s How to Write about Toni Morrison (200 pages; nonfiction/literary criticism). I may skim the section on Beloved.
In addition to the books I mention below, I’m working on my RIP list. I’ll share soon. Most of the nonfiction came below from various searches for specific books.
- Breakfast at Tiffany’s by Truman Capote. Life is a Patchwork Quilt read this and compared it to the movie. I liked the movie, and she liked the book better than it, so I should give it a try.
- if nobody speaks of remarkable things by Jon McGregor. Julia at Echoes of Narcissus says it is “simply beautiful — it makes you think in poetry.”
- The Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Speare. book I done read thinks her younger self would have loved it even more.
- Alias Grace by Margaret Atwood. Nymeth’s new favorite Atwood.
- After by Amy Efaw. Amanda at the Zen Leaf could just keep gushing about this YA novel about a pregnant teen.
- Cranford by Elizabeth Gaskell. Lezlie at Books N Border Collies found this classic easily accessible
- The Polysyllabic Spree by Nick Hornby. Lezlie says it’s an interesting book about “the reading life, what it’s like to be a dedicated reader.”
- Writing Chicago: modernism, ethnography, and the novel by Carla Cappetti. Found on LibraryThing search.
- Encyclopedia of the Chicago Literary Renaissance by Jan Pinkerton. Found on LibraryThing search.
- Building Jerusalem: The Rise and Fall of the Victorian City by Tristram Hunt. Recommended by Jason of 5-Squared.
- The Great Equations: Breakthroughs in Science from Pythagoras to Heisenberg by Robert P. Crease. I saw this on a library shelf and don’t want to forget about it. I don’t know much about math, and this looks like it’s at my level.