Reading Journal (27 September): Cybils, Classics, and Book Clubs, Oh My!

I am so delighted that I can finally announce that I am on the panel for Cybils fiction picture books this year! This means the next few months will be a flurry of placing holds and searching the local libraries for the fiction picture books that have been nominated. If you’ve read a fiction picture published this year that you’ve loved, make sure you nominate it between October 1 and October 15. (That’s starting on Saturday!)

You may (or may not) remember that last fall I challenged myself to read as many of the nominees as I could. (I didn’t end up blogging about the process very much.) I read a good number of them, probably about 60-70%, based on which ones I could get from the library in a speedy fashion. It was an interesting experience. I was reading for myself and for my son, so I admit quickly discounted books that I knew my three-year-old wouldn’t be interested in, or books that I wasn’t crazy about. I wasn’t trying to find the best of the best, but rather to consider which is the best of the best for my son and myself.

This year, I am eager to get started finding the best of the best for all kids, putting together a list of finalists that I think appeal to kids as well as demonstrating great illustration technique, story and plot, and writing. I can’t wait to get started!

My reading of other books has sped up a little bit since I last admitted to having a slow end of July and August (during which, if you recall, I read one book). I’ve been reading a book or two a week this month. I’m trying to keep up with at least one classic a week, and while it works for the most part, things like Trollope and Eliot and Dickens are going to keep slowing me down. I’ve been reading Trollope’s The Eustace Diamonds this month. It’s a long one! Other long classics coming up are The Mill on the Floss and then Bleak House.

Bleak House is my January classics book club pick. My October read for that book club is The Woman in White (a reread I’m really looking forward to) followed by The Portrait of a Lady (my first James novel!) in November. I’m also hoping to get a number of the early 2012 books read this fall simply because I”m having a baby in February and I suspect my brain will turn to mush come those sleepless nights with a newborn.

Here’s the 2012 Classics Reading Group schedule if your curious:

January: Bleak House by Charles Dickens
February: The Heart is a Lonely Hunter by Carson McCullers
March: The Hunchback of Notre Dame by Victor Hugo
April: 1984 by George Orwell
May: Moby Dick by Herman Melville
June: The Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad
July: Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
August: Journey to the Center of the Earth by Jules Verne
September: Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
October: Tender is the Night by F. Scott Fitzgerald
November: The Last of the Mohicans by James Fenimore Cooper

I am not promising any number of posts this fall, since I’m going to be concentrating on the Cybils nominees. But, I do hope to check in now and then with thoughts on a great classic every now and then. I’m also trying to move some nonfiction back into my regular reading: I love nonfiction, but classics have been dominating this year. That’s okay too, but I have lots of unread books on my shelves that need to be either read or gotten rid of. (Do you ever feel this pressure? Why do I own it if I don’t want to read it…)

At any rate, this last week, I finished Woman: An Intimate Geography by Natalie Angier, a nonfiction book that unfortunately left me rather “meh.” I also finished Winesburg, Ohio by Sherwood Anderson and it surprised me by its powerful subtlety.

I am planning on reading one of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s stories from the volume of stories I have for Amy’s Nigerian Independence day project this week.  See details from Amy to join in.  I’m also currently reading Just My Type by Simon Garfield and I love it. (I’m a fonts nerd.) I may also finish the Trollope this week so I can get started on The Woman in White and/or The Mill on the Floss. For atmosphere, I may pick up The Tenant of Wildfell Hall or The Hunchback of Notre Dame, but then maybe I’m getting ahead of myself, giving my still slower reading pace these days. (I must admit that for the first time I didn’t sign myself up for The Classics Circuit tour. I just didn’t want the pressure of having to finish! And honestly, after spending hours pulling together the Gothic lit intro page, it just didn’t sound very good to me.) Nevertheless, there is so much to look forward to!

What are you looking forward to reading in the rest of 2012? Which of these books have you read?

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. The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, The Woman in White and The Mill on the Floss are all calling me too…

  2. Several of the books on your group’s schedule are on my TBR list although I have read and loved your selections for June, July, and September.

    I’m trying to read a classic (Tale of Two Cities) with the other books I am in the middle of. But it’s been difficult to mess it with a nonfiction selection, a fiction selection, and two textbooks.

    As for the Classics Circuit, I can understand not wanting the pressure of finishing. I debated back and forth between signing up and, honestly, I might have to bow out. I’m hoping to read one of the books I checked out during my short break in October but my schedule is quickly filling up.

    1. Christina » If you can’t do the Classics Circ, just send me an email and I”ll take you off the schedule. And yes, I imagine life is pretty busy during school! I did not do much free reading when I was a student myself!

  3. Congrats on the Cybils panel! You’ve also got some nice classics reading lines up. You’ll like Bleak House. It is slow to start and kind of hard to keep track of all the characters at first but stick with it and you will be rewarded.

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