Reading Journal (3 February): Black History Month

I’m already planning to read a Harlem Renaissance Classic for the Classics Circuit (Black No More), but I decided rather belatedly to read some more African-American history for Black History Month.  I went to my own bookshelves and was surprised to find I don’t have very many African-American books I haven’t read. I realize, as Teresa wrote about the other week, that I need to make acquiring African-American fiction a priority so I have it on my shelves.

I did find A Raisin the Sun, recently arrived from bookmooch, and I have a few Toni Morrison books and some others. I’m not sure I’m in the mood for another Morrison read right now, but I also requested a few books from the library: Frederick Douglass’s autobiography and Martin Luther King Jr.’s speeches in particular. I look forward to adding more African-American reading to my lineup in the future, even if I don’t get to them all this month.

I finished one book since February began, and it was a good one. On the other hand, Sense and Sensibility feels a bit disappointing. People kept telling me it wasn’t their favorite Austen, and I suspect it won’t be for me either. The characters feel flat and stereotyped. But, the romantic tension is starting to build, so maybe it will improve.

I’m making slow progress on Inventing English but I enjoy it and since I’m finished with Half the Sky (great book!) I’ll make that a priority. I also really need to read Dorian Gray this week, as my book club is coming up soon, and Schuyler’s novel: my Harlem Renaissance post date is approaching.

I keep checking out books. I’m never going to catch up.

Are you reading anything special in honor of Black History Month? Even if not, I hope you follow the Harlem Renaissance Circuit.

Finished Books

  • To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf (310 pages; fiction). For Woolf in Winter.
  • History of the English-Speaking People by Winston Churchill, abridged by Henry Steele Commager (470 pages; nonfiction). My Project Book.
  • Moses, Man of the Mountain by Zora Neale Hurston (300 pages; fiction). For the retelling portion of the Really Old Classics Challenge.
  • Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into opportunity for women worldwide by Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn (250 pages; nonfiction). For Women Unbound.

Currently Reading

Each week, I list my progress so I can see how my reading compares week to week. I did make a little progress on some of these.

My Books

Here are the books I own or downloaded. I’ve been rather horrible at reading my project book this week! I still have eleven days in the month to finish it, though, so it’s okay.

  • Our Latter-day Hymns: The Stories and Their Messages by Karen Lynn Davidson (120 read of 455 pages; nonfiction)
  • DNA by James Watson (35 read of 405 pages; nonfiction). My project book. Very readable so far!
  • A Raisin the Sun by Lorraine Hansberry (drama).

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.

  • Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen (130 read of 315 pages; fiction). My Valentine’s Day read.
  • Black No More: A Novel by George S. Schuyler (0 read of 190 pages; fiction). For the February Classics Circuit.
  • Inventing English: a portable history of the language by Seth Lerer (55 read of about 250 pages; nonfiction).
  • East of Eden by John Steinbeck (0 read of about 600 pages; fiction). For the Classics Reads Book Group. I haven’t started. I’m supposed to be halfway through by now.
  • The picture of Dorian Gray (Norton Critical Edition) by Oscar Wilde (0 read of about 190 pages; fiction). For my book club.
  • Oscar Wilde’s The picture of Dorian Gray: a graphic novel by Ian Culbard. Since I’m reading the original for my book club.
  • A visit to William Blake’s inn: poems for innocent and experienced travelers by Nancy Willard. A Newbery and Caldecott winner.
  • Kings : an account of books 1 and 2 of Homer’s Iliad; The husbands : an account of books 3 and 4; All day permanent red : the first battle scenes of Homer’s Iliad; and War music : an account of books 16 to 19 of Homer’s Iliad by Christopher Logue. These are each short (80-100 pages). For the retelling portion of the Really Old Classics Challenge.
  • A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens.

New Library Loot

  • A Room of One’s Own by Virginia Woolf. The brief biography in the introduction is very good, so I’m looking forward to this one!
  • Reading in Bed edited by Steven Gilbar. A collection of essays about our favorite topic: reading.


  • Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes. Mee. I keep hearing great things about this one!
  • The Gates by John Connolly. Stefanie. A bit out of my ordinary reading but it sounds incredible.
  • Beyond Blossoming Fields by Jun’ichi Watanabe. Tanabata. I was browsing her JLit lists.
  • Tales of Moonlight and Rain by Akinari Ueda. Tanabata. A JLit 1700s classic.
  • Rashomon and Other Stories by Ryunosuke Akutagawa. Tanabata. A JLit early 1900s classic of folklore stories.
  • Nevermore a Graphic Adaptation of Edgar Allen Poe. Nymeth. I don’t the Poe’s stories so maybe these retellings would be better for me.
  • A Journal of the Hebrides or London Journal by Boswell. Amateur Reader. I’m having a hard time deciding where to begin with Boswell, but Amateur Reader’s excitement is contagious.
  • The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro. Steph. Maybe this will be my first Ishiguro.

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. I agree about Sense and Sensibility. I’m not a huge fan of Austen to being with – she gets really tiresome really fast – but of the 5 I’ve read that’s my least favorite.

    I’m not reading any history for Black History Month, but I’m trying to dedicate at least 50% of my reading this month to POC books (author or character).
    .-= Amanda´s last post on blog ..Apologies to an Apple, by Maya Ganesan =-.

  2. I’m starting Dorian Gray this week.
    I haven’t read Sense and Sensibility but it is on the never-ending to read list.
    My knowledge of African American literature is sadly lacking, but with the Harlem Renaissance circuit I am broadening my horizons. I just finished Home to Harlem for my post for the Circuit and it was eye-opening for me.
    .-= Suzanne´s last post on blog ..On re-reading =-.

  3. Interesting – Sense & Sensibility was one of my favorite Austens, but I suspect it might just have hit me at the right time. I was up all night laughing when I read it! It was the novel where I really connected with Austen’s wicked wit. I was looking more for a satire than developed characters, though – maybe that had something to do with it.

    Glad to hear you’re enjoying Inventing English!
    .-= Emily´s last post on blog ..Cane =-.

  4. I haven’t read anything in honor of the month since I read my Harlem Renaissance choice last month and have only finished one book so far this month (a kid’s book, I might add). I also seriously overbooked myself with tours and scheduled reviews and I haven’t checked yet to see if any of those authors are African American (or even just plain African) so I don’t know if I’ll squeeze anything else in or not. Teach me to be more mindful when I sign up for stuff!
    .-= Kristen´s last post on blog ..A-Z Wednesday =-.

  5. I just read a ZNH book for the classics circuit, but other than that I don’t have any special plans for February. Maybe I should try some poetry. I love Raisin in the Sun! It’s excellent.

    I think Remains of the Day is the best place to start with Ishiguro. Better first read than Never Let Me Go, even though they’re both excellent.
    .-= Maire´s last post on blog ..Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston =-.

  6. Oh, I hope you enjoy the Douglass autobiography! He’s one of my favorite people in the whole history of time, and he writes beautifully. I love him because he is all about the power of words and stories. Such an incredible man.

    (I do not care for Sense & Sensibility either.)
    .-= Jenny´s last post on blog ..Beginning Fellowship =-.

  7. Stephanie, I felt the first half of S&S was slow but I enjoyed it in the end!

    Amanda, I still love P&P! I love your 50% POC goal.

    Suzanne, I hope you enjoy Dorian Gray. And I too have learned a lot of African-American literature lately. I’m glad, I feel so ignorant.

    Emily, S&S wasn’t my favorite but I can see how reading it at the right time might make it more favorite! Yes, Inventing English is fun!

    Kristen, I hear you! I wanted to dedicate March to mostly women authors (it’s Women’s History Month) and that is NOT going to happen…

    Kim, I’ll look forward to it, then!

    Marie, I’m glad to hear another rec for Remains of the Day!

    Jenny, I am so glad to hear you love it so much! It makes me excited to pick it up from the library!

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