Reading Journal (July 1): Summer Reading

This is officially my first summer since I started book blogging: last June, July and August I was still in Australia, where it was winter. I didn’t think weather would make a difference on what I want to read, but it certainly does. I’m craving light books! I’m ready for some fluff!

Does warm weather change your reading plans? Can you recommend any fun “fluff reads? (Dare I ask?)

I joined my library’s summer program (Library Program A), which is to read 6 books. Then, a few weeks late, I also joined the summer program at the library I volunteer at (Library Program B). That program is to read 7 books in six categories: audiobook, poetry, mystery, historical fiction, fantasy, biography, and your choice. I technically am not required to read one in each category; I can choose any books I want. But I like the idea of finding some fun, light summer books to read in each category.

I’m joining some new challenges for the second half of the year (more on those later), and when I look at my list of “challenges” I see that I’m overextending myself yet again. My approach to joining challenges this time is different, however. At the beginning of the year, I joined the Dewey Decimal Challenge, for example, fully intending to read all 10 books. Now, however, I’m joining the “Take a Chance” Challenge, for example, only intending to do a little bit of it. I probably won’t finish all of my challenges, and I now feel remarkably okay about that. It’s fun to make lists and be a part of a little personal challenge, even if it’s unrealistic. Do you join challenges you don’t think you’ll finish?

Finished Reading

I finished a few books this week. Because I have been reading them so slowly, finishing them only meant a few hundred pages. I really enjoyed Guernesy, although it had its flaws. My sister and I will write a joint review when she finishes it.

I decided to return Uncle Tom’s Cabin to the library. I think I’ll try the annotated version in the fall, when it’s not so nice outside and we’re distracted by the sunshine and the park.

Finished or Abandoned Since Last Wednesday

  • Chicago: Then and Now by Elizabeth McNulty (150 pages; nonfiction/coffee table book) This had lots of pictures, so it was quick to skim through. I may do a joint review with the other Chicago architecture books in a few weeks. FINISHED!
  • The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Schaeffer and Anne Burrows (275 pages; fiction) FINISHED!
  • The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order by Samuel P. Huntington (320 pages; nonfiction). FINISHED!
  • Art History by Marilyn Stokstad (1150 browsed pages; nonfiction) FINISHED! I did not read this but rather browsed through it and looked at the pictures. I don’t know much about art! I still love Ancient Egyptian and 1800-1900 European art best.
  • Uncle Tom’s Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe (161 read of 388 pages; fiction) I returned this to the library without finishing it. I plan on revisiting it in a few months.

Currently Reading

I finally got The Arabian Nights back from the library (I had to return it and then request it again); while that doesn’t fit my “light” cravings, I’m finding if I read it in bulk in the evenings (such as 40 pages at a time) I can get through it better than when I read it in 5-10 page intervals. So I’ll aim for doing a “bulk read” once or twice a week until I’m finished.

My Books

  • Winnie-the-Pooh by A.A. Milne (82 read of 160 pages; children’s fiction) I have a head cold so I haven’t read aloud lately. My son flips through it, “reading” to himself.
  • Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J.K. Rowling (290 read of 750 pages; children’s fiction) I got through some of this book this week, but to my surprise, I’m rather bored of my friend Harry right now.
  • The Madonnas of Leningrad by Debra Dean (250 pages; fiction). My mother lent it to me with a high recommendation. I may begin it this week.

Library Loot, Old

  • The Words We Live By: Your Annotated Guide to the Constitution by Linda R. Monk (160 read of 263 pages; nonfiction) I am really enjoying this!
  • The Arabian Nights: A Companion by Robert Irwin (102 read of 292 pages; nonfiction) Not much progress this week.
  • The Good Earth by Pearl S. Buck (audiobook, on track 17, disc 7 of 9 discs, about 10.5 hours total; fiction)  almost finished
  • Lost Chicago by David Lowe (20 read of 270 pages; nonfiction/coffee table book). No progress this week.
  • The Chicago World’s Fair of 1893: A Photographic Record by Stanley Appelbaum (108 pages; nonfiction) Not yet begun
  • Chicago’s Classical Architecture: The Legacy of the White City (Images of America series) by David Stone (128 pages; nonfiction) Not yet begun

Library Loot, New

  • The Arabian Nights translated by Husain Haddawy (240 read of 425 pages; fiction). I had to return it to the library, but I now have it again. I should make a lot more progress this week.
  • The Forsyte Saga, Series 1 and Series 2 (4 episodes watched of 10, on 5 DVDs; 2002 fiction movie). Not at all like the book, but okay by itself; still, I’m getting bored and I may return it to the library without finishing it. I much prefer the book. I may try the older movie instead; I’ve heard better things about it.
  • Lincoln: A Photobiography by Russell Freedman (150 pages; children’s’ nonfiction). I’m leading the discussion for my book club next month. I read this first in March 2009.
  • The John Cheever Audio Collection (6 discs audiobook, about 6 ½ hours; fiction/short stories). My next audiobook; Twelve Cheever stories narrated by actors and the author himself.
  • Guns, Germs, and Steel by Jared Diamond (13 disc audiobook, about 16 ½ hours; nonfiction). Another audiobook for future listening pleasure.

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 think Georgette Heyer is my go-to fluff read right now! And she’s totally historical fiction. My favourite is Friday’s Child (I listened to it on CD). Continuing on the regency theme, Kate Ross wrote four wonderful mystery novels (at least the first three were wonderful), but they’re not particularly fluffy. (And if you haven’t read The Beekeeper’s Apprentice, pick that one instead!) Fluffy fantasy…I’d be all over the YA urban stuff. Wicked Lovely’s my favourite: it’s easy to read, but the issues it deals with are intense, so I’m not sure if it’s fluffy or not.

    I don’t join challenges I don’t think I’ll finish, which is why I try not to join a new one unless I’ve finished up an old one. Sometimes I mull over a challenge for a week or so, trying to decide if I really want to commit to it! And I don’t freak out if I don’t finish challenges; towards the end of the year, I might start double-counting books (which when making up the lists, I never ever do…I don’t see the point of joining a challenge when you’re planning on reading the books anyway) or checking books I’ve already read to see if any of them work, lol.

  2. I love that Take a Chance Challenge because it’s so flexible and it’s not one where you NEED to finish everything. It’s a just-as-much-as-you-can type of thing, and i love that.

    Harry Potter #4 is the one that drags me down the most in rereading. I probably read all six of the others in the same amount of time it takes me to get through #4.

  3. Eva, I haven’t read any Georgette Heyer yet, so I’m adding Friday’s Child to my shortlist. Beekeeper’s Apprentice is on my list for next week!

    Yeah, I know the concept of joining a challenge I won’t finish is kind of odd, but I love the list making and the ideas it generates on opening up my reading list. I just don’t read enough books to finish all the challenges without overlapping, but I was trying to at the first part of the year. As for planning to read the books anyway, that’s most books! LOL. I have an ever-increasing TBR, these days!

    Amanda, yeah, that challenge seems to be one that it doesn’t matter how many you get done. I’m kind of looking forward to being totally random. (Although I’m also scared I’ll hate a book I choose! Which is valuable reading time!)

    I’m just not into #4 and I think I may only get through 100 pages a week for the next two months until I’m just done with it. But then I wonder why I’m bothering. Rigth: the upcoming movie…

  4. Yes, I absolutely join challenges knowing full well that I probably won’t be able to complete them. They just look like so much fun, and I get caught up in the moment. However, I made a hard decision recently to abandon all of my reading challenges. I have to admit to myself that I’m too much of a mood reader and don’t do well with challenges. Weather definitely plays a role in my reading habits. My favorite thing about summer reading is actually reading outdoors. I’m interested to see what you thought of the Guernsey. I loved it, but have heard others that were not all that impressed.

  5. My reading never changes with the seasons, perhaps it’s because although I am a mood reader I chose by subject or culture and have always disliked easy reads. I know I’m odd man out on this question. You’ve read a lot in a week and much of it serious going. Glad you liked Guernsey, not perfect, as you say, but a fun read. I enjoyed Uncle Tom’s Cabin, and loved the Good Earth. There are three books, not just the one as most people think. I hope you’ll consider reading Sons, and A House Divided too. I loved The Madonnas of Leningrad, I hope you do. I’ve never read The Arabian Nights, I’ll watch for your comments on it. You have more serious reading ahead of you with this week’s loot. Non fiction requires a different level of concentration than fiction I think, no wonder you want something light. My light reading is mysteries. My LL post is up. Enjoy your loot.

  6. Lisa, Good for you to resist the pressure! I do like lists, so I can’t back away completely…

    Sanra, I didn’t every consider myself a mood reader and I’ve always avoided “easy reads” but I’m going to give it a try now! I started with Guernsey and that was good, so on to the next! I had to put down Uncle Tom for now and I’m enjoying The Good Earth, so I may need to look for more by Pearl S. Buck. Thanks for the reminder that she wrote more! I love nonfiction, but you’re right that sometimes it takes more concentration. Ah well, I love reading!

    Marg, I’m rethinking my claim that I don’t intend to finish: I think I mean that I don’t know if I possibly can! I have good intentions but life always gets in the way of them.

  7. Guns, Germs, and Steel is excellent. It’s quite heavy going but, I think, Diamond makes the material fly by. I wonder what it’ll be like on audiobook.

  8. I’m glad to hear that you enjoyed it. If the audiobook doesn’t work for me, I’ll try the solid version. I’m also not sure how it will be on audio, being heavy going.

  9. I agree with you about The Foresyte Saga – the book was MUCH better than the DVD series! I didn’t know there was an audio of Cheever stories that he’d narrated. I’ll have to look for that one.

  10. JoAnn, I’ve heard the 1960s version of the movie is better. I’ve already returned the 2002 version to the library, and now I’ll find the other one and give it a try. The Cheever stories is only about 12, so definitely not a complete sampling.

  11. I decide to go easy on challenge this year as I want to explore books and authors that I have been wanting to read. While I usually finish a challenge, i can be on a reading block at times, struggling between obligation and whim.

  12. Matthew, I can really see the challenges getting in the way of reading. I’m still enjoying it this year, but it’s my first real year, so I’ll have to see what I end up doing next year. But then I like making lists, so I can’t imagine not doing challenges!

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