Reading Journal (11 Nov): I Am a Quitter

When I was in junior high school, I had to make a family crest for our medieval times unit, and it had to have a family motto on it. I decided on “Never Quit” because that was our family way of doing things: we were expected to finish what we started.

Despite my fine upbringing, I hereby officially declare myself a quitter. I hereby quit the challenges that end at the end of December: 9 for 09 challenge (for which I still have five books unread), the BiblioShakespeare Challenge (for which I lack two books or Bard-written plays), and the World Citizen Challenge (for which I lack three books; I’ve already read four). I was going to take a picture of the stack of those books, which have been taunting me for weeks, saying “Read me now or you won’t finish the challenge and then you’ll be a failure!” They go back to the library tomorrow morning. But if I wait to get a picture, I’ll never post this.

Note that this quitting of challenges is just for those three I mentioned above. I still have one 800s book for the Dewey Decimal Reading Challenge (commentary on Alan Paton I want to read for my book club), half of a book plus a movie for the Everything Austen Challenge, about one more hour of Oliver Sacks for the Science Book Challenge, and then The Japanese Literature Challenge and Really Old Classics Challenge that end in January and February which I’m really excited about. I also like the idea of the Women Unbound challenge and I’ll focus on finding books with women’s issues to add to my reading.

This quitting may have something to do with the fact that I woke up this weekend with the flu and I spent two days this week essentially unconscious as I slept and my son ran his cars over my head. Now I’m in a non-energetic slump (but at least I could read again yesterday without the words getting blurry before my eyes).

I also want to apologize because I have not opened Google Reader in more than a week: I was waiting until Monday and then, well, I was not feeling well on Monday. I’ve tried to leave a few comments around the blogosphere in the last two days and I sincerely apologize if they were not coherent. I am just hoping this post is coherent. I realize blogging is about the community and I want to get back to it. I’m just not feeling well enough to face the high number of unread posts that will certainly great me in Reader. Hopefully I will in a few more days.

In happier news, I’m delighted that Edith Wharton is visiting the Circuit in January! Sign up by Saturday morning (8 a.m. CST) if you’d like to host her on your site.

What is your family (or personal) motto?

How are you doing on your challenges that end by Dec 31?

Finished Books

These are the books I did finish this week.

  • Cry, The Beloved Country by Alan Paton (285 pages; fiction). FINISHED! For my book club.
  • Jane Austen’s Little Advice Book by Jane Austen (125 pages; quotes from Austen’s fiction). FINISHED! For the Everything Austen Challenge. This was a fun hour! I am so excited to read Austen’s novels.
  • My Life in France by Julia Child (300 pages; nonfiction/memoir). FINISHED! I loved this book.
  • The Secret Life of Wilkie Collins by William Clarke (205 pages; nonfiction/biography).  FINISHED! For the Collins Classic Circuit. Although it was interesting, it was a bit unsatisfying, so I began another biography as well (see below).

Abandoned Books

As I mentioned above, I’m quitting the remaining yearly challenges for the year, which means returning all of those books that have been taunting me. Maybe I’ll pick up some of them in January. (I separated them out because it was a bit overwhelming all together.

  • Tender at the Bone: Growing Up at the Table by Ruth Reichl. Abandoned unread. I had to return this book to the library. I do want to read it, but I think I’ll have to keep it for next year (maybe for the next Spice of Life Challenge!).
  • Guns, Germs, and Steel by Jared Diamond (45 read of 425 pages; nonfiction). For the World Citizen Challenge. Returned unread. I may revisit it in January.
  • Naked Economics: Undressing the Dismal Science by Charles Wheelan (nonfiction). For the World Citizen Challenge. Returned unread. I may revisit it in January.
  • One People: Many Journeys. A coffee table book illustrating people around the world. I picked it up as an “anthropological” book for the World Citizen Challenge, but I’m not certain it technically counts as such. At any rate, I returned it unread.
  • The Photographer by Emmanuel Guibert (267 pages; nonfiction/memoir/graphic novel). Returned unread. It looks very good, but I ran out of time, it’s due, and I’m sick.
  • I Feel Bad about My Neck and Other Thoughts on Being a Woman by Nora Ephron (audiobook; nonfiction/memoir/essays). Returned unread.
  • Around the World Cookbook by Abigail Johnson Dodge. A kids’ cookbook. I read some and tried a recipe.
  • $3 Meals: Feed Your Family Delicious, Healthy Meals for Less than the Cost of a Gallon of Milk by Ellen Brown. I skimmed some of this.
  • Yum-O! : The Family Cookbook by Rachel Ray. I skimmed some of this.
  • Rachael Ray’s Big Orange Book by Rachel Ray. I skimmed some of this.

Currently Reading

Each week, I list my progress so I can see how my reading compares week to week.

My Books

Now that I’m dropping some of the pressure-filled challenges, I can focus on my longer term books I’ve been neglecting. (That’s the idea, anyway!)

  • Our Latter-day Hymns: The Stories and Their Messages by Karen Lynn Davidson (80 read of 350/455 pages; nonfiction). I didn’t read any more
  • Children’s Literature: A Reader’s History from Aesop to Harry Potter by Seth Lerer (254 read of 330 pages; nonfiction). For My History of Children’s Literature Project.
  • Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson (20 read of 196 pages; children’s fiction). For My History of Children’s Literature Project. On hold for this week.
  • Too Late the Phalarope by Alan Paton (on 120 of 285 pages; fiction).

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.

  • Mary Barton by Elizabeth Gaskell (484 pages; fiction). For the Gaskell Classic Circuit. I have not yet begun this. Maybe this week?
  • Musicophilia: Tales of Music and the Brain by Oliver Sacks (audiobook, on 5 of 5 CDS; nonfiction). I haven’t gone anywhere lately (it’s the audiobook in my car), so I didn’t finish as I anticipated.
  • Carmen by Georges Bizet (opera). I have not begun this yet. Next for the car!
  • The Harlem Renaissance edited by Harold Bloom (nonfiction/essays). Background info for the upcoming (February) Classics Circuit.

New Library Loot

I got a few books that I’m eager to read!

  • Two Histories of England by Jane Austen and Charles Dickens (on 55 of 160 pages; fictionalized nonfiction). For the Everything Austen Challenge. I first saw this on Heather J.’s blog and immediately had to go put it on hold so I could read it too!
  • The Harlem Renaissance: An Explosion of African-American culture by Richard Worth (on 40 of 125 pages; children’s nonfiction). Background info for the upcoming (February) Classics Circuit.
  • Alan Paton’s Cry, the Beloved Country (Bloom Commentary) (115 pages; nonfiction/commentary). I plan on counting this for the Dewey Decimal Reading Challenge. Also, for my book club.
  • 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.
  • The King of Inventors: A Life of Wilkie Collins by Catherine Peters (150 read of 425; nonfiction/biography). For the Collins Classic Circuit.
  • Wilkie Collins: A Biography by Kenneth Robinson (nonfiction/biography). I will probably not read this one, as I decided to read the Peters’ biography, but I’m hanging on to it just in case.
  • Wilkie Collins : A Literary Life by Graham Law (nonfiction/biography). I will probably not read this one, as I decided to read the Peters’ biography, but I’m hanging on to it just in case.

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. Hope you’re feeling better! I haven’t gotten into challenges this year, but I am always amazed that people can find the time to complete one or two. Once things settle down in 2010, I may look into doing a challenge or two.

  2. I hope you are feeling better as well!

    I always feel a little guilty when I can’t finish a book, but sometimes I’m able to get back to it — it took me two or three times to get through Atonement by Ian McEwan and at least five to get through Jane Eyre (both worth it!). At the same time though, there are so many books out there to be read that it seems a waste to spend a whole lot of time on one that is not holding your interest.

    I need to know more about all of these reading challenges — how does one find them?

  3. Definitely a coherent post:) Out of the 30+ challenges I joined for this year, I didn’t complete 6. I wanted to have all my challenges wrapped up sometime this month because I wanted to leave December completely open for Christmas reads as well as a slower reading pace in order to enjoy holiday traditions. Sometimes quitting is the best choice…I know I felt my load lighten once I abandoned those challenges I either couldn’t finish or didn’t want to. Hope you get back to 100% very soon!

  4. Sometimes I wish I could quit challenges, but i don’t seem to have that ability. I have to finish them, and always find a way to do so. Even if it kills me to do it. I’m trying to be very careful about which challenges I join next year because of that. No more joining becuase of fun lists or pretty buttons…I went way overboard last year.

  5. Don’t beat yourself up over it – challenges are just for fun! I think I only have one that ends December 31 and I’ve actually completed it (this is a first for me).

  6. I’m new to this book blogging thing, and I have to admit that I’m a little afraid of challenges because I’m worried that I’ll feel bad if I can’t finish them. It seems rather daunting!

    I’m interesting in hearing which Collins biography you like the best, because all of these wonderful blog discussions about him have really got me curious in his life as well as her work!

  7. I’m descended from a Scottish clan (the MacNeils of Barra) whose motto is “Victory or Death.” Which was kind of hilarious when I had a Scottish pen friend at one point whose clan’s motto was something like “Peaceful Unity for All.” I felt like quite the hawk. 🙂

    I hope you feel all the way better soon, and that you’re guilt-free about quitting the challenges you don’t want to finish. I mean, you didn’t know at the beginning of the year that you were going to start the Classics Circuit, so I think that lets you off the hook if there was any doubt! 🙂

  8. Hi all, I am feeling a lot better tonight! Thanks for the well wishing.

    Jackie, I was only doing the 9 for 09 challenge — not the 999 challenge: only 9 books TOTAL were required, and I only read three and a half. oops. I had good intentions.

    Colleen, well, obviously, I’ve not been completing them very well! I have found them fun for the list making and attempting to put order in the TBR is always nice!!

    Lezlie, thanks!

    Suzanne, I think that’s the thing about the books I have before me — I want to read them but just not right now. So I’ll read what I want to read and get to them later!

    I first found challenges by reading other’s blogs — they would be mentioned. But there is also a blog Novel Challenges that gathers them and lists them in one place. That said, as much as I love having a group to read with, it was nice back when I didn’t have any and therefore didn’t feel pressure as I have these past few weeks!

    Book Psmith, wow, that’s an amazing success rate! I’m impressed. I’m wanting to keep my December open too, which is part of the reason for the quitting.

    Amanda, I, apparently, have no problem quitting! (although it makes me sad because it’s admitting I just don’t have enough time to read everything!!). I do think I joined some thing year just because they were creative and fun sounding. But I need to be more discerning, as you say!

    Kathy, congrats on finishing your challenge! Impressive. I’m trying to just move on from here!

    Maire, Well, Im a perfectionist and here I am saying “I don’t care anymore” so it’s possible! No need to be afraid — just give yourself a challenge and try your best!

    I am enjoying the Collins biography I’m reading now, the first wasn’t as satisfying.

    Emily, Lol! That is a great motto. Yes, I didn’t know about Classics Circuit or my new classics book club at the library, or a number of other things — but no matter, I’m not feeling TOO guilty! I’m still reading a lot more than last year!

  9. I think it’s good to be able to quite challenges! Especially when they’re not working for you! I hope you review those Harlem Renaissance books you’ve been reading. 😉

  10. Vasilly, I can’t do that! But I’m getting through it a little bit more every day!

    Eva, all these challenges (particularly the World Citizen challenge) are ones I love! I just signed up for too many and ran out of time. I plan on finishing some more World Citizen books next year — just not under the guise of a challenge, I guess 🙂

    I’m hoping I get into the Harlem Renaissance books soon! I want to, but well, lots to read, as always

  11. I am so sorry to hear that you were ill. A couple of weeks ago my daughter was ill, then I got sick and it was misery. And my daughter knew I was week and kept asking me to do things that she knew I would never let her do if I was well (like watch Dragon Tales all day long!)

    I would say my family is the non-quitter variety, but deep down inside, I’m a bit of a quitter when it comes to small things (like that craft project that is just not working out), but not when it comes to big things (like my job).

  12. I hope you feel better soon. As to reading challenges, I didn’t join any this year so I can explore my interests and authors whom I have always wanted to read.

  13. Tracie, I think every one is getting sick this year! I guess I’m considering the challenges a little thing, but it was hard to just say “I’m letting go!”

    Matthew, that’s what I want to do in the coming year! but challenges are so tempting, so we’ll see…

  14. Don’t feel bad about quitting challenges! They are there to make things fun, or interesting, or informative, not to make you stress or feel like a quitter. I know i won’t finish the 9 for 09 either.

    As for Guns, Germs, and Steel by Diamond, if you go back to it i hope you enjoy it. I really like how he writes and the book is really informative.

  15. I definitely hear you. I am quite a challenge junkie and as a newbie in 2009 with challenges, I joined some that I should have known I wouldn’t finish (like LT’s 999 challenge- yikes!). I am still challenged at turning down challenges but this year I am making an effort to choose ones that stretch me in zones I am already in (as oppose to jumping into an entirely different zone for every challenge) as well as overlapping as much as possible. I am still not likely to finish all of the challenges I am planning on participating in, but Michelle (Galleysmith) reminded me that if I read books that I may not have read before and got something out of it, then it was worth it. So even though you don’t finish the challenge per se, you can still have been challenged.

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