Reading Journal (13 January): Exhausted

I’ve been intending to review books in the morning, before my son awakes. I’d have to wake up at 5 to have time to do so. But so far this is not working very well. Since he has not been napping anymore, the evening and afternoon are often just plain exhausting (think: CRANKY boy). I have been sleeping in. Then I’ve been doing Classics Circuit stuff. That’s why there have not been writing posts this week.

As a result, I feel rather behind on blog writing. I did get about 10 hours of Bloggiesta-ing over the weekend, but that barely put a dent in all that I “need” to do. And chances are, the coming week will find me reading, not writing reviews for the blog. And I think that’s okay. It’s all about balance, right? And this exhausted feeling is somewhat mitigated by a good book.

This week I finished Sei Shonagon’s Pillow Book. No, it’s not what it sounds like: it’s a diary or writing notebook kept by a lady-in-waiting in the year 1000 in Japan. And it is fascinating. I hope I’ll find time to review it this week. She truly was a blogger born 1000 years too early and I enjoyed her attitudes.

I also got through Mrs. Dalloway. I know I mentioned struggling last week, but I started over again, giving myself at least two hours every time I sat down with it. I read the first 20 pages out loud, very slowly (I read aloud at least half as slowly as I read in my mind) and then I got the rhythm. I loved it: I feel like I should reread it by Friday so I can write a proper post. Alas, I suspect my post will not be satisfying to me. There is so much meat in that book, I think I missed most of it.

And then I started rereading Death Comes for the Archbishop. My book group meets next week and I feel I need to be better prepared by knowing the book better. Two of my friends aren’t coming to the book group – they either are busy or couldn’t get through the books – so if it’s a small group, I really need lots of questions for potential discussion. I’m hoping it goes well: I think there is a lot to discuss in the book, I just have to figure out the best things to focus on. I enjoy the book, so I hope the others were able to enjoy it as well!

Finished Books

  • Poetry for Young People: Langston Hughes edited by David Roessel and David Roessel and Arnold Rampersad (50 pages; poetry). I love this series!
  • The Swiss Family Robinson by Johann David Wyss (57 chapters, about 12 hours audio or 400 pages, partially via Librivox audio/partially via Project Gutenberg; children’s fiction).
  • The Pillow Book by Sei Shonagon (380 pages; fiction/really old classic).
  • Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf (195 pages; fiction).

Abandoned Books

None this week!

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.

  • Our Latter-day Hymns: The Stories and Their Messages by Karen Lynn Davidson (100 read of 455 pages; nonfiction). OK, I need to give myself a weekly goal on this one. I enjoy it but it’s easy to forget until Wednesday morning.
  • History of the English-Speaking People by Winston Churchill, abridged by Henry Steele Commager (185 read of 415; nonfiction). My Project Book. I’m making good progress, and I’m getting excited to read Shakespeare’s plays about these kings.
  • Herland by Charlotte Perkins Gilman (65 read of 120; fiction). I just started this because I saw it on my shelf. I already have so much going, but this is a fast read!

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.

  • Sir Gawain and the Green Knight: A New Verse Translation trans. Simon Armitage. I haven’t begun yet. It will happen this week! I wanted to finish Mrs. Dalloway first.
  • The collected poems of Langston Hughes
  • Jazz by Toni Morrison. (55 read of 220 pages; fiction). Not loving it as much as Beloved; hence, the lack of much progress. I just need to sit and read it, because it’s an interesting setting and premise.
  • Golden Slippers, an anthology of Negro poetry for young readers. Next up for poetry.
  • To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf. Maybe I’ll start next week. I need a Woolf break.
  • Death Comes for the Archbishop by Willa Cather (150 read of 300; fiction). I’m rereading it.

New Library Loot

  • The housekeeper and the professor by Yoko Ogawa
  • Moses, man of the mountain by Zora Neale Hurston
  • Black no more : a novel by George S. Schuyler
  • Inventing English : a portable history of the language by Seth Lerer
  • The picture of Dorian Gray (Norton Critical Edition) by Oscar Wilde


  • Cold by Bill Streever. Nymeth makes this book about weather sound fascinating!
  • Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke. Jenny’s is not the first review of this that caught my eye, but it’s a great review so I thought I’d mention it.
  • The Winter of Our Discontent by John Steinbeck. Karen says this is the best Steinbeck out there.
  • The Glass Room by Simon Mawer. Literate Housewife has a glowing review of this and it just sounds so good!

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 Glass Room is so good! It was one of my favourites of 2009.

    I’m looking forward to your review of The Pillow Book as I have that lined up to read soon; I also picked up a copy of The Housekeeper and the Professor from the library.

    Mrs Dalloway was my first Woolf novel for Uni ten years ago (eek – I’ve just realised it’s been a decade) and I didn’t “get” it on the first read but loved it on the second; it also helped me to read The Hours by Michael Cunningham. I’ve read several of her novels since but To the Lighthouse remained unread; I shall be reading it next week too and I am very much looking forward to it.

  2. Ooh, Oscar Wilde AND the Housekeeper and the Professor? What a great set of reading you’ve got in store. 😀

    Like I was saying on twitter, I’m sorry you’re son’s not napping. All three of my kids went through that and it took a couple months to get them to nap easily again but it was worth the struggle for me (and for them, though they may not have appreciated it at the time).

  3. Congrats on making it through Mrs. Dalloway! Given how tiring your schedule has been lately, that’s a real accomplishment. I am probably going to finish up a book today after which I will likely start To The Lighthouse for the next segment of Woolf in Winter. Do you think, given how much you enjoyed Mrs. D, that you might participate in the rest of the read-along?

  4. Oh, The Picture of Dorian Gray is one of my favorite books! I might have to follow your lead with Mrs. Dalloway because I just can’t seem to get over the first 20-page hump.

    I’m sorry your son isn’t napping; just one afternoon babysitting a child who isn’t napping is enough to make me want to tear my hair out. So don’t worry about getting your posts written and posted.

  5. Eek to your exhaustion from your son! Of course, I love it when you post frequently, but I totally understand when you need to take time off. And if I had to choose, I’d take reading over blogging any day! 😉

    You’ve convinced me that I should own a copy of The Pillow Book so that I can read it at a more leisurely, blog-y pace. And I was SO happy to find that you loved Mrs. Dalloway! I just started rereading it this morning, and I’m falling in love with it all over again. I have no clue how I’m going to write about it, though!

    I had to read Death Comes for the Archbishop in high school and found it incredibly painful, but lately I’ve been thinking that I really shouldn’t keep judging Willa Cather by my 16-year-old self. Especially when I didn’t love any of my assigned school reading, with teachers making sure I sucked it dry of all possible symbolism/discussion/etc.

    Your library loot looks like fun this week, although I found Dorian Gray a disappointment compared to Wilde’s marvelous plays and fairy tales!

  6. Yay, I’m so happy you ended up liking Mrs. Dalloway! Starting out by reading it out loud is a brilliant idea. And wow, it sounds like your son is going through a challenging sleep transition right now – I hope that doesn’t last much longer!

  7. I think there must be some sort of rule about Woolf books where you always want to reread them as soon as you finish the book. I think it’s because it takes so long to get into the rhythm in the first place! I’m so glad you enjoyed it.

  8. Care, I’m having a hard time figuring out how to focus my thoughts on Mrs Dalloway! LOL wish I had time to reread it.

    Claire, I keep hearing good things about The Glass Room! And yes, Pillow Book is just great. Mrs Dalloway is one I think I should reread every year or something. So much in there I missed!

    Amanda, Picture of Dorian Gray is for my book club! And both of those two books are short so I’m glad you say they are so great! As for the no napping, I’m just going to deal with it, as I’m glad he’s begun sleeping for 12-13 hours at night. THAT makes the no naps okay for me because I know he’ll go down at 7 p.m.! I get so tired.

    Steph, YES, I think I’ll do the rest of the read-along. I think it’s nice to have a slow THINKING book in the midst of the others. I’m glad Mrs Dalloway was a good experience for that reason.

    Stefanie, So much to think about with Mrs Dalloway. I did enjoy it very much in the end!

    Heather J, I’m just waiting for the weather to get warmer so I won’t shiver as I read that book!!

    Christina, Glad to hear another such positive comment about Picture of Dorian Gray. I’m looking forward to it. And yes, we’ll survive this new stage of my son’s childhood, just taking me some getting used to!

    Eva, I just posted about Archbishop this morning. I found it profoundly powerful. I can imagine high schoolers struggling to appreciate it though. It’s a slow thoughtful book. YES read the Pillow Book like blogs. A little every day. It’s so delightful. And I didn’t know Wilde wrote fairy tales! I’ve read some plays and found them fun. I too have no idea how I’m going to write about Mrs Dalloway

    Emily, I struggle to be patient with reading aloud but it worked well for this book! I just needed to sit down and focus as I read and then it was a delight! And I’ll survive this new stage with my son. Just got me exhausted this week.

    Marie, I did want to reread it: good to know we all do now, huh! And by the end I just loved the rhythm of it all.

    Garay Brannigan, I think the secret is just focus — but I can really see it’s not a book for everyone. It’s a subtle book but oh my how I liked it in the end!

  9. I’m very much intimidated by Virginia Woolf, but it’s nice to know that some persistence and deliberation pays off with her books. Can’t wait to read your review!

  10. Although our situations are different, I’ve not had much time at all for my blog for the past month. Work is hectic, leaving little break time to write and there’s a lot going on with the girls. I used to do a lot of blogging at night, but I’ve been so tired that I’m asleep between 10:30 and 11:30 now instead of 12 or 1. Like all phases, we’ll get back on track. It is all about balance. Right now my priorities are elsewhere.

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