Reading Journal (20 January): Distracted

Now, I know this isn’t a family blog or a mommy blog. I try to keep my personal life out of it to some extent and instead focus on the books I have been reading. But I’m very excited, so I have to share: My son has sat on the toilet three times successfully already today, he’s wearing his first pair of underwear, he’s been dry for three hours (since we put it on), and I’m thinking he really is more ready for toilet training than I’ve been thinking! I really wasn’t going to start today (I was thinking “March”), but he’s acting all excited about the underwear, so here we are. Maybe the fact that he’s been toilet training his doll for the last few weeks should have been a sign. (I kid you not: the doll is very good at using the toilet.) Of course, I’m expecting there will be many accidents, but this sure is a good start, I think.

Beyond that, I’ve been busy the last few days, so I haven’t read a lot. Last week, I finished my reread of Cather’s Archbishop for prep for my book club. I reread Herland for Women Unbound and I have so much to say I just have to find time to write a proper post of that slim little volume with lots of issues in it. And although it wasn’t a favorite, Sunday afternoon I really enjoyed reading Toni Morrison’s Jazz, given the setting is one I’ve been learning about (the Harlem Renaissance).

In terms of the Classics Circuit, the schedule for the February Harlem Renaissance Tour has been posted (I cannot express how excited I am about this!) and sign up is open for the Georgette Heyer March tour.

Beyond that, my son and I have read 75 books together already (since December 12, 2009). This was the easy portion of my 1000 Books Project because it’s the books he already owns. Now it’s going to be harder as I find new books from the library every week that he wants to read. I look forward to sharing some of those favorites with you!

In the coming week, I want to finish my read of Sir Gawain. It really is a one-sitting read, so the fact that I have only read 60 pages should tell you I just started too late at night and fell asleep. I am enjoying it very much! I also started The Housekeeper and the Professor, which will be fast. Other than that, there are a number of books due at the library in the next week that I can’t renew, so I don’t know which to read first, next, and last. I may just have to pay overdue fines. At 5 cents a day, I think it would be okay in the long run.

Finished Books

  • Death Comes for the Archbishop by Willa Cather (300 pages; fiction). A reread.
  • Herland by Charlotte Perkins Gilman (124 pages; fiction).
  • Jazz by Toni Morrison. (230 pages; fiction).

Abandoned/Returned Books

  • The collected poems of Langston Hughes. I’ve read some of Hughes’ poetry. I enjoy it! I’m just not going to read this complete volume.

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 (100 read of 455 pages; nonfiction).
  • History of the English-Speaking People by Winston Churchill, abridged by Henry Steele Commager (240 read of 415; nonfiction). My Project Book.

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 (60 read of 200, but half of that is the original Middle English; fiction/really old classic). For the Really Old Classics Challenge.
  • Golden Slippers, an anthology of Negro poetry for young readers. Next up for poetry, a collection of Harlem Renaissance poetry.
  • The housekeeper and the professor by Yoko Ogawa (40 read of 190 pages; fiction). For the Japanese Literature Challenge 3 and the Japanese Literature Book Group.
  • To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf. For Woolf in Winter.
  • Moses, man of the mountain by Zora Neale Hurston.
  • Black no more : a novel by George S. Schuyler. For the February Classics Circuit.
  • Inventing English : a portable history of the language by Seth Lerer.
  • The picture of Dorian Gray (Norton Critical Edition) by Oscar Wilde. For my book club.

New Library Loot

  • 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.
  • East of Eden by John Steinbeck. For the Classics Reads Book Group. I haven’t started, so I’ll be a bit behind the others.
  • 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.
  • Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen. My Valentine’s Day read; I’ve never read it.
  • All Creatures Great and Small by James Herriot. For an in-real-life book club. Since I’m dreading reading this, I probably won’t go this month.


  • The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster. Aarti mentioned this. I remember loving the movie as a kid. Sounds like the book has lots of fun word play.
  • Reading in Bed: Personal Essays on the Glories of Reading edited by Steven Gilbar. Mentioned by Stefanie.
  • Half-Broke Horses by Jeanette Walls. Heather J. enjoyed this, although it wasn’t as good as The Glass Castle.
  • The Sorrows of Young Werther by Goethe. Eva says this makes her excited to read more 18th century lit. Since I’m fairly remiss on 18th century lit myself, maybe I should find it.
  • Mad, Bad and Sad: A History of Women and the Mind Doctors from 1800 to the Present by Lisa Appignanesi. Raych at Books I Done Read has some good things to say about this.

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. Congrats for your son! How exciting and cute that he wants to! Potty-training is a milestone so I say go with it, as I know you are, when it comes your way. I’m not even close yet with my own son. We’ll get there eventually.
    Congrats to you reading 75 books to him as well! It’s a neat goal to have with him. I do enjoy reading to my children!
    As always, I appreciate hearing about what you are reading and what projects, reading related or not, that you are up to as well. Keep having fun! You’re doing a great job!

  2. Rebecca, I’ve had the same problem as you lately with having too much to do to carve out sufficient reading time. I’m lucky if I get 30 pages read in one go, which really won’t cut it in the long run! So, I definitely sympathize.

    But you must be over the moon about your son’s achievements Clearly a big day!

  3. Congrats! I remember potty training being a big deal when my girl was little. It’s stressful and exciting. (And I couldn’t wait to get rid of those diapers!)

  4. Congratulations on your son’s and your success. Being sensitive enough to know when the time is right, not pressuring, acknowledging that he is a “big” boy, and praising his efforts/successes is a great recipe for success.
    As for your book goal with him, I would not be concerned about running short of new titles, young children love repetition of their favorites.

  5. After my last comment (and an earlier one on children’s literacy), I got to thinking about an interesting site ( I came across on I am not connected with the site, but I have been in contact with the organization and subscribe to their free newsletter. It is a nationwide organization that enlists volunteers to read to students from low-income homes. If anyone is interested, check out the site. The program has been embraced by Congress and the President.
    We have been discussing the value of reading to our children. This just extends who we see as “our children”.

  6. Your son starting to use the “potty chair” is a huge event and should be shouted at the rooftops 🙂 I can’t tell you how many potty stories I’ve told my childless co-workers about…but I continue to do such. It is an amazing success.

    The wonderful about your story (and about children) is that your son is teaching his doll to use the potty. I love seeing children teach; it shows that they have an understanding of empathy and it’s so beautiful to watch.

    Thanks for sharing your success story.

  7. Why aren’t you excited to read “All Creatures Great and Small?” You should come anyway.

    I’ve always said the hardest thing about parenting is potting training and driving with a teen. I didn’t like either one of them but it has to be done.

  8. Awww-good for your son! Having seen (and participated in) potty training my niece, I think you’re totally justified in having some bragging moments. 😀

    I find it adorable that you have a Valentine’s Day read! lol S&S is not one of my favourite Austens, but she’s so marvelous that even my least favourite are still wonderful. 😉

    And yay for so many of us reading Housekeeper & the Professor!

  9. Congratulations on the potty training! It does work best when they decide for themselves that they are ready, so that is a fantastic sign! I hope it continues to go well.

    I have been wanting to read The Housekeeper and the Professor for a while, so I hope that you enjoy it.

  10. Suzanne, well, it’s not QUITE success yet, but BEGINNING feels like a milestone. 🙂

    Christina, I have never tried an adaptation of a classic, so I’ll have to see what I think!

    Julie, in some respects, I think my son is more ready than I am. lol thanks for the encouragement.

    Steph, yes, 30 pages at a time is a good thing! I try to read at night for a long stretch but I keep falling asleep.

    Chris, diapers are a huge i$$ue too. so looking forward to moving on to lots of loads of laundry I guess!

    Gary, I see what you are saying about rereading favorites and we do! Many of those 75 books have been reread many time so we have them memorized now before I had to return them to the library. I’ll talk about this more next week when I discuss the books in detail but I do look forward to reading *different* books with him and so far I think it’s opening up the world with him — and we’re finding new favorites too!

    Jenny, thanks!

    Tracie, he’s very funny about his doll. He didn’t noticed he existed for the first six months and then suddenly dolly was toilet training. It is fun to watch. He rocks doll to sleep now.

    Tami, I am just not an animal person but I wouldn’t mind reading it. I just have so many other books due at the library next week. I may come to book club anyway but my son is not napping anymore so he’s ready for bed at 6:30 and the thought of him being cranky at someone else’s house is just depressing. We’ll see how Tuesday goes.

    Eva, others have mentioned that S&S is not a favorite, but I’ve never read it and I want to, so why not put it by the day of romance? LOL. I’m enjoying Housekeeper — and looking forward to a discussion.

    Jackie, I was inspired by your 4 day success story so that’s why we bought the underwear but oh my I wasn’t meaning to start this week! He just really wants to wear Cookie Monster and Thomas and Elmo. lol thank goodness for branded underwear.

  11. My wife and I like to read interactively with our grandchildren to make them think, and as a check to see if they are attending and understanding. By simply asking them “Why do think that happened?” What do you think she will do ?” “What do you think will happen next?” and similar questions, it can make reading even more exciting. We don’t do it all the time, and the types of questions depend on the age and ability of the child.
    You can also check understanding by asking questions like “What does the word______ mean? It amazes me what you will get in response to that question alone! A critical aspect of later independent reading ability is VOCABULARY!

  12. Stefanie, Herland was a reread for me too. Very interesting!

    Stephanie, I read East of Eden two years ago and LOVED it. I haven’t started yet but I am looking forward to ti.

    Gary, all your suggestions are ones I found in ABCs of Literacy, which absolutely loved and highly recommend! I’ve been discussing books in a similar way with my son.

  13. I remember potty training time. Read short stories so you can put them down as needed. ::grin:: I’ve been distracted in my reading too lately but I’m chalking it up to the time of year here.

  14. Unfortunately, I have not read any of the actual books you reviewed recently, but have read others on the topic by some of the authors you discussed. I enjoy your site, the reveiws, and the comments. I also follow the site on Google and Twitter. In essence, I am reading vocariously!
    Most of my reading is confined to psychology stuff (a great cure for insomnia, by the way) However, I will definitley be able to be a more enthusiastic contributor if you hit on a Nelson DeMille book!
    Best wishes for continued success with your site and developing a future blogger!

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