I’ve been in rather a reading slump, partially because of the issues I mentioned previously, like my grandma’s passing. But also, I have been reading an enormous amount in the past three years, and it’s a pace that seems cannot be sustained.
On average, I have read about 14 books or around 3,500 pages a month for about two-and-a-half years. Some months have been much less, of course, but others have been more. The bottom line is that I’ve been avidly reading for quite some time. That’s a lot of reading for a stay-at-home Mom with a baby toddler preschooler.
I want to make sure it’s clear that I have neglected neither my son nor my husband in the past three years. My son, as a baby, slept very well for 15 or 16 hours in every 24, and then, gradually, the nap went away, and now he’s sleeping 11 or 12 hours a night. He wakes with the sun. That’s still a lot of break from mommy-hood, but it is far less time than it used to be, given his changing needs as he grows older. Also, for a good portion of the past few years, my husband has traveled for work, and thus has been away from home for three or four nights of every week. He’s since moved to a less travel-intensive job. When he’s home, I blog and read far less.
That justification is simply to preface my observation of the inevitable fact that life continues to get busier, and reading and blogging has subsided as a time priority. My break last August proved to me that I don’t want to stop blogging for good, but as I’ve said before, my blogging schedule will probably continue to be sporadic. I do love writing about my reading, and I love being a part of a community of fellow readers. I especially love promoting the classics, and the Classics Circuit really is lots of fun to work with (although that has slowed down as well).
What I’ve Been Reading
I have not been reading much lately. I finished War and Peace for my book group (it took two months), and I found myself very impatient with it. I read Persuasion for fun (it took one month), and found myself impatient with it. Then I read the Very Short Introduction to Aristotle over the course of three weeks, and I wasn’t impatient with it because it was only 140 pages, so the 50 pages a week didn’t do me in.
For this week’s Classics Circuit (beginning Wednesday!), I’ve got to read and finish Aristotle’s Poetics. It’s only 60 pages, but given the little reading I’ve done lately, I need to push myself if I’m going to finish in time. I’ve started reading a collection of Hans Christian Andersen stories (just for fun now and then), and I’ve picked up The Cranford Chronicles by Elizabeth Gaskell (which has the novel Cranford and two other novellas similar to it). My book group is reading Cranford for next month, but I thought I’d read the other stories as well this time. My other book group is reading Mere Christianity next month, and I look forward to revisiting it.
Despite my book buying ban (i.e., I’m to read only from my shelves in the next few weeks, no buying and no libraries), I did get two books for my birthday (I’m now 30 years old! Yeay!). My mother-in-law gave me a biography of President Thomas S. Monson (of the LDS church), and last week I happened to find an Oxford World Classics copy of Hardy’s Return of the Native at Goodwill for 89 cents, so I “splurged” on that. Neither is on my first quarter reading plans, but who knows? I may feel in the mood for one of those books. I’m trying to take things one day at a time. I’ll read what I feel like reading next, and I won’t force myself into anything.
Branding: Let’s Talk Classics
The fact is that I’m reading less and blogging less. Either because of that or despite of that (not sure which), I’m feeling the urge to better brand myself in the book blogosphere. After my August blogging break last year, I reissued my site with a more clean and simple look (with a new “logo” to be my gravatar). I also dropped my participation in challenges. I also added a more “classics” focused tag line. Previously, it had been, “Thoughts on fiction, nonfiction, and children’s literature, new and old.” In August 2010, I changed it to, “Thoughts on reading and rereading classic fiction, nonfiction, and children’s literature.” Wow, what a mouthful.
I’ve changed yet again, but not really. This week, I shortened my Rebecca Reads tag to, “Classics, nonfiction, and children’s literature.” Further, I’ve cleaned up my main landing page at www.rebeccareid.com. My tag for my entire site is Let’s Talk Classics, because that’s really why I have a public blog: to discuss the classics I’m reading and rereading.
Let’s Talk Classics reminds me that I want to approach literature more holistically, not as plot points for a specific novel, but as a part of all the classic themes we’ve already read. Classic fiction, especially, seem to be full of familiar themes, and while plots are important and fun, they often don’t matter as much to me in my reading reactions as the writing or the characters or the details of the plots. Reading a classic is an experience, even if one knows what will happen, as is often the case thanks to Masterpiece Theater or Hollywood productions based on the classics. And although I don’t really believe in spoilers, I will try to avoid plot details that could disappoint the rest of you, or at least I’ll give a warning at the beginning of a post!
Let’s Talk Classics seems to me to refocus my goal of the site. My goal is to start a conversation and be a part of classics conversation. I want to hear from you, whether you’ve read and loved the books I’m mentioning or whether you read and hated them or whether you never plan to read them or whether you want to read them and have yet to. If you haven’t read War and Peace, for example, you may still be able to comment on my reaction to reading it. I haven’t always done well at writing in this way, but it is my goal: that we can relate to literature as a whole and enjoy doing so as a community. If I’m only going to have a few posts a month (or one a week), then I hope to make it a thoughtful one.
My main website links to both Rebecca Reads and The Classics Circuit, which are my two main projects. I’ve also been tinkering with my photo blog, Focus. I’m in the progress of transferring my photos from my old photo blog to that one. (A few years ago I set up a pixelpost photoblog, but pixelpost software has not been updated for years–literally—so I’m transferring all to WordPress. No, there is no an easy transfer. I’m adding in each post individually.) I don’t take many photographs, but maybe having a clean and new photo blog will prompt me to do so more often!
I also want to add that I have been invited to attend the Book Blogger’s Conference to talk about blogging about classics! (Maybe that’s what’s prompted this second rebranding?) So I will be in New York City in May to attend BEA and the Book Blogger’s Conference. Although I wish I had as much time to read and blog as I did even just a year ago, I’m still glad I can be a part of this wonderful community, and I’m excited to meet some of you.
Will you be there in May? I can’t wait to meet you!
Do you think about “branding” yourself in the book blogosphere? Why or why not? I never thought about it until I started thinking about my desire to refocus my reading on classics.