Reading Journal (16 Sep): What is Rebecca Reading?

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(For BBAW, we are to answer a question from the meme. I’m answering the “What are you reading? question. I can’t be brief. Sorry; this is as short as I get. So technically, this is just my regular reading journal. I’m not really doing anything specifically BBAW about it.)

  • For a few moments, it wasn’t certain that the boy would live, in which case the book I’d just begun would have been quite short. But once he took his first breath, Oliver Twist was named and therefore inaugurated into the cruel world of starvation and abuse. Yet, there is a hint of hope in the tone of Dickens’s novel that makes Oliver Twist more complicated than a simple, tragic story.
  • I was captured at first by the ominous “Velcome. Velcome to my home,” but then the story shifted away from Transylvania and to London and I’m not as enthralled. Nevertheless, how will the good guys get Dracula away from the pretty ladies of London? How many people will become undead before they can do so? The free audio narration is painful to listen to, but the story behind Dracula still has me riveted (and disgusted).
  • He threw himself on the ground and cried, big tears running down his snout. Wilbur hadn’t known that pigs were for eating! Never mind, friend Charlotte the spider will somehow save the day with her web, I’m sure. I’d hoped the farm animals would keep my son’s interest (after all, I enjoyed this book as a child), but instead he rips Charlotte’s Web out of my hands every morning after about two pages and says “play!” (Formerly, he’d play as I read to him.) Are my days of reading chapter books out loud finished for a few more years (after all, he’s only 23 months), or is this book just too boring for him, for some reason?
  • As I start each short section, I find myself humming the hymns. I love to sing, I love music, and reading the history of each church hymn is just what I’ve been looking forward! Much thanks to my mother-in-law for giving me a copy of Our Latter-day Hymns to enjoy at my leisure.
  • Christopher Robin Milne went by the name of Billy, so A.A. Milne didn’t feel he was invading his privacy by writing about him in the form of Winnie-the-Pooh. Nonetheless, C.R. Milne wasn’t crazy about being a celebrity at age 8. The Pooh Bedside Reader has lots of facts about the real story behind Milne’s characters, so this 100 Acre Woods fan is enjoying her browse through it.

Abandoned Books/Finished Reading

Each week, I mention the books I finish or abandon. I actually didn’t finish any books this week; I only abandoned a few!

  • Gulliver’s Travels: The Politics of Satire by Ronald Knowles (150 pages; nonfiction/literary criticism). Abandoned/returned unread. I decided not to read criticism for Gulliver’s Travels this time around.
  • Jonathan Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels: Modern Critical Interpretations edited by Harold Bloom (195 pages; nonfiction/literary criticism). Abandoned/returned unread. I decided not to read criticism for Gulliver’s Travels this time around.
  • Twentieth Century Interpretations of Gulliver’s Travels edited by Frank Brady (115 pages; nonfiction/literary criticism). Abandoned/returned unread. I decided not to read criticism for Gulliver’s Travels this time around.

Currently Reading

Each week, I list out my progress so I can see how my reading compares week to week. See notes above for those I’m actively in the middle of. Some of these are either dragging me down, and others I have not yet begun.

My Books

I’ve slowed down dramatically, and yet, I feel good about my progress this week.

  • Dracula by Bram Stoker ( audiobook, on 17 of 27 segments, about 16 hours total; fiction). For the RIP IV Challenge.
  • Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White (70 read of 190; children’s fiction). I am reading this aloud to my son at a very slow rate.
  • Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens (270 read of 450 pages; fiction). For the book club I’m hosting at the library.
  • The Stories of John Cheever (20 of 61 stories, 820 pages total; fiction/short stories). Part of my Pulitzer Challenge. On hold for the next week. I am not feeling very motivated to pick this up again.
  • Our Latter-day Hymns: The Stories and Their Messages by Karen Lynn Davidson (35 read of 350/455 pages; nonfiction). I’m reading the story of a few hymns every day.
  • Children’s Literature: A Reader’s History from Aesop to Harry Potter by Seth Lerer (172 read of 330 pages; nonfiction). I started reading this book months ago and I got side-tracked to other reading projects. I’m going to get this finished in the next few weeks and then continue my reading of the books he discusses.

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.

  • The Pooh Bedside Reader by A.R. Melrose (50 read of 160 pages; nonfiction/fiction). This has excerpts from books and poems, early criticism, and personal stories of Milne.

New Library Loot

  • Cranford by Elizabeth Gaskell. I’m going to read it after Oliver Twist for Heather J.’s October read-along. I’m a bit behind the group.
  • The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman (audio CD, 7 disks, about 7.5 hours total; children’s fiction). Jackie loved the audio version, narrated by Gaiman himself, so I had to go get it for my next audio book! I still have a ways to go in Dracula, however, so this is on hold for a few more days at least.
  • Baking Cakes in Kigali by Gaile Parkin. Ok, I don’t have this yet, but it’s waiting at the library for my pick up!! I’m excited to read it, since Amanda loved it.

Fantastic Finds

BBAW is well underway, and I’m enjoying all the posts. I’m finding a lot of new blogs. Also, check out my guest BBAW post on classics, and my new idea about a classics blog tour.


I realize I need to start cutting down my weekly TBR additions, but I have no idea how to do so. Considering I’m adding a dozen new blogs to my reader every day this week, I’m a feeling a bit overwhelmed.

  • Sister Carrie by Theodore Dreiser. Emily says it’s a “universalizing approach” to looking at “material conditions and social forces” much as The Good Earth, except this is about turn-of-the-century Chicago, not China.
  • Classical Chinese Poetry: An Anthology. Valerie shares my interest in poetry, and she’s finding some gems! This looks great.
  • Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury. Amanda liked it; I watched the movie last month, so of course now I want to read the book!
  • Ulyssess by James Joyce. Nihil Novum at 50 Books Project says “James Joyce himself once famously said that if Ulysses is not worth reading, life is not worth living. It’s easy to see why he’d make such a statement, since Ulysses tries, through the course of a single day, to capture every part of life.” I’m still intimidated, but it just sounds so ultimately rewarding.
  • Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez. Tuesday says “If this book makes sense to any of you, let me know ASAP. I say it left an impression on me, but I’m not entirely sure what kind of impression.”
  • A Slight Misunderstanding by Prosper Mérimée’s. Jenny at Shelf Love loved this, but I can’t find it anywhere! It doesn’t come out until November, so I’ll just have to wait a while.
  • The Quickening Maze by Adam Foulds. Teresa at Shelf Love enjoyed this Booker finalist.


I got some great books added to my list this week.

  • Say Anything: How Blogging Began, What It’s Becoming, and How it Matters by Scott Rosenberg Kim at Sophisticated Dorkiness
  • Sacred Walls by Gerald E. Hansen Jr. Recommended by Haiku Amy in a comment on my Mormon Architecture post.
  • Symbols in Stone by Matthew Brown.  Recommended by Haiku Amy in a comment on my Mormon Architecture post.
  • Archictecture by Marvin Trachtenberg. Recommended by @bookslover via Twitter.
  • Illustrated Dictionary of Architecture by Ernest Borden. Recommended by @bookslover via Twitter.
  • Hysteria Andrew Scull. Mentioned by Victorian Geek.

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Reviewed on September 16, 2009

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.

  • Hmm, maybe you should switch to READING Dracula instead of listening to it – I was surprised at how much I enjoyed it myself earlier this year.

    Also, Fizzy Thoughts and I are hosting a Dueling Monsters Read-A-Long in October. I’m doing Frankenstein on my blog and she’s doing Dracula on hers. If you are still working through it come October, you should join in!

  • I really need to read Cranford, or anything by Gaskell. I hear so much about how good she is.

    I actually liked An American Tragedy much more than Sister Carrie. I read both in 2001 and barely remember the latter, while the former made a distinct impression on me. Of course, An American Tragedy is much longer. I wouldn’t recommend listening to it on audio! it’s got some places where reading through quickly or skimming is appropriate. But the themes and the things Dreiser says in it are marvelous.

  • Yay for Cranford!! 😀 Although I can’t imagine doing a read-along w/ a book that short.

    I feel overwhelmed sometimes w/ my TBR list as well. But I think of it as ‘aspirational’ which makes me feel better!

  • DamnedConjuror, LOVED the musical (we had the video when I was kid) and I’m loving how Dickens’ characterizations are so *real*. I can see all the characters so clearly, even the ones who weren’t in the musical.

    Heather J., yes, reading Dracula probably would be better but I don’t have time right now. I think the main reason I’m not loving it (I am LIKING it) is because it’s such a copy of The Woman in White in style, except it’s not nearly as well written and engaging.

    What I really need is to clean my house. That’s when I listen to my audiobooks and get wrapped up in them.

    I just picked up Cranford and it is very short, so I’ll probably finish it this week — unless the Baking Cakes book wins out this week.

    Amanda, yeah, I don’t think I’d try Dreiser on audio!! Some books just don’t work. Thanks for your thoughts. Look forward to getting to them. I was attracted to Sister Carrie because it’s in Chicago 🙂

    Eva, I like the term “aspirational” that makes me feel better. I just keep adding 20 books a week (at least that I write down) and I never read more than 3 a week. Now, I’m pretty non-mathematical, but I can tell I’ll never catch up at that rate! LOL!

    Haiku Amy, Gaiman won an Audie for it! so it should be good!

  • Sister Carrie and Love in the Time of Cholera are two of my favorites from recent years. And I believe the Merimee book is available now at (I checked for myself when I saw Jenny’s review but decided to stick with my plan to read Carmen first.)

    And I hear you on the TBR list. That’s why I’ve started thinking of mine as a “Books to Remember” list. I have no definite plans to read those books; I just want to make sure they don’t fall completely off my radar.

  • “I’ve slowed down considerably…” yet you list like 5 books and you have a toddler???? You’re doing way better than me. I always thought I was a really fast and prolific reader until I started blogging. And I tried Charlotte’s Web with my son too but it didn’t stick. I don’t think their attention spans are that good yet … and “the play is the thing.”

  • Teresa, you KNOW it’s you telling me the book is at bookdepository that got me to set up a wishlist there? How dare you?! (LOL) Actually, it looks like A Slight Misunderstanding is still “on order” there too. But it’s OK because I have plenty to read between now and then.

    I like that title of “books to remember.”

    Jenners, well, all those books are my “in progress” books. I didn’t finish a thing this week, but I’m pretty good at reading a lot at once! I’ve been successful at reading to my son before, but I guess he’s getting to a definite play stage. He still likes picture books all the time, though.

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