Starting Again

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My self-imposed blogging vacation was only about a week old before I started thinking of starting up again. But I told myself I needed to enforce that blogging break, and therefore wouldn’t “allow” myself to blog again until September.  I instead spent time redesigning the site and pondering just what I want to be doing on this reading blog.

I’ve decided I’m going to start over again. My involvement will probably be far less than it was before and I reserve the right to just stop blogging or omit blogging for a week or two here or there if I’m too tired of it, if life is busy, or if I otherwise just feel like it. This is once again for me, and not for others, although I’ll try to be a part of something.

As I mentioned, I redesigned the site. I changed my tagline too.It used to be:

Thoughts about fiction, nonfiction, and childrenโ€™s books, new and old

And I’ve changed it to:

Thoughts on reading & rereading classic fiction, nonfiction, & childrenโ€™s books, old & new

The emphasis now is on classics before anything else. The emphasis is on old works before the new ones. The emphasis is on reading and rereading, of which I’m a big fan. I hope that my responses to classic literature on this site will be more thematic and overarching, rather than plot summaries and impressions. I hope to be less review-like and more reflective. I hope to have a greater variety of posts: some posts brief thoughts on a book I recommend, others longer essays on themes between two or three books I’ve finished.

As part of my site redesign, my menus above reflect the past (review archives), present (current reading lists, updated via Shelfari), and future (reading lists) of Rebecca Reads. I’m going to try to keep my sidebars clean of too many “buttons” and images. I’m not planning on joining any “challenges” and I’m officially dropping all I had signed up for, although I may have a personal project that I adopt that reflects a challenge. I still intend to tell you about challenges and projects that deserve your attention. The Classics Circuit is still on vacation. I need to wrap my mind around that a bit more.

Here I am in September and in actuality, I could just not blog at all. It’s not a pressing need in my life, which is quite a relief. It’s nice to not have to worry about it. However, I really do want to share my thoughts on what I’m reading. More than 85% of my blog hits are people coming from search engines, so there are readers out there even if I’m a less active part of the “community.” Besides that though, I do want to comment on your blogs about what you’re reading. I like the interaction, as long as it doesn’t become an obligation for any of us.

What have I been reading? I have been working on my Victorian summer, and I think I may make it a Victorian year, I love it so much. I finished three Victorian novels by women, including Anne Bronte’s Agnes Grey, Elizabeth Gaskell’s Wives and Daughters, and George Eliot’s Middlemarch. All of them are interesting and enjoyable for different reasons. I’m also currently reading Great Expectations and my first Anthony Trollope, Can You Forgive Her?.

I went through a YA/children’s book phase where I read a few novels by Shannon Hale, one by Kate DiCamillo, a Roald Dahl classic, and the second novel of Westerfeld’s Uglies series. And I read three full-length novels aloud to my toddler: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe; Winnie-the-Pooh; and Peter Pan. Although he liked the stories (I would summarize the action before and after we read our pages), I think we need a break from dense and long novels! He certainly loves the picture books we’re reading, and he enjoyed the two summer reading programs we joined.

Since my recent classics book club read was Mark Twain’s Huckleberry Finn, I went through a Twain week where I also reread Tom Sawyer and read for the first time Pudd’nhead Wilson. I really enjoy Twain, and look forward to sharing some thoughts on those. I reread The Stranger by Albert Camus and enjoyed it far more the second time (and after our club discussion). I also picked up two other novellas: one by Gabriel Garcia Marquez (Chronicle of a Death Foretold) and one by Banana Yoshimoto (Kitchen). Neither of those novellas was a favorite, but I did love Garcia Marquez’s One Hundred Years of Solitude a few years ago, so maybe a reread of that is in order to satisfy my magical realism craving.

And that is how the future will go: I’ll read whatever I feel like reading next, of course with my two book club schedules in mind. I’ll write thoughts about said books and/or write posts about reading in general whenever I feel like it. I’ll post when I feel like it, and not post about books I don’t want to talk about anymore. I’ll read other book blogs most weeks, and I’ll comment when I have something to add to your conversation (which is not all the time).

So anyway, I’m trying again. I’ll only post, read blogs, and respond to comments on my schedule, such as right now when my toddler is happy by himself. He also starts preschool next Tuesday morning. I can’t tell you how excited I am for that. Maybe that will let me have time to have a place in the blogging world.

I anticipate that the future of Rebecca Reads will be a bit different, but hopefully it will still be a satisfying hobby for me and a satisfying place to visit now and again for you, my fellow readers.

Reviewed on September 2, 2010

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.

  • Good to have you back again, Rebecca. ๐Ÿ™‚

    I am…changing as well. I read so many books this summer, just trying to clear off my shelves, and I really miss the way I used to read before I began blogging, or even in my first year of blogging when I was still at 5-Squared. I still have two weeks of reviews already drafted and I really don’t want to read another book at all until I’m caught up. I hate feeling so behind. This is something I’ve been thinking about a lot lately and I am really looking forward to going back to old habits, reading a lot more classics and rereading a lot more in general. I’ve worried too much about schedules and organization and a whole bunch, and I’m tired of it. I’ve thought about going on a month-long break as well. Sigh.

    • Amanda, I think the only way is just to walk away — it’s hard but it feels good. I’m also going to be merging “reviews” together, i.e., having more than one book discussed in each post. I think that will help make it take less time!

  • Nice to see you back, Rebecca! My summer reading has been good, and we actually have a title overlapping – Agnes Grey! I just posted my thoughts on it a few days ago, and would love to hear what your experiences were like. Was this your first Anne Bronte?

    I also have Can You Forgive Her? on my ereader, though its length has been daunting me. I do want to try Trollope at some point – I really think I’ll love him once I give him the chance. Ever since getting an ereader I’ve become reinvested in reading the classics, which has been a lot of fun!

    Thanks for letting us know what you’ve been up to, and I look forward to reading your blog whenever the urge to update it strikes your fancy!

    • Steph, yes, Agnes Grey was my first Anne Bronte, quite short so I’m sorry to say it didn’t stick with me as much as, say, Middlemarch which took months. Also caused me to roll my eyes a few times (not a long-term favorite, I should say) but I enjoyed it. I’ll have to go find your thoughts.

      I’m only about 15% into the Trollope and not feeling it either way — not love, not hate. It was the same with Middlemarch at that point, however, and that was a favorite in the end, so not sure which way it will go!

  • Welcome back, lady! I thought perhaps you might be popping back up here based on seeing you around Twitter a bit. Love your clean new look, and fully support what you’re planning as far as your approach going forward. It makes me sad that blogging becomes a burden for so many folks – it should be fun, not an obligation! ๐Ÿ™‚

  • That sounds like a good plan. I’ve just decided that I’m not reading for myself as much at the moment so that is my goal this month, to read books I found at random. You can only keep blogging happily if you’re doing things your way. I look forward to reading your essays on the classics!

  • It’s so nice to hear from you again, Rebecca. I LOVE the sound of your new approach and might have to try something similar myself soon – I’m about to go on a month-long blogging break due to moving away to start library school, and I know things will have to change once I come back if I don’t want to burn myself out. So yeah, I quite like the sound of what you’re going to try. Also, I hope you’ll share your thoughts on Middlemarch at some point – I really loved it and would love to hear what you think!

  • I’m delighted to see you back, and your new direction makes a lot of sense to me! These days, I’m less likely to get fretted about my blog itself and more about keeping up with the blogging world by following and commenting and all that. I’m pondering how to stay focused in that area, and I imagine it will mean following fewer blogs and worrying less about what I’m missing. Your blog will be one I’ll always want to follow, though ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Hooray! I’m very glad to have you back. It’s funny how blogging can become so addictive. But I also understand the need to cut back and not have it be so obligatory. I’ll be checking in no matter how many times you post or how many breaks you take. ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Honestly, I laughed and laughed when you said you rolled your eyes a few times at AGnes Grey. I really didn’t like it, which was dissapointing, because I’m such a Bronte fan (her other book, Tenant of Wildfell Hall, is wonderful, though). It’s like she hadn’t quite learned how to tell a story instead of rubbing your nose in her point, yet. And, she just… doesn’t always feel like a very nice person in the book :D.

  • Wonderful to have you back! I’m glad you’ve thought of ways to make blogging work for you, and I know I’ll enjoy reading your posts. Sounds like you’ve had a great reading time while you’ve been away! ๐Ÿ™‚

  • I am so glad you’re back! I missed your posts.

    It can be hard sometimes to keep blogging as a fun hobby and not an obligation, so sometimes it is necessary to take a break. Because really, if I didn’t have fun blogging, I would not do it!

  • Hi Rebecca! I’m so glad to see you’re back! When I think of classic books, you’re the first blogger who comes to mind, and I really felt your absence these last few weeks. As others have said, I think your new blogging plans sound great — just do what you want to do, and what your schedule and energy level will allow, and your readers will understand. I’d rather see fewer posts from a happier Rebecca than see the book blogging world lose you altogether. Thank you for changing your mind! ๐Ÿ˜€

  • Glad to see you’re back! We’ve missed you. Sounds like you read some great stuff — I’m amazed at how many books you read. When I read Middlemarch, that’s pretty much the only book I was reading that month — you got so many others finished as well! Very impressive.

  • I’m glad you’re back, Rebecca! I too have taken a step back from book blogs, both reading and writing, but your blog is one I’d love to be able to come back to. Just don’t burn yourself out again!

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