Classics Club Spin # 20!

It’s time again for another Classics Club Spin. I am so grateful for these Spins or else I really would take ten years to complete my list instead of five. Here are the rules:

At your blog, before next Monday 22nd April 2019, create a post that lists twenty books of your choice that remain “to be read” on your Classics Club list.

This is your Spin List.

On Monday 22nd April, we’ll post a number from 1 through 20. The challenge is to read whatever book falls under that number on your Spin List by 31st May, 2019.

This is perfect timing for me because I will be DONE WITH THE COUNT OF MONTE CRISTO soon! (Maybe even tonight.) Woo-hoo!

Here is my Spin List (in alphabetical order by author:)

  1. Fahrenheit 451 – Bradbury
  2. The Tenant of Wildfell Hall – Bronte
  3. The Master and Margarita – Bulgakov
  4. The Woman in White – Collins
  5. A Study in Scarlet – Conan Doyle
  6. Great Expectations – Dickens
  7. Love Medicine – Erdrich
  8. Howard’s End – Forster
  9. Cold Comfort Farm – Gibbons
  10. Nightingale Wood – Gibbons
  11. The Thin Man – Hammett
  12. Jonah’s Gourd Vine -Hurston
  13. Quicksand – Larsen
  14. The Blue Castle – Montgomery
  15. The Gowk Storm – Morrison
  16. Quartet in Autumn – Pym
  17. Ceremony – Silko
  18. The Warden – Trollope
  19. Brideshead Revisited – Waugh
  20. Stoner – Williams

We’ll see what number they draw on Monday.

Have you read any of these?

Advertisements

Outer Order, Inner Calm by Gretchen Rubin

“…it’s important to remember that outer order isn’t simply a matter of having less or having more; it’s a matter of wanting what we have.”

41RaMB9o7bL._SX360_BO1,204,203,200_If you’re someone who feels like you’ve got too much stuff and all that stuff weighs on your mind, then Gretchen Rubin’s new book Outer Order, Inner Calm is for you. If you enjoy Marie Kondo’s show on Netflix but you think that her system is too rigid, this is definitely a book you should check out. (Literally. Check it out from your library so you don’t add to your clutter! ) Its bite-sized bits of advice are logical and encouraging and just might give you the push you need to let some things go.

If I only take away one idea from Rubin’s book, it’s this one: If you don’t need it, love, it, or use it, you should probably get rid of it.

Simple, right? And for me, it works better than Kondo’s “spark joy” idea. Everybody’s different, and Rubin seems to get that.

img_3736Another favorite piece of advice: The Three Strikes and You’re Out Rule. If she’s thought about getting rid of something twice before, the third time she thinks it, she gets rid of it. I sometimes find myself holding on to things that people have given me as gifts, but they’re things I don’t really want. I just keep them out of guilt, I guess. Now I can use this idea to show myself that I really DON’T want that scented candle or whatever it is.

Another great tip: Make a Mock Move. Would you bother to wrap up this item in bubble wrap and stick it in a box and put it on a truck to take it to a new house? If not, out it goes.

This is a very approachable advice book for people who don’t want to dump every piece of clothing they own in a big pile on the bed and tackle clutter all at once. Rubin is logical but also recognizes that people need beautiful things and sentimental things in their lives. In fact, her last section is titled “Add Beauty.” I really enjoyed this book and found it very helpful. You can read a few tips at a time or read the whole thing straight through in no time at all. I bet it will inspire you to look at your belongings and habits with a new eye.

 

Light Bulb Moments (Bookish Edition)

Two things I’ve recently realized:

  1. I can’t put down The Count of Monte Cristo for any length of time and expect to pick it back up again with a good memory of what I’d read before. And…
  2. I’ve got to quit getting new books on hold at the library if I want to read all the books on my TBR list that I say I want to read.

So I’ve delved back into my gigantic Dumas classic, after letting it sit on my shelf for most of March. I’ve already made some good progress – I’m now at 70% complete! That Count is quite the master of disguises. I feel like Villefort is juuuusssttt about to figure it all out but he’s not quite there yet. It’s still a wonderful, entertaining read. I just have to maintain my momentum and not let it sit for too long. Then it becomes too easy to not pick it back up again.

Also, I’ve used the “vacation stop” function on my library holds and pushed them all back until next month so that I can focus on what I’ve got checked out now and what I’m reading from my own shelf. I was getting inundated with holds and could feel the others looming.

I was going through my Goodreads TBR list, which I do from time to time to assess whether or not I really want to still read these things. And I kept thinking, Oh I really want to read that! Why haven’t I read that yet? You know why? NEW BOOKS. Shiny new books that keep coming out every week and sound so amazing and I have to get on the holds list right now! Perhaps as my holds stop date gets closer I’ll extend it further. I really want to make a dent in my TBR list, which at the moment is 363 books.

What am I reading now?

 

My Sister the Serial Killer is SOOOO compelling. I just started Notes of a Native Son and so far it’s wonderful. It’s my choice for April’s Instagram #Unreadshelfproject2019. The prompt this month is to read the latest book you’ve acquired. I’ve only read three stories in the Gallant collection but I will finish it by the end of the month.

Have you had any bookish light bulb moments lately?

Reading Goals Update – March 2019

How’s it going, gang? I don’t know about you but I’m really ready for Spring. Yesterday we had a beautiful day, 70 degrees F and sunny. I was able to do a bit of weeding and soil amending in my garden, and I can’t wait to get out there and do some more on a regular basis. I’ve got way more seeds than I have actual room for plants, LOL. That’s the optimist in me I suppose. Anyway, it’s time to check in with my yearly reading goals.

mohammad-amiri-239522-unsplash
Photo by Mohammad Amiri on Unsplash
  1. Read from the New Books Shelf at work. Well, I tried a book in February that didn’t work for me (The Bookshop of Yesterdays by Amy Meyerson.) I read about 35 pages and wasn’t hooked. And I haven’t yet picked my choice for this month’s New Book Shelf read. So not much progress has been made since the last update.
  2. Read The Count of Monte Cristo. I’m on page 799, which is 55% finished, according to Goodreads! So quite a bit of progress.
  3. Read more poetry. I’m enjoying Kevin Young’s collection Jelly Roll. download (1)Really playful, earthy, musical, vibrant stuff. It’s been a long time since I’ve taken a poetry class, so I’m rusty in all the correct poetic terms to describe and analyze a poem. But in terms of pure emotion, this is stuff I can connect to. Also, I’ve found an awesome poetry podcast: The Slowdown by American Public Media. U.S. Poet Laureate Tracy K. Smith, who has a lovely voice, by the way, gives the listener a little emotional context for a poem, a personal story from her life, perhaps, and then reads it. It’s five minutes and a new one comes every week day. I highly recommend it if you’re wanting to explore poetry.
  4. Read My Own Darn Books. As part of Whitney’s Instagram #UnreadShelfProject2019, this month’s prompt is to read the book that has been on your shelf unread for the longest time. As my longest unread book is Anna Karenina and I’m already reading a monster classic at the moment, I decided to pick the book that’s been on my Goodreads TBR the longest: Lady Susan, The Watsons, Sanditon by Jane Austen. 51dmPYYOzjL._SX325_BO1,204,203,200_(It’s also on my Classics Club list.) I finished Lady Susan today and it’s wonderful – what a piece of work she is! Not only is this project making me choose at least one book from my own shelf every month, it’s making me look at my books with a more critical eye. I’m asking myself, Am I really going to read this? Am I still interested in this? And if the answer is no, it’s going to the Friends of the Library.

How are you coming along with your own yearly reading goals? Have you heard The Slowdown podcast? Are you desperate for consistent Spring weather like I am? Oh, I started a book for Cathy’s Reading Ireland Month today. It’s Donal Ryan’s The Spinning Heart. The first chapter was excellent so I have high hopes. I hope you are all well, my friends. I say this a lot, but I really do love this bookish community. Talk to you soon.

 

Count of Monte Cristo Check-In

I apologize for my absence here the past couple of weeks. We’ve all been sick at my house, the boys with the flu and I with a cold that turned into a sinus infection that has knocked me on my bottom. I’m just now starting to come out of it. Things have also been nutty at work and I’m in the midst of trying to hire a senior assistant. I haven’t had energy to write and not a lot of time to blog hop, but I have been reading! It’s time for another installment of my Count of Monte Cristo reader’s journal (covering pages 417-605.)

9780307271129Here’s what I want to say most about this book right now: Don’t be afraid of big books. For so long I put off reading this classic because its size intimidated me. I was afraid the style would be off-putting or too archaic. How wrong I was! Yes, there are sections that drag a little bit more than others, but on the whole, it’s a remarkably fresh, exciting, well-crafted story. Breaking it up and taking it slow has enabled me to enjoy this classic at my own pace while still reading other books.

Here are some plot highlights of this section (Chapters 34-45:)

  • Two young French men, Baron Franz d’Epinay and Viscount Albert de Morcerf, become acquainted with the Count in Rome. In fact, Dantès orchestrates a “kidnapping” of Albert just do he can save him. Why is Albert so special to Dantès? He’s related to someone from Dantès’ past.
  • The Count is powerful and wealthy enough to save an old associate from being executed, but he’s weird enough to make Franz and Albert watch the other criminal get executed.
  • Franz realizes he’s met the Count before, only when he partied with him in the grotto on Monte Cristo he knew his as “Sinbad.”
  • Dantès and Albert make a plan to meet in Paris at Albert’s house in exactly 3 months.
  • Who should Dantès meet at Albert’s house? Mercédès, his former fiancee, who is Albert’s MOTHER. Dear old dad is none other than Fernand. Mercédès is shaken and unnerved by The Count’s appearance, but she doesn’t say anything about her true feelings to her son.
  • Dantès buys a house in Paris and discovers that Villefort once had an illegitimate child with Madame Danglar there, and tried to kill it. Dantès’ servant, Bertuccio, rescued the child and gave him to his sister-in-law to raise.

Whew! This book certainly doesn’t lack for plot! And all the connections of the characters sometimes make me have to consult Wikipedia so I’m sure I know what’s going on. But it’s still good fun.

So I’ve got a lot of catching up to do, both here and on reading your blogs, friends. I hope you’re all staying well this winter – flu and other illnesses have been running rampant down here. My son’s school was closed because of illness for two days ahead of the holiday weekend. Drink lots of fluids, get some sleep, and wash your hands! 🙂

 

 

 

 

Reading Goals Update – January 2019

danielle-macinnes-222441-unsplash
Photo by Danielle MacInnes on Unsplash

Yes, I know January isn’t over, but I’ve made such good progress towards my reading goals that I wanted to go ahead and document it. I think a monthly post will also help keep my momentum going.

downloadGoal #1: Read From the New Books Shelf at Work. I’ve read one book! It was The Wife Between Us by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen. It’s a domestic thriller, which Anita Shreve blurbs on the cover as “Fiendishly clever… in the vein of Gone Girl and The Girl on the Train.” Well, I liked it somewhere between those two, giving it four stars for pure page-turning readability. It’s one of those books that’s pretty entertaining, slightly cheesy, and ultimately forgettable, sort of like reading an US Weekly magazine. Initially the writing didn’t float my boat (lots of brand-name dropping) but I let myself forget all that and just got lost in the escapist, twisty fun. I have a hold on the writing pair’s new book, An Anonymous Girl.

Now this isn’t really much of a stretch read for me as I do like mysteries and thrillers, but I’m just glad I read something that my branch owns for a change, ha ha!

Goal #2: Read The Count of Monte Cristo. I am currently on page 345 y’all! I am killing it. It’s still so good. I’m kicking myself for not reading it sooner, but I guess the right books come to you when you’re ready for them. (I mean after you’re out of school and teachers aren’t assigning you books way before you’re ready for them.)

Goal #3: Read more poetry. I’m progressing through Shauna Barbosa’s Cape Verdean Blues. It’s not grabbing me like I had hoped but I’m going to finish. I think maybe reading poetry is like exercising, and you have to get warmed up again after a period of inactivity. I also checked out five more books of poetry this weekend, so I’m at least setting myself up for success.

a1ndiwiiwqlGoal #4: Read More of My Own Books (#unreadshelfproject2019.) The prompt for this month on the Instagram challenge was to pick any unread book off your shelf and read it this month or get rid of it. I chose Cork Dork by Bianca Bosker, a book I purchased for myself during my birthday(ish) trip to Nashville and Parnassus Books. Sorry to say, this book was a DNF for me. I realized that I didn’t really care about wine to the degree necessary to make this book interesting or fun for me. I was annoyed by the obsessive sommeliers Bosker was interacting with and got to page 70 before throwing in the towel. I couldn’t imagine reading 230 more pages of it. I can see how some people would like this but it just wasn’t the book for me. However, this means I have gotten rid of one book from my shelf, so it’s a win (a donation to the Friends of the Library.)

Speaking of the library, I mentioned earlier that I’d gotten a promotion at work. I’m now the branch manager of my small public branch (seriously, we’re tiny, we normally have only three staff members.) I’m thrilled, relieved, and energized, and ready to try lots of new program ideas to try and get people in the door.

How are you all doing so far in January? I hope you’ve already found some great reads in 2019.

 

Totally Achievable Reading Goals for 2019

I was really excited to formulate my reading goals for the year. You all may know that I am a reader and blogger who dislikes sticking to lists and needs a lot of freedom in my book choices and in my blogging life. So I don’t make formal monthly TBRs because I know that just doesn’t work for me. But the goals I am aiming to achieve this year are so viable and doable – I am already getting started on them!

Goal #1: Read more books from the New Books shelf at work. I work in a small public library branch (actually, I just got a promotion, more about that later!) My regular patrons are always asking me, as they stand in front of the New Books shelf, “What have you read lately that’s good?” And of course, I immediately blank out and have to scrounge for titles. This is partly because I read so many backlist titles and also because my reading tastes don’t exactly line up with the tastes of many of my patrons. To that end, I am committing to reading at least 6 books from that range of shelving – and to trying some genres that I normally don’t read, like Inspirational (Christian) fiction, Romance, and gentle “Women’s” Fiction. (I don’t really like that genre title, and I don’t know if it’s a valid designation, but it seems to fit a certain kind of book for a certain kind of audience that makes up a large portion of my regular patrons who need recommendations. Maybe I should call it “fiction centered on women characters.” That’s kind of wordy. Anyway, you get my gist.)

41tj7urm1sl._sx323_bo1,204,203,200_Goal #2: Read The Count of Monte Cristo – finally! So I’ve already started on this one! I’m at page 100 of this 1400+ page behemoth. And guys, I’m really enjoying it! It’s so readable. My way of reading this while also reading other things is to read 100 pages a week. I’ll knock it out in a few months, and I’ll write some reader’s journal-like impressions of each section I complete.

Goal #3: Read more poetry. Last year I started off dabbling in some poetry, but I didn’t finish a whole collection the entire year. Sad face. If I can read 4 books of poetry this year, I’ll be happy.

Goal #4: Read more from my own bookshelves. Last year I did a good job of reading my own books, but I kept buying more, so my total number of unread books actually INCREASED over the course of the year. This year I am following along with The Unread Shelf Project on Instagram, where Whitney gives us prompts to get us reading our own books. This month’s is to pick a book off your shelf that you HAVE to read by the end of January or else you have to get rid of it. Motivation! My January book is Cork Dork by Bianca Bosker. I’ve started reading it and so far I like it, yay!a1ndiwiiwql

That’s it. I don’t want to make my 2019 reading feel like homework, so I’m happy with 4 goals. I am confident I can achieve them, and even if I don’t, I’ll at least have fun trying. Hey, if you have any poetry recommendations, lay them on me. I’ve checked out Cape Verdean Blues by Shauna Barbosa. I know nothing about her but Kendrick Lamar blurbed her book, which intrigued me, and it’s one of the newer poetry books added to our library system.

Do you make a list of reading goals for the year? Or do goals just seem like too much pressure? Let me know in the comments.