Joining The Classics Club!

For a while now I’ve been entertaining the notion of joining The Classics Club, since so many bloggers I follow are a part of it and I do enjoy and want to read more classic literature. Since I’ve realized that, as an Obliger (Gretchen Rubin’s Four Tendencies,) I need to have outer accountability to meet inner expectations, I thought this would be the perfect little nudge I need to get me reading all those novels I’ve been “meaning to read” forever.

The (short version) rules of the Club are this:

  • – choose 50+ classics
  • – list them at your blog
  • – choose a reading completion goal date up to five years in the future and note that date on your classics list of 50+ titles
  • – write about each title on your list as you finish reading it, and link it to your main list

So by February 8, 2023, I hope to have read the following books (but I reserve the right to add and drop titles along the way:)

Gather Together in My Name – Maya Angelou

The Enchanted April – Elizabeth von Arnim

Lady Susan, The Watsons, Sanditon – Jane Austen

Giovanni’s Room – James Baldwin

Go Tell it on the Mountain – James Baldwin

Fahrenheit 451 – Ray Bradbury

The Long-Winded Lady: Notes From the New Yorker – Maeve Brennan

The Tenant of Wildfell Hall – Anne Brontë

Jane Eyre -Charlotte Brontë (reread)

The Master and Margarita – Mikhail Bulgakov

The Woman in White – Wilkie Collins

A Study in Scarlet – Arthur Conan Doyle

My Cousin Rachel – Daphne du Maurier

Great Expectations – Charles Dickens

Nicholas Nickleby – Charles Dickens

The Count of Monte Cristo – Alexandre Dumas

Adam Bede – George Eliot

Invisible Man – Ralph Ellison

Love Medicine – Louise Erdrich

Howard’s End – E.M. Forster

North and South – Elizabeth Gaskell

Wives and Daughters – Elizabeth Gaskell

Cold Comfort Farm – Stella Gibbons

Nightingale Wood – Stella Gibbons

The Thin Man – Dashiell Hammett

Strangers on a Train – Patricia Highsmith

Jonah’s Gourd Vine – Zora Neale Hurston

The Bird’s Nest – Shirley Jackson

Life Among the Savages – Shirley Jackson

The Lottery and Other Stories – Shirley Jackson

Quicksand – Nella Larsen

West With the Night – Beryl Markham

The Blue Castle – L.M. Montgomery

The Gowk Storm – Nancy Morrison (thanks Fiction Fan!)

Beloved – Toni Morrison (reread)

A Good Man is Hard to Find and Other Stories – Flannery O’Connor

1984 – George Orwell

The Last Gentleman – Walker Percy

Less Than Angels – Barbara Pym

Quartet in Autumn – Barbara Pym

The Sweet Dove Died – Barbara Pym

Ceremony – Leslie Marmon Silko (reread)

Crossing to Safety – Wallace Stegner

Anna Karenina – Leo Tolstoy

The Warden – Anthony Trollope

Brideshead Revisited – Evelyn Waugh

The Island of Dr. Moreau – H.G. Wells

The Picture of Dorian Gray – Oscar Wilde

Stoner – John Williams

To the Lighthouse – Virginia Woolf (reread)

Native Son – Richard Wright

So that’s 51 books, mostly novels, three memoirs (Angelou, Jackson, and Markham) two books of short stories (Jackson, O’Connor,) one book of essays (Brennan.) A few rereads, but it’s been at least ten-twenty+ years since I’ve read some of them. I am excited to dig in to these. Some I have been meaning to read for years, others I just learned about in the last year from fellow bloggers! Some of these I don’t know how I’ve escaped reading in school before now (1984, I’m looking at you!)

Have you read any of these? Any you’re particularly attached to or perhaps despise? Let me know in the comments!


Tiny, Almost Nonexistant Reading Goals for 2018

I LOVE this time of year for one reason:  the open-ended dreams of what one might read in the year ahead.  (And getting to read all of your reading goal blog posts, of course!)  I’ve mentioned before that I was planning NOT to have any reading goals for 2018, which I haven’t done before since I’ve been blogging.

Upon further reflection, I decided to set two small, teensy, you-have-to-squint-to-see-them goals.

Some of my owned and unread books

A. Read one book a month from the unread books I already own.  At current count I have 45 unread books in the house (with three on the way from Barnes and Noble – Christmas gift card!)  If I can read 12, that’s a fourth of my own unread books.


B.  Read The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas.  Yes, I was supposed to have read this in 2017 as part of my 40 For 40 goal list – you even voted on which intimidating classic tome I should read!  I’m excited to finally get to it.

That’s it.  No other reading goals.  I am trying to refrain from joining challenges and readalongs this year as well, but I’ll probably do Cathy’s Reading Ireland Month in March and the R.I.P. Challenge this fall.

As for my 40 For 40 List, I’ll write an update post about that in the next few days.  I’m still going to work on this in 2018 – after all, I’m 40 till May!  🙂

Best of luck with all your reading and personal goals this year!

BRL Best of 2017 and Year End Reflections

It’s that time again, friends, when we’re all taking stock of our reading and making plans for next year.  This has been a good reading year for me overall, although I didn’t fulfill many of the goals I set for myself at the year’s beginning.  I still read some enlightening and entertaining books, participated in the #AnneReadalong2017, the R.I.P. Challenge and Reading Ireland Month, and hit a new Goodreads Challenge goal!  So without further adieu, here is my Best of 2017 list (in no particular order.)

  1.  Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders.  Moving and inventive, unlike anything else I’ve ever read.  Saunders is a master of the human heart and a risk-taker.  I will read anything he writes.
  2. The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead.  Searing, violent, suspenseful, and unforgettable.  Whitehead’s finest work to date.
  3. At Mrs. Lippincote’s by Elizabeth Taylor.  A witty, melancholy novel WWII British marriage and motherhood with a feisty heroine.  I’m delighted to have finally discovered Taylor.
  4. My Name is Lucy Barton by Elizabeth Strout.  Some have loved this, some haven’t, but for me it was beautiful and devastating in the best sense.
  5. The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas.  A young black heroine teens can relate to, a realistic and loving family, and a heartbreaking exploration of police brutality in a poor African American community.  I’m thrilled this has become a best seller and is being made into a movie.
  6. The Stranger in the Woods by Michael Finkel.  My only nonfiction to have made the list.  I just adored this slim, page-turning book about a real-life hermit in Maine who survived the elements and eluded capture for decades.
  7. The Watsons Go To Birmingham 1963 by Christopher Paul Curtis.  A gem, a book I recommend for everyone.  Warm, funny, and heartbreaking all at once.  A great way to introduce a very heavy topic (the Civil Rights Movement and the Birmingham church bombing) to younger readers.  I listened to the audiobook and it was terrific.
  8. Exit West by Mohsin Hamid.  I was captivated by this slim novel that mixed fantasy, dystopian, and contemporary literary fiction elements to create a moving exploration of love and war in an unsettled age.
  9. Anne of the Island by L.M. Montgomery.  The third book in the series, this one focuses on Anne at college.  I loved reading about her being on her own and making friends, having fun before settling down into a more conventional role.
  10. Rilla of Ingleside by L.M. Montgomery.  The last book in the series, I was take by surprise by how much I loved it.  Darker than the rest, I was enthralled and moved by how the women of the community rose up to meet the challenges of World War I and the emotional toil of sending beloved sons and brothers overseas.

As for the numbers, here are my final reading stats for 2017:

Total books read (as of 12/27/17:) 90

Fiction: 77

Nonfiction: 12

Poetry: 1

Mysteries/Thrillers: 13

Graphic Novels/Comics: 3

Audiobooks: 6

Authors of Color: 18

Middle Grade: 15

YA/Teen: 11

Rereads: 7

Goals I Completed:

Read 6 YA books.

Read 6 middle grade books.

Choose 6 “random” reads.  I was trying to inject more “whimsy” into my reading life.

Goals I Didn’t Complete:

Authors of Color at 35% or higher.  Nope.  I only read a measly 20%.

Authors in Translation.  Not a one.  UGH.

There were other goals I didn’t complete but those were the biggest ones and I won’t bore you with the others.  As I’ve mentioned before, I am a mood reader, I hate reading off of a list (even one I make myself!), and I just don’t do well with self-imposed goals.  (I’m definitely an Obliger, if you follow Gretchen Rubin’s Four Tendencies personality framework.)  Which makes sense that I was able to complete my challenges and readalongs, because those all involved OUTER accountability.  Anyway, next year I am setting NO READING GOALS whatsoever.  I am just going to enjoy reading whatever I want, wherever my curiosity takes me.  I may participate in readalongs and challenges, I may not.

So, how about your own reading goals for 2017?  Any that you’re proud of reaching, or sorry that you didn’t reach?  Have you read any of my Top Ten?  What did you think? Talk to me in the comments below! 



Top Ten Tuesday: Books I *Might* Read This Winter

toptentuesdayHey there!  It’s Top Ten Tuesday time again, hosted by The Broke and Bookish.   I haven’t participated in one for a while.  But I do so love talking about TBRs – my own and yours as well!  It’s so much fun to anticipate the things we *might* read soon.  I am not a book planner, but I know some of you follow a pretty strict schedule. I’m very moody when it comes to reading, so I may get to these this coming winter – or I may not!  I just thought I’d share some of my picks and maybe get you talking about your own.

Lady Susan, The Watsons, Sanditon by Jane Austen.  This has been lingering on my Goodreads TBR since 2008!  And I now possess a copy of my own.  2018 is the year I finally read this!13120860

Dead Scared (Lacey Flint #2) by Sharon Bolton.  I read the first in this series recently and loved it.  I’m itching to get to the second, in which DC Flint goes undercover as a university student investigating a rash of apparent suicides.

We Were Eight Years In Power: An American Tragedy by Ta-Nehisi Coates.  I think Coates is just brilliant, and I’ve read parts of this essay collection in The Atlantic.  I am hoping that Santa brings me this one for Christmas!2edce15dd0865323d6ec6776d200de48-w204@1x

Whatever Happened to Interracial Love? by Kathleen Collins.  I’ve had this short story collection lingering on my iPad for nearly a year! I’m not a big e-book reader – when I get home from work I don’t really want to read on a screen.  But I bought this and a few other things really cheap last winter, so I really need to read them.

Goodbye, Vitamin by Rachel Khong.  My blogger friends who have read this seems to all really like it.  And it’s gotten good critical reviews as well.

Wizard and Glass (Dark Tower #4) by Stephen King.  Back in the summer I was all about the first three of this series.  Then I had to read some other stuff.  But now I’m read to jump back in!

The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America’s Great Migration by Isabel Wilkerson.  I bought this intending to read it this year; didn’t happen. It’s massive but I’ve heard and read nothing but good things about it and I will complete it in 2018.

The Body in the Library (Miss Marple #3) by Agatha Christie.  After reading my first Miss Marple mystery this year, I’m ready to try another one!  Agatha Christie makes for good cozy wintry reading.

What We Lose by Zinzi Clemmons.  From Goodreads: Raised in Pennsylvania, Thandi views the world of her mother’s childhood in Johannesburg as both impossibly distant and ever present. She is an outsider wherever she goes, caught between being black and white, American and not. She tries to connect these dislocated pieces of her life, and as her mother succumbs to cancer, Thandi searches for an anchor—someone, or something, to love. 7126

The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas.  Hey, remember when I had that poll on my blog that you all voted on and this ginormous classic novel won?!?  Yes, I was supposed to read this one this year.  Whoops!  🙂

Have you read any of these?  Do any appeal to you?  What are you planning to read this winter?

BRL Quarterly Report #9

Well, since October is very nearly over (do you realize how close we are getting to the holidays??) it’s past time to do another Big Reading Life Quarterly Report!


Books Read (July-September:)  17

Fiction:  13

Nonfiction: 4 (This is the Story of a Happy Marriage – Ann Patchett, The Temporary Bride – Jennifer Klinec, Hunger – Roxane Gay, and The Stranger in the Woods – Michael Finkel)

Audio: 3 (all Harry Potter books: Sorcerer’s Stone, Chamber of Secrets, Prisoner of Azkaban)

Middle Grade: 3 (see above)

YA/Teen: 5

Authors of Color: 3

Published in 2017: 5 (The Dry – Jane Harper, Hunger – Roxane Gay, The Stranger in the Woods – Michael Finkel, The Hate U Give – Angie Thomas, and Magpie Murders – Anthony Horowitz)

Favorites This Quarter: The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas (my review here,) Hunger by Roxane Gay (review here,) and The Stranger in the Woods by Michael Finkel (review here.)

Reading Goals:  Ha ha ha!    🙂  After having finished two of my goals (Random Picks and YA Books) I’ve pretty much abandoned the rest of my reading goals that I came up with in January.  And I’m okay with that, honestly.  For a while now my reading pace has been sluggish, and my concentration has been abysmal, so if I can finish my other RIP Challenge book, finish out the #AnneReadalong by the end of the year, and read my book group books, I’ll consider it good!  I’m trying to take (admittedly self-imposed) pressure off my reading life.

Also, a happy development!  I recently went over the 350 followers mark!  I don’t quite know how that happened, but it’s really neat to see the numbers grow.  I know that far fewer than that actually take the time to leave comments, but I want you who regularly read my little blog and comment that I REALLY do appreciate you so much.  I love that I’ve gotten to “know” so many thoughtful, funny, kind book lovers around the world! Your passion for reading and writing inspires me daily to keep reading and writing, even when times are tough.

So how have your last few months in reading gone?  Any surprises or challenges in your reading life lately?  Have you abandoned any of the goals you may have set up for yourself in January?  What’s been the best book you’ve read in the past 3 months?

BRL Quarterly Report # 8

@thiskitschHere we are, into the third quarter of the year already!  How did that happen?  My son starts school again in about two weeks!  This year is flying by.  Time to write about the reading I’ve done the past three months.

Books Read: 20

Fiction: 19

Nonfiction: 1 (Lauren Graham’s memoir Talking As Fast As I Can)

Audio: 4 (LG’s memoir, Sense and Sensibility (read by Juliet Stevenson!  So good!,) Wonder by R.J. Palacio, and The Watsons Go to Birmingham 1963 by Christopher Paul Curtis.

Juvenile/Middle Grade:  2  (Wonder and Watsons)

YA/Teen:  3 (Anne of Green Gables, Anne of Avonlea, and The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl Vol 3: Squirrel, You Really Got Me Now by Ryan North and Erica Henderson.)

Graphic Novels:  1 (Squirrel Girl)

Authors of Color:  6 (Exit West, John Crow’s Devil by Marlon James, The Book of Unknown Americans by Cristina Henriquez, No One Is Coming To Save Us by Stephanie Powell Watts, Watsons, A Tale For The Time Being by Ruth Ozeki)

Published in 2017:  3 (Exit West by Mohsin Hamid, No One Is Coming To Save Us by Stephanie Powell Watts, and Into the Water by Paula Hawkins)

Favorites This Quarter:  How It All Began by Penelope Lively, Exit West by Mohsin Hamid, Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen, and The Watsons Go To Birmingham 1963 by Christopher Paul Curtis.   I’ve not reviewed the two audio books, because I don’t usually review those on my blog.  I listen to them in the car pretty much exclusively; therefore I don’t have an opportunity to take notes as I do on my print reading.  So I don’t feel like I would have more than a paragraph or two to write about them.  Hmmm… maybe I’ll do a semi-regular audio book round-up in the future?  That’s an idea worth pondering.

Reading Goals:  So I’m happy to say that I’ve completed two of my reading goals for the year!  I have now read 6 juvenile/middle grade titles and have read at least 6 Random Picks (books that weren’t on my TBR at the start of the year.)  It figures that a goal that I completed already would the the random reading, ha ha!  If you’ve been a visitor here for a while you know what a mood reader I am.

In fact, as of late I’ve been considering having NO reading goals at all for 2018. I have been in the mood to just read whatever the heck I want to, with no regard for lists or challenges of any kind.  I just don’t do well with planned reading.  It’s like diets – when someone tells me not to have the cake or cookies, the thing I want most on this Earth is a piece of cake or a cookie!  So when I make a list of books I want to read in a certain time span (Hi #20BooksofSummer!), all I want to read is all the *other* books on my shelves and my Goodreads list!  Mind you, they’re ALL BOOKS THAT I WANT TO READ SO I DON’T KNOW WHAT THE HECK IS WRONG WITH ME, but there it is.

So how was your last reading quarter?  How are you progressing on your reading goals?  Did you make goals?  Are you chafing under them?  Why or why not?


#20BooksofSummer REVISED: Because I’m Awful At Planning My Reading!

I knew that when I signed up for this 20 Books of Summer thing I would have trouble with it!  It’s kind of funny.  I mean, it’s only mid-June and I’m already revising my list. But I am just horrible at planning my reading.  I am a creature of whim when it comes to my books – plus I am in a book group that meets monthly.  WHICH I TOTALLY FORGOT to take into account when I wrote my first post EVEN THOUGH I’VE BEEN IN IT FOR TEN YEARS! Good grief.

140290I’m cutting out five books from my original list. One I started reading and just didn’t like (J. Courtney Sullivan’s Saints For All Occasions.  A shame, since I very much liked her other books.)  So I have already subbed in an Agatha Christie (The Mysterious Affair At Styles.)  And since I’ve become hooked on Stephen King’s Dark Tower series, I’m subbing in the third book, The Waste Lands, because I don’t think I can make it to September without reading it!

Then I’m adding my book group books for June and July to my list.  Our book for this month is Ruth Ozeki’s A Tale For The Time Being.  I’ve heard so many good things about this – I hope it’s good!  I’m going to listen to it on audio and read it, so I can try and finish it by our next meeting.

Taking Out:

  1. Lady Susan, The Watsons, Sanditon by Jane Austen
  2. Discontent and Its Civilizations by Mohsin Hamid
  3. Ghana Must Go by Taye Selasi
  4. Now You See Me by Sharon Bolton

tb-cover-993x1500Subbing In:

  1. A Tale For the Time Being – Ruth Ozeki
  2. The Waste Lands – Stephen King
  3. Unnamed Book Group Pick for July
  4. Unnamed Book Group Pick for August

I do still want to read the four I took out, but I also want to get as close to finished 20 books as I can, so they will have to wait.  This is hard!

I’ve finished the second book from my list (Into the Water by Paula Hawkins.) I really liked it.  Four stars!  I’ll be posting a review in the next couple of days.

So how are you faring with your lists?  Are you having to cut and add things like I am?