Classics Club Spin #18!

It’s Spin time! I joined The Classics Club (now under new leadership) earlier this year and got the word yesterday that it’s time for another Spin (my second.) What’s a #CCSpin? Well, basically you choose 20 books from your original list and then on Spin Day the Classics Club leaders choose a number from 1-20. Whichever number is drawn is the classic book you read and write about next!

So here are my 20, pretty much chosen randomly (I did put some chunksters in there to mix it up:)

  1. Fahrenheit 451 – Bradbury
  2. Lady Susan, The Watsons, Sanditon – Austen
  3. Jane Eyre – Brontë (re-read)
  4. The Woman in White – Collins
  5. A Study in Scarlet – Conan Doyle
  6. The Thin Man – Hammett
  7. The Count of Monte Cristo – Dumas
  8. The Lottery and Other Stories – Jackson
  9. West With the Night – Markham
  10. 1984 – Orwell
  11. Less Than Angels – Pym
  12. Anna Karenina- Tolstoy
  13. Crossing to Safety – Stegner
  14. Native Son – Wright
  15. Ceremony – Silko
  16. Stoner – Williams
  17. Island of Dr. Moreau – Wells
  18. Brideshead Revisited – Waugh
  19. Beloved – Morrison (re-read)
  20. The Gowk Storm – Morrison

If you’re in the Classics Club, good luck with your spin! I hope you all get the number you want. (Totally statistically impossible, but you know.) 🙂

Have you read any of these? Have any thoughts?

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Mid-Year Reading Goal Check-In

Since the year is half over, I thought it was time for a 2018 Reading Goal check-in. You may recall that I made two teeny-tiny reading goals for the year:

  1. Read at least one book a month from the books I already own, and
  2. Read The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas.
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Of this stack from February I’ve read four!

 

On the first goal I am doing AMAZING. I’ve already read 13, which means I’ve technically completed my goal! But I have added new purchases to my owned stacks of books (is anyone surprised? No.) So I want to keep making a dent in my piles of owned books through the rest of the year.

I haven’t yet begun to read Count, but I am definitely planning on diving in this fall, after 20 Books of Summer is over. Actually, I’ve been mulling over doing a little readalong. I’ve never led my own readalong before and I’m intimidated, frankly! Would anyone out there be interested in reading along with me this fall? It would be SERIOUSLY low-pressure. I’d probably just try and break it up into sections and take my time with it. If you’re interested, let me know in the comments!

I lowered my number of books for the Goodreads Reading Challenge this year to 52. I completed it this past week. Before you think I’m some reading machine, I have included several books that my son and I have read together, like some of the Magic Tree House books and Bad Kitty books. I decided to do that because I’m reading them too and I want to have a record of what we read together! But the lower page counts of those books do inflate my numbers.

img_2257As far as my 20 Books of Summer challenge, I’ve read 7 and am almost finished with my 8th book. I’ve only written about three of them, though, so I definitely see some mini-reviews in my future. Right now I’m in a good reading groove, but I only have time to post once or twice a week, and if I have to choose between actually reading a book and posting a blog post, I’ll pick reading!

So how are your reading goals going so far this year? I’d love to hear if you’ve completed any goals, made progress, or if you’ve abandoned any goals. Do you set goals for your yearly reading? 

BRL Quarterly Report # 10

It’s the end of March, which means it’s time for a Quarterly Report!

Big Reading Life Quarterly Report (1)Books Read (Jan-Mar): 26

Fiction: 20

Nonfiction: 6

Audio: 3 (The Book of Joy – Dalai Lama XIV and Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Hunger Makes Me a Modern Girl – Carrie Brownstein, and Hallelujah Anyway – Anne Lamott.)

Chapter Books/Middle Grade: 6

YA/Teen: 0

Authors of Color: 5

Published in 2018: 1 (The Wedding Date by Jasmine Guillory – review yet to come.)

Faves This Quarter: Anything is Possible – Elizabeth Strout, The Music Shop – Rachel Joyce, How Many Miles to Babylon – Jennifer Johnston, The Book of Joy – Dalai Lama XIV and Archbishop Desmond Tutu, The Last American Man – Elizabeth Gilbert (review forthcoming!)

Thoughts: On the Read Books I Own Goal, which was to read at least one book a month from my own unread stacks, I’m killing it! 🙂 I’ve read 7 so far. I am confident I can read 5 more by the end of the year, and fairly confident I will read more than that!

My audio books were all nonfiction, and that’s pretty representative of my audio books in general. I just focus better with nonfiction on audio for some reason. (Although I have had some great experiences with children’s fiction on audio.) My podcast addiction (utterly insatiable!) means that I don’t devote much time to audio books.

I’m not really feeling YA books right now. Not that I ever felt them that much to begin with, ha ha!

I am counting the books I read with my son in my yearly reading totals. The chapter books, anyway. (We still read picture books too.) I read them aloud to him at night before he falls asleep. We read the two Charlie books by Roald Dahl and now we’re steaming through The Magic Tree House series!

It’s been a great reading quarter, with only one two-star read. That was the last of the Elena Ferrante quartet, The Story of the Last Child.  It was disappointing, considering how well I liked the other three. Every other book this quarter rated three stars or better. Oh, and I joined The Classics Club! I’ve read and reviewed one book (Patricia Highsmith’s Strangers on a Train) and thought it was most enjoyable.

How has your first three months of the year been with respect to reading? If you made goals, are you making progress? Any surprises so far this year, or have you been following your usual reading patterns? Talk to me in the comments.

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.

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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.

and

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?