My First Classics Club Spin! (Classics Spin #17)

I’m delighted that there’s a new Classics Spin just a few weeks after I decided to join the Classics Club! If you don’t remember, the Classics Club is a reading challenge (sort of) that celebrates “classic” literature and when you join you make a list of fifty titles you want to have read and written about in five years. For the Spin, I take twenty of my chosen books and number them 1-20. On Friday, March 9, the leaders of the club will post a number. I then have to read the book that corresponds with that number by April 30!

I like this idea, because I haven’t yet begun to read any of my classics. This is the push I need! Here’s my list of 20:

  1. Gather Together in My Name – Angelou
  2. Giovanni’s Room – Baldwin
  3. The Long Winded Lady: Notes From the New Yorker – Brennan
  4. The Master and Margarita – Bulgakov
  5. Great Expectations – Dickens
  6. Count of Monte Cristo – Dumas
  7. Love Medicine – Erdrich
  8. Wives and Daughters – Gaskell
  9. Life Among the Savages – Jackson
  10. Quicksand -Larsen
  11. The Gowk Storm – Morrison
  12. A Good Man is Hard to Find – O’Connor
  13. 1984 – Orwell
  14. Less Than Angels – Pym
  15. Ceremony – Silko
  16. Crossing to Safety – Stegner
  17. The Warden – Trollope
  18. Brideshead Revisited – Waugh
  19. Island of Dr. Moreau – Wells
  20. Native Son – Wright


I don’t know if there are any that I don’t want picked at the moment. Well, maybe not the Bulgakov. I’m kind of hoping for #18 or #9. But I’ll be happy with whatever number comes up! Then I’ll be on my way. ūüôā I’ll be sure to let you know the verdict after March 9!


WWW Wednesday (February 28, 2018)

WWW Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Sam at Taking On A World of Words.  Give her blog a look and join the discussion!img_1384-0

Two things to start off my WWW Wednesday:

  1. I saw “Black Panther” on Saturday and it was SO AWESOME. I’m not normally a superhero movie person, but this one is a must-see. Funny, moving, full of big ideas and questions. Terrific cast. I just loved it.
  2. Dammit, there are sexual impropriety allegations surfacing about Sherman Alexie. I am SO SO disappointed. He is one of my favorite writers. This sucks. I’m still processing what to do with my admiration for his writing.


I’ve been reading a lot lately, but just not really feeling like writing about reading. I don’t know, I get in these moods sometimes, and then in a week or two I emerge and write two posts a week.


Let’s talk about books, shall we?

The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?


51hi92m66BLSwing Time by Zadie Smith. This is my book group book for February (we meet next month.) At about the 80-85 page mark, I got really bored. If it wasn’t for book group, I might have abandoned it. But I continued, and I’m glad I did. I’m halfway through now, and it’s gotten a lot more interesting. I am pretty sure it won’t be one of my favorite books ever, but it should provide a lot to talk about. Smith is ambitious, I’ll give her that, and she is a lovely writer on a sentence level. I’m just not sure about her focus. This book sort of meanders around, and it does skip back and forth among time periods, which isn’t a deal breaker for me, but something about the way she’s doing it is a bit jarring. Our narrator is unnamed, a mixed-race brown woman growing up in London in the first part of the story. The first part focuses on her friendship with Tracey, another brown girl who also takes dance lessons, although Tracey is more naturally talented than our narrator. As the book progresses, it focuses more on the narrator’s relationship with her employer, a mega-famous international pop star named Aimee, who reminds me of Madonna. Aimee wants to build a school for girls in Africa, and that’s where I am in the book. There’s a lot going on here with race and privilege and friendship and family dysfunction. It’s pretty good, but I’m still reserving judgement.lamott-hallelujah

I also just started listening to the audio book of Hallejuah Anyway: Rediscovering Mercy by Anne Lamott. Read by the author. I love her. I know I’m going to enjoy this.

Recently Finished:

34203744The Music Shop by Rachel Joyce. I LOVED this book. It was on the lighter side without being stupid, a quality in books that I esteem SO highly. It was like a really smart rom-com movie only with the added bonus of being about music and the power of music to save people’s lives and bring people together. It’s one of those books that I just want to swoon and sigh over. If you need something that is a feel-good read, this is the book for you. This is my first Rachel Joyce book, but I’m going to have to investigate her other books now for sure!

Up Next (always subject to change:)

March is Reading Ireland Month, co-hosted by Cathy at 746 Books, so I’ll be reading Jennifer Johnston’s How Many Miles to Babylon? and possibly Sebastian Barry’s The Secret Scripture. Both authors are new to me. I’ve also still got Stephen King’s Wizard and Glass checked out and haven’t even started it yet. I need to get going with my Classics Club list and I think I’m going to choose a mystery to start, possibly Strangers on a Train or The Thin Man.

Have you read any of the books I’ve listed? Have you seen “Black Panther” yet?¬†What do you do when one of your favorite authors is revealed to be a (pardon my language) shithead?¬†I hope you’re all having a good week and are enjoying your books! Tell me something good!¬†



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:

  • ‚Äď choose 50+ classics
  • ‚Äď list them at your blog
  • ‚Äď choose a reading completion goal date up to five years in the future and note that date on your classics list of 50+ titles
  • ‚Äď 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 Bront√ę

Jane Eyre -Charlotte Bront√ę (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!


Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Books I MEANT to read in 2017 and Didn’t

I am not a regular participant in Top Ten Tuesday¬†(hosted by Broke and Bookish, for now) much anymore, but this is one theme I’ve done in the past and enjoy writing up.¬†It’s the Top Ten Books You Meant to Read in 2017 and Didn’t Get To. ¬†So many good intentions and only so much time in the day, right? ¬†I’m sure we all have a list of the things we wanted to read last year. ¬†But just because we haven’t gotten to them yet doesn’t mean we can’t read them this year. ¬†There’s always hope.

We all know that I didn’t get to Wilkerson’s The Warmth of Other Suns and Dumas’ The Count of Monte Cristo. ¬†But what else had I been hoping to read last year?

The Portable Veblen by Elizabeth McKenzie. Stefanie, Teresa, and other bloggers who’ve read this have rated it charming and funny, and it looks like the kind of smart, quirky book I need in my life.

The Fire This Time:  A New Generation Speaks About Race, edited by Jesmyn Ward.    I own a copy of this, and I WILL get to it in 2018.

Sleeping Giants by Sylvain Neuvel.   Looks like my kind of weird.  Maybe by the time I get to it the third one in the trilogy will be out!

On Turpentine Lane by Elinor Lipman.  One of my favorite comedic novelists.  Also very underrated.

March: Book 3 by John Lewis, Andrew Aydin, and Nate Powell. ¬†I had a copy of this checked out from the library but I didn’t get to it before I had to turn it in – it had holds! And then it just got lost in the shuffle.

Born a Crime by Trevor Noah. ¬†I’ve heard so many good things about both the book and the audiobook that I ended up waffling between the two formats and never getting either one.

Difficult Women by Roxane Gay.  I enjoy short story collections, but I tend to put them off indefinitely!

The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl by Issa Rae. ¬†One of three Kindle purchases I made last year that I haven’t read. ¬†I just don’t like reading on a screen as much as reading on paper, so I put it off.

Any of George Saunders’s short story collections (besides Tenth of December.) ¬†He’s one of my favorite writers (based on December and Lincoln in the Bardo,) so why haven’t I read any other of his books?

Discontent and Its Civilizations: Dispatches From Lahore, New York, and London by Mohsin Hamid. ¬†Another book I had in my hands from the library and didn’t read.


Have you read any of the books on my list? ¬†Do you also check out library books and never get to them, and then they get lost in the shuffle? ¬†Anything you wish you’d read last year that you’re determined to read this year? ¬†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!¬† ūüôā

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


A Solution Staring Me In The Face

I read mostly fiction. ¬† For years I’ve been meaning to read more nonfiction, and I add more and more nonfiction titles to my Goodreads TBR, but there they sit, as I continue to devour novels. ¬†However! ¬†I’ve just stumbled upon a pretty obvious solution to my problem. PUT THE NONFICTION ON HOLD AT THE LIBRARY, LAILA.

See, one of the perks of working at a library is everyday access to the library catalog, where I can check and see if new titles have been added before they’re published. ¬†(Patrons can do this too, it’s just that I’m here all the time and think about it more often than the average person, probably.) ¬†So when I know the new Michael Connelly or Kate Atkinson book is coming out soon, I put myself on hold and hopefully will be near the top of the list. ¬†But for some reason, I NEVER THINK to put myself on hold for nonfiction. ¬†I’ve got a hold list full of fiction (and movies and compact discs ) instead.

A few months back I put White Rage: The Unspoken Truth of Our Racial Divide by Carol Anderson on hold. ¬†When it came around to me, shockingly, I read it! ¬†So I thought, “This worked so well, why don’t I look at my Goodreads list and put some more nonfiction on hold?”

Here are three nonfiction titles I’ve recently placed on hold (book blurbs from Goodreads:)

the-last-castle-9781476794044_hrThe Last Castle: The Epic Story of Love, Loss, and American Royalty in the Nation’s Largest Home by Denise Kiernan. ¬†(“The fascinating true story behind the magnificent Gilded Age mansion Biltmore‚ÄĒthe largest, grandest residence ever built in the United States.”) ¬†At the moment I’m number 81 out of 91 waiting for it. (Knoxville isn’t too far from Asheville, NC, which is one reason I think that there are so many people waiting for this.)

51GLNSdDDqL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_The Radium Girls: ¬†The Dark Story of America’s Shining Women by Kate Moore. ¬†(“The Curies’ newly discovered element of radium makes gleaming headlines across the nation as the fresh face of beauty, and wonder drug of the medical community. From body lotion to tonic water, the popular new element shines bright in the otherwise dark years of the First World War.

Meanwhile, hundreds of girls toil amidst the glowing dust of the radium-dial factories. The glittering chemical covers their bodies from head to toe; they light up the night like industrious fireflies. With such a coveted job, these “shining girls” are the luckiest alive – until they begin to fall mysteriously ill.”) ¬†I am currently number 12 out of 16 waiting.

9780553447453Evicted: ¬†Poverty and Profit in the American City by Matthew Desmond. ¬†(“Even in the most desolate areas of American cities, evictions used to be rare. But today, most poor renting families are spending more than half of their income on housing, and eviction has become ordinary, especially for single mothers. In vivid, intimate prose, Desmond provides a ground-level view of one of the most urgent issues facing America today.”) ¬†There isn’t a waiting list for this one anymore, but I’ve suspended my hold until January, when I’ve hopefully made a dent in the books I’ve got on my nightstand at the moment.

So now that you’re shaking your head at my obtuseness, tell me: ¬†if you’ve ever wanted to make shake up your reading habits, what are some strategies you’ve used to actually get those books in your hands? ¬†Have you read any of these books, or if not, do they interest you? What is your balance of fiction to nonfiction? ¬†Let’s chat in the comments!


WWW Wednesday (December 6, 2017)

WWW Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Sam at Taking On A World of Words.  Give her blog a look and join the discussion!

The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?


At Mrs. Lippincote’s by Elizabeth Taylor. ¬†Where has this book (and this author) been all my life? ¬†This is right up my alley. ¬†She reminds me of Barbara Pym (one of my favorite authors.) ¬†It is funny and sad and witty and I am excited to have her whole catalog to explore after this!518kAM5wEIL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_


White Rage: The Unspoken Truth of Our Racial Divide by Carol Anderson. ¬†Oh my goodness. ¬†I can only read 5-10 pages of this at a time because it makes me so damn angry. ¬†I am learning things about Reconstruction, the Great Migration, and the aftermath of Brown V. Board of Education that I should have learned in school. ¬†It’s making me so sad that, even though I had what most would call a “very good education,” I remained so ignorant of the history of race relations in the U.S. ¬†It’s a very short book with lots of well-researched end notes, so I should have finished this already. But the means white people have devised to keep African Americans from achieving equality are mind-boggling and infuriating.

Recently Finished:

51gqBvjRITL._SX321_BO1,204,203,200_Silent Nights: Christmas Mysteries edited by Martin Edwards. ¬†I’ve been wanting to try one of these British Library Crime Classics for a while now. ¬†Uneven, like most short story collections usually are. ¬†But there were a handful of outstanding stories, so I’m glad I read this. ¬†(Ethel Lina White’s “Waxworks” was a story I won’t soon forget!) ¬†I’ll be writing a review in the next week or two (she says hopefully…)



Up Next:

I’ve got a ton of books checked out right now, so I’m kind of overwhelmed by all the choices! ¬†Here are just a few that I should read soon and get back to the library (waiting lists on a couple of these.) ¬†But you know me – my next read might be something else randomly chosen from my shelf at home!

What We Lose by Zinzi Clemmons,  The Burning Girl by Claire Messud, and Anything is Possible by Elizabeth Strout.


Read any of these?  Anything look tempting?  What have you just finished reading?