Tag Archives: ReadMyOwnDamnBooks

Taking The Classics Club for Another Spin (8/99)

The Classics Club

As someone who considers herself an avid reader, I readily admit that my familiarity with classic literature is lacking. It just is.  There are classic novels that I feel I really should have read by now and authors who I haven’t read at all.

Mind you, I am firmly in the camp that life is too short and that reading should be enjoyable. If it feels like a chore or homework, I’m not about to waste my valuable reading time.

Still, the classics beckon.

Slightly over a year ago, I decided to jump into a popular online reading challenge called The Classics Club, created in March 2012 to “unite those of us who like to blog about classic literature, as well as to inspire people to make the classics an integral part of life.” The idea is to make a list of at least 50 classics you’d like to read and — within five years — read and blog about them.  My complete list can be found here.

Every so often, the organizers do a “spin” where you list on your blog 20 classics from your list that are still unread. The organizers select a random number; whatever book corresponds to that number is the book you need to read by a certain date.

I’ve participated in two previous spins (#9 and #11), but without much success.  (Actually, I haven’t had much success in the past year with this project; I’ve abandoned two classics and finished one.)

For Spin #13, I decided to choose books from my list that I actually own because the selection would also count for #ReadMyOwnDamnBooks:

  1. Adichie, Chimamanda Ngozi: Half of a Yellow Sun
  2. Atwood, Margaret: The Blind Assassin
  3. Dickens, Charles: Tale of Two Cities
  4. Gilman, Charlotte Perkins: Herland
  5. Ibsen, Henrik: A Doll’s House
  6. Irving, Washington: The Complete Tales
  7. Jackson, Shirley: Just An Ordinary Day: The Uncollected Stories
  8. Kingsolver, Barbara: The Poisonwood Bible
  9. McCarthy, Cormac: The Road
  10. McCarthy, Mary: The Group
  11. McCullers, Carson: The Heart is a Lonely Hunter
  12. Morrison, Toni: Paradise
  13. Henry, O. : Collected Stories
  14. O’Connor, Flannery: Wise Blood
  15. Plath, Sylvia: Johnny Panic and the Bible of Dreams: Short Stories, Prose and Diary Excerpts
  16. Robinson, Marilynne: Housekeeping
  17. Salinger, J.D.: Nine Stories
  18. Wharton, Edith: Summer
  19. Woolf, Virginia: Orlando
  20. Woolf, Virginia: Three Guineas

And the lucky number is … 15!

Johnny Panic and the Bible of Dreams

Of Sylvia Plath’s work, I’ve only read The Bell Jar. I’m intrigued with this collection of 13 short stories, essays, prose and excerpts of journal entries.

99 Days of Summer Blogging

This is Post #8 of 99 in my 99 Days of Summer Blogging Project. 

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Sunday Salon/Currently: The Big Game’s On, January Recap

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What a week. Without going into too many details, this week kicked my ass.  I’m glad it’s over. I’m utterly exhausted. I was ready for bed by 6:20 p.m. on Friday night.

To be honest, it has been a tough start to the year.  Whether it’s The Husband’s job situation (we’re in Month #7 of unemployed hell), having to spend $4,000 on a furnace, or any number of other issues that I’m not at liberty to write about here, all I can say is this: If the month of January and the beginning of February are any indications of how the rest of 2016 is going to go, then this relationship is not going to work out.

Super Bowl Plans
Today’s the Super Bowl, and as per usual, we don’t have any grandiose plans nor any dogs in this fight. I’m very glad the Cheaters Patriots didn’t make it, and for once I’m looking forward to the halftime act. (I like Coldplay.) Before that, though, I’m planning to get my hair cut (we are getting professional headshots done tomorrow for a work project) and I still need to go to the grocery store. Hopefully all the crazies have already been there. I’m not making anything fancy. The Boy has requested french onion dip, which is easy enough.

The Big Game’s On Read-a-thon

2016BigGamesOn

I’m participating in The Big Game’s On Read-a-thon, which Jennsbookshelves has brought back this year. Hence, I’m considering this as my kickoff post.  Not sure what I’ll be reading. I had intended to start Poor Your Soul by Mira Ptacin, but I don’t think I’m in the right frame of mind for that one.

Reading
The Life Changing Magic of Tidying UpThis week, I finally got around to finishing The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo. I started this back in the fall and abandoned it early on — probably when she was advocating thanking our clothes for doing such a good job during the day. Decided to pick it up again because too many of my friends reported good success with KonMari. I’m intrigued by the concept of decluttering by category — and I’m going to give it a try — but this business of worrying about my socks’ feelings and unpacking my handbag every damn day isn’t going to work.  Also, I’ll give my books a once-over, as I tend to do every so often when I feel the need to reduce the number of volumes on my shelves, but I’m not going to do a mass purge of them.

January Reading
I read three books in January:

The Heart Goes LastBoys in the TreesMy Name is Lucy Barton

It’s always somewhat unsettling to me when I don’t enjoy a book by a favorite author.  Such was the case with The Heart Goes Last (which I reviewed earlier this week) and My Name is Lucy Barton. I know that it’s unrealistic to love everything one person writes, but I was especially surprised that I didn’t like Elizabeth Strout’s new novel more than I did. From the other reviews I’ve read, I’m very much in the minority with this opinion. It felt like there was too much packed into what is a short novel. I don’t know; I need to think about this one a little more. It could be that I wasn’t in the right frame of mind for this particular book.

On the other hand, I am a huge Carly Simon fan and I was very much looking forward to her memoir, The Boys in the Trees. It did not disappoint. I loved this.  The majority of this felt more autobiographical than memoir; however, that seemed to change a bit in the last … oh, I don’t know, third of the book. So much I didn’t know about her life. Many of her songs take on a whole different meaning now.

Blogging
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All three books that I read in January are ones I own, which wasn’t planned, but it means #ReadMyOwnDamnBooks is off to a good start for me. I really want and need to make a serious dent in my book piles this year. I’m not sure if I read three of my own books during all of 2015.

Things I Liked This Week

I’d never heard of Margaret Chase Smith before reading Ellen Fitzpatrick’s New Yorker article, “The Unfavored Daughter:  When Margaret Chase Smith Ran in the New Hampshire Primary.”

When I shared this article (“Everything Doesn’t Happen for a Reason“) on Facebook, most people grasped onto the sentiments of what not to say when someone is going through a tough time.  What resonated with me, though, was this: “Because we aren’t going to be able to avoid people going through something, we have to practice getting more comfortable with other people’s discomfort–something that does not come easily. Vulnerability researcher Brené Brown notices that we so strongly need people to “rise strong” that we “reflexively look away” when we witness someone’s “still-incomplete healing.”  

This idea of getting more comfortable with other people’s discomfort makes a lot of sense to me, in light of some of the situations we’ve been — and are currently — going through. As the saying goes, you really do find out who your friends are at such times.

What about you … are you watching the Super Bowl?  Participating in The Big Game’s On Read-a-thon?  Hope your weekend has been a good one and that you have a great week. (I’m hoping for a much better one than last week!) 

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welcoming 2016 with the first book of the year

Happy New Year! I hope that your New Year’s celebrations were enjoyable ones and that this first day of 2016 is going well.

We had a quiet New Year’s Eve at home; I made gluten-free lasagna for dinner, read some poetry and essay collections (Spot the Terrorist by Lori Jakiela; Looking for The Gulf Motel by Richard Blanco, and Remains of Passion by Sarah Einstein) to reach my goal of reading 52 books in 2015. We watched the now-insufferable Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve, made it to midnight, and tumbled into bed shortly thereafter.

My head was pounding when I woke up this morning; this would be understandable if I’d had wine with dinner, but I didn’t because all we have in the house is red wine. Ironically, that’s usually a surefire migraine trigger for me.  I wound up going back to bed for a few hours and now, with the assistance of my friend Maxalt and some chamomile tea, am feeling much more like myself.

Which is good, because I had big plans for today.

First Book 2016

I’m thrilled that Sheila from Book Journey is hosting her annual First Book of the Year event. I love this event because I’ve always given a considerable amount of thought to which book will be the first that I read in any given year. I place a great deal of importance on selecting the book that I do, because I feel that the first book can set the tone for a year, whether it is to inspire change or growth or … whatever.

A Room of One's Own

For 2016, I chose A Room of One’s Own by Virginia Woolf as my First Book of the Year. It’s one that I’ve been wanting to read for a long time now, it is my selection for The Classics Club’s current spin as well as The Classic Club’s Women’s Classic Literature Event, and since I own this one, it allows me to Read at Least One of My Own Damn Books. (I say it every year, but reading my own damn books is going to be a focus area for me this year. Really.)

I’m excited about this one.  I’ll let you know if it lives up to my expectations.

(The year and the book.)

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currently … a little christmas, now

Trimming the Tree - Reading Elf

Currently…
Things are getting back to normal after our family’s scare on Thanksgiving.  We’ve had some time to reflect on everything and how close it seemed to having our lives changed forever. I’d like to think I already was appreciative, grateful, thankful, etc. without a medical emergency as a wake-up call and that I wasn’t taking anything or anyone for granted, but this has magnified that. Needless to say, It has been an emotional week (on quite a few fronts, actually).

Decorating…
We decided to put the Christmas tree up yesterday because, as one of my favorite holiday songs goes, we definitely needed a little Christmas in the aftermath of the past week. Every single ornament has some personal, sentimental significance. There isn’t one ordinary ornament on the tree. If I had to choose a favorite, it’s the reading elf that’s pictured above.  I’ve had it forever; it was given to me when I was a young child. We don’t do outdoor lights or much decorating besides the tree.

Reading … 
Thirteen Ways of LookingYou all know how much I love Colum McCann.  I love everything he has written and I think he’s a brilliant author. I’m reading Thirteen Ways of Looking for a review and I am just completely in awe of this man. The title novella is probably one of the best pieces of shorter fiction I’ve ever read.

Listening …
Speaking of short fiction, my current audiobook is The Complete Short Stories of Ernest Hemingway, which I thought was on my list for The Classics Club, but it isn’t.  The only Hemingway I’ve ever read is The Old Man and the Sea, which was back in high school or something and left me unimpressed (like many people).  I was in the mood for short stories on audio when I picked this up at the library.   Some are better than others.  Of those I’ve read so far, the ones I thought were particularly well-done are “The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber,” “Capitol of the World,” and “Up in Michigan.”

Blogging…
Sheila from Book Journey is planning to host her third annual First Book of the Year event on January 1.  Like Sheila, I always give a lot of thought to the first book I read in any given year. I like it to be something that, in whatever way, sets the tone for the months to come — whether that happens to be related to a goal, something to provide inspiration, or whatever.

ReadMyOwnDamnBooksbuttonI like having my first book of the year be one that I already own, because that gives me a personal sense of accomplishment that at least ONE book from my shelves will be read in any given year. And as luck would have it, there’s a “reading effort” that will help me with this.  Andi from Estella’s Revenge is hosting #ReadMyOwnDamnBooks, billed as a “you do you,” choose-your-own-adventure. No rules or requirements except reading your own damn books. So, I’m in … although I don’t know what my personal guidelines will be yet. I may just make it up as I go, with the objective being to read as many from my stash as possible.

If you’re participating in The Classics Club, it’s time to spin! This involves listing “your choice of any twenty books you’ve left to read from your Classics Club list — in a separate post. Tomorrow the organizers will post a number from 1 through 20. The challenge is to read whatever book falls under that number on your Spin List, by February 1, 2016. More details are here.

Since I never finished (or even started) my designated book for the last spin I joined, I’m highly tempted to reuse my same list for this go-around.  But it’s worth a revision, so we’ll see what tomorrow brings!

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