Sunday, December 27, 2015

Back to (Almost) Normal, Falling Off the Mountain, A Reading Challenge

**NEWS FLASH** I AM BACK!!!!!!!!!!

If you read my blog, thank you very much! I hope you missed me -- I missed you! Feeling much better, not quite 100%, but getting close. I have missed blogging very much and am quite happy to be back.

During this hiatus, I have had lots of time for reading and reflection. Health issues have a way of focusing the mind. And, in times of crisis some important things are no longer important. Please pardon the confessional bits here -- I have always taken too much pride in my smarts. I have smarts. But, I also lack the common sense gene. I admit it! I set high expectations for myself because I have to live up to my smarts, but the reality is, I spend (spent!) a lot of time doing this and that because I thought it was absolutely necessary to accomplish these things. One of these "things" is reading Ulysses. So, in the spirit of stepping away from what I used to think was SOOOO important, I am calling a halt to the Mt. Ulysses expedition. I was very enthusiastic and enjoyed the endeavor at first. While down and out I felt guilty for not reading, listening, or researching Ulysses and Joyce. As I began to feel better, I started listening to the dramatization again and realized it did not appeal to me at all. In fact, it was boring, tedious, unintelligible, and too much WORK. It became obvious that I was no longer enjoying myself and if I am retired and in control of my own doings, why do something so awful? Clarity is good. So, thanks to the gods of recuperation, I am embarking on new adventures and leaving James Joyce and his genius behind. I hope no one is disappointed, (she smirks). We are officially OFF the mountain! Fair warning, this might not be the only project I abandon. If a book does not grab me I will let it go.

First things first before we can really move on. Let's clear our agenda for a fresh start in 2016. Taking stock of past reading projects I see we have three unfinished sojourns.

-- The Collected Stories of Colette
-- The Mountains of the Moon
-- Pepys' Diary

All are worth finishing, so look for coming posts on these in the new year.

I am still using LibraryThing and its Legacy Libraries feature as my reading guide. So far, I share books in my library with 52 Legacy authors (there will be more when I have cataloged my entire library). Homer's works are those most commonly shared, 34 out of 52 authors having at least one of his works in common with me. I have read and discussed Homer so we are done with him, unless his work becomes part of another discussion. Moving forward, I want to divide my reading and the direction of this blog into several "groups". Since I have always had more than one book going at the same time, I want to keep (loosely) to something like this:

-- History & The Classics

-- Biography, Diaries, Letters

-- Travel, Nature

-- Literature, Poetry, Essays

-- 2016 Reading Challenge

-- Everything Else (includes art, movies, and life in general)

Finally, at this time of year there are tons of "Best of" lists and reading challenges for the coming year. One of the challenges I have always enjoyed (but have never accomplished because I am easily distracted) is the "Read xx number of books in the coming year" kind of thing. Without formally joining a challenge on another blog, I am creating my own challenge. You, dear reader, are not required to join in, but it might be fun for you to stroll through your "To Be Read" stack and pick out your own books to read in 2016. Clear those decks, forget resolutions, just read!

So here is the challenge:  Read 16 books from your To Be Read stack in 2016. Here are mine:

Stack #1

Stack #2

Stack #1:

Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, Susanna Clarke
     Currently on page 234, so have a head start but will finish in 2016 so it counts

Love Medicine, Louise Erdrich
The Song of the Lark, Willa Cather
The Leopard, Giuseppe Di Lampedusa
The Sea, the Sea, Iris Murdoch
Provence, Ford Madox Ford
Portrait of a Marriage, Nigel Nicolson
The Virginia Woolf Reader, ed. Mitchell A. Leaska

Stack #2:

Pilgrim at Tinker Creek, Annie Dillard
Bad Land, Jonathan Raban
Venice, Jan Morris
Crossing Open Ground, Barry Lopez
The Diary of Virginia Woolf, Volume One 1915-1919, ed. Anne Olivier Bell, Introduction by Quentin Bell
The Siege of Krishnapur, J.G. Farrell
The Fact of a Doorframe, Adrienne Rich
The Art of Drowning, Billy Collins

Happy New Year, and gather those books for the 2016 Reading Challenge!!!