Books and Things

I’ve been going through a sort of limbo phase in my life. There are some issues at work (ie I haven’t been working) and instead I’ve been using this time to catch up on projects, bake, and think about what I want to focus on this year. I will write more about those focuses later (some of you know them as “resolutions”) but one that I’ve already been pursuing is the tandem goal of writing more and reading more. Those two activities are so intertwined, fueling one another. As I tried to hammer out my book this fall for NanoWriMo I let my reading slip. To be honest, reading had been on a downhill slide for me since my grad school adventure last year. I’d lost my zest for the printed word. I’m back in love with books and plan to keep a list of what I’ve read this year along with a few impressions.

January 2010
Franny and Zoeey (J.D. Salinger)
Catcher in the Rye (J.D. Salinger)
Tortilla Flat (John Steinbeck) (updated 1-24)

Interesting style. Easy to read and entertaining without losing any of the “heart”. The book is broken up into vignettes, mini-chapters that detail various episodes in the lives of the paisanos of Tortilla Flat, a neighborhood above Monterey. The way it reads is more like watching a television show than a novel but you glimpse the characters long enough to care about them and their struggles – but not so much that you care about them more than what/who they represent. My favorite character was the Pirate and his band of dogs.

in progress Within a Budding Grove (Marcel Proust)

February 2010
Snows of Kilimanjaro (short stories) (E. Hemingway)
Cannery Row (John Steinbeck)
Of Mice and Men (John Steinbeck)

Reading fell by the wayside a bit this month as I was consumed by the baby shower, the nursery, and finally our anniversary trip. February is already a truncated month and all these activities didn’t make it any easier for me to stick to my resolution to read and write every day. The writing went fairly well, however…More on that later. I had somehow made it through life without reading Of Mice and Men, even though I love Steinbeck’s longer works. Turns out, I love this too.

March 2010
The Voyage Out (Virginia Woolf)

My resolution is to get back to reading this month and make it a daily part of life. For some reason, I love reading when the days are longer. It’s hard for me to read in winter. My eyes move slowly across the lines of text and grow heavy before I’ve made it more than a few pages into a chapter. I think it has something to do with hibernation. Anyway, the days are growing light again and I’ll be able to focus more easily. There’s nothing better than sitting and reading in a sunny spot.

*Update (3/30) – I finished The Voyage Out (Virginia Woolf) and loved it. I had to read it in scant sections at a time during stolen moments, but I *wanted* to read and looked forward each day to the moment when I could catch my breath and turn a few more pages. I attempted and discarded The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society (sorry Grandma, it just wasn’t my style), and am beginning Orlando (also V. Woolf) tomorrow. I read more this month- but I had a lot of distractions! For one thing, I celebrated the birth of my niece, who also enjoys reading – or at least being read to. Reading is such an important part of life and I’m glad my family is taking the time to share a book with Lily every day.

April 2010
Orlando (Virginia Woolf)

This month was poor indeed! Not the book, of course; I loved Orlando. Unfortunately, I only had time to read when I was at the gym – and I wasn’t even there that often. I finished but am sad that I didn’t have a chance to appreciate this novel in a continuous form. I started re-reading Walden by Thoreau yesterday (April 30) so perhaps that will carry me into May. I certainly crave the kind of renewal that spring and Thoreau bear. *Note- I finished Walden


–> I have notes on what books I read this summer, but will have to add those later

Not counting the dozens and dozens of articles, poems, plays, snippets of novels, and two textbooks I read, this is the sum of my fall reading:

September 2010
Jane Eyre (Charlotte Bronte)

October 2010
The Worldly Philosophers (Robert Heilbroner)

November 2010
Bowling Alone (Robert Putnam)

December 2010
(August 2010 – December 2010) Gravity’s Rainbow (Thomas Pynchon)
Breakfast of Champions (Kurt Vonnegut)
in progress Satanic Verses  (Salman Rushdie)


5 thoughts on “Books and Things

  1. I need to make a reading list. My books are arranged in purely random order, but there are at least 100 in my collection that I haven’t read yet. The other day I thought a fun plan of attack would be to read from left to right on my shelves, not pickiing anything based on what I *want* to read, but just what’s in the next location that hasn’t been read. I gave up on this idea when I saw that one of the first books I had no interest in. Don’t ask me why I bought it or why it’s still there.

    • The most important thing is to enjoy what you read. If that means you don’t like the next book in line, skip it! That’s what ruined the English grad program for me- I was constantly forced to read things merely because they were due that week. And I mean many things- close to a dozen books per week. That schedule turned reading from one of my favorite activities into torture.

  2. I find that reading a good, well written book motivates me to write. I loved Cannery Row when I read it last year and when I re-read Of Mice and Men, despite knowing what happens I was convinced it would end differently!

    I really enjoyed The Voyage Out but I am struggling to write about it for my blog so I am reading it again (which is no hardship!)


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