Archive for the ‘Reading Culture’ Category

Our Classics ClubHere’s my first Classics Spin list. On Monday Aug 11, The Classics Club will post a number between 1-20. That will be the book that I must read by October 6th.

My list includes old and new classics (see The Classics Club for ideas on what they consider “classics”). A few I’m eager to read, a few would be rereads, and a couple I feel I ought to read … in absolutely no particular order.

#ccspin and @ourclassicsclub on twitter

Lucky Spin Number: 17

I will be reading: The Murder at the Vicarage, by Agatha Christie

1.) The Small House at Allington, by Anthony Trollope

2.) Treasure Island, by Robert Louis Stevenson

3.) Testament of Youth, by Vera Brittain

4.) Greenvoe, by George Mackay Brown

5.) One Hundred Years of Solitude, by Gabriel García Márquez

6.) Anne of Green Gables, by L.M. Montgomery

7.) Suite Française, by Irene Nemirovsky

8.) Barchester Towers, by Anthony Trollope

9.) Blandings Castle, by P.G. Wodehouse

10.) Love and Friendship, by Jane Austen

11.) The Mysteries of Udolpho, by Ann Radcliffe

12.) North and South, by Elizabeth Gaskell

13.) Frenchman’s Creek, by Daphne du Maurier

14.) The Hobbit, by J.R.R. Tolkien

15.) Under the Greenwood Tree, by Thomas Hardy

16.) Crime and Punishment, by Fyodor Dosteovsky

17.) The Murder at the Vicarage, by Agatha Christie

18.) In Search of a Character, by Graham Greene

19.) Anil’s Ghost, by Michael Ondaatje

20.) Adam Bede, by George Eliot


The Classics Spin #7

The Classics Club


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Dewey's Readathon April 2104

2014 TBR Challenge and Dewey’s #Readathon stack.

The Dewey’s Read-a-thon, spring or fall, is always one of my favorite weekends. A whole day dedicated to reading!!

Sign up to join us for the read-in this Sat. April 26 at 8:00 am EST.

I am hoping to make a dent in my 2014 TBR Challenge Pile, which still seems rather large as I’ve been sidetracked by other books.

So, this is a double reading challenge day for me!

One Book Completed! Arabian Days and Nights by Naguib Mahfouz

Readathon Rerack

Back to bed with book, coffee, and a very lazy dog!

It was a drizzly, rainy morning so instead of our usual am adventure, the doggie was happy to jump back in bed … and stay there!

A nice (and luxurious) boost to my Read-a-thon productivity.

Indeed it was perfect reading weather. Last April, I was distracted by the fact that is was the first sunny, warmish day in months–so I kept sneaking outside.

Second book finished!

Second book finished!

I also finished The Book Thief by Markus Zusak, another TBR Pile Challenge pick. So two books down and a very relaxing day. I really wanted to savor my reading time and enjoy not being on a schedule. Mission accomplished.


So in Need of Dewey’s Read-a-thon October 2013

Here We Go, Dewey’s Read-a-thon April 2013

Read-a-thon or Read-a-5k? October 2012

Read or Cheer on the Dewey’s Read-a-thon October 2011

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IT bookWhat happens when you don’t like the “it” book? For years, people have raved about Winter’s Tale by Mark Helprin—it’s one of those cult books. I just read it for the 2014 TBR Pile Challenge, and I’m stumped as to my response.

I prefer not to disparage any book, as I don’t want to deter readers who might love said tome. I myself have been burned by people warding me off great reads. Coincidentally, on Sunday, The New York Times Book Review asked: “Do We Really Need Negative Book Reviews?”

To The Lighthouse, by Virginia Woolf, was on our high school syllabus, but my teacher resisted since she didn’t like it. She read a few passages aloud, but we never delved in. I just assumed it wasn’t a good book. (Perhaps not a good teacher?) What a surprise in college to discover the magic of Woolf’s “stream of consciousness.”

Likewise, Charles Frazier’s Cold Mountain languished on my shelf nearly five years because a few friends had panned it. That book wowed me and I think is one of the best American novels written—ever. Recently, I was the only member of book group to adore Julie Otsuka’s lovely novella The Buddha in the Attic, which I had almost skipped owing to email grumblings.

Clearly I am not a good indicator of popular culture, because I didn’t love Gone Girl or Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn. I am dazzled by her writing ability, but I didn’t really care about the characters or the plot. I’m not sure why, because Graham Greene has repeatedly invested me in unlikeable characters and twisted plots—as did Aravind Adiga with The White Tiger, which I could not put down. The Help, by Kathryn Stockett, was very readable, but I felt that it simplified some issues. Even books by a favorite author are not a safe bet. I love the No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency series but have not been able to make a similar connection with other books by Alexander McCall Smith.

However, these books are beloved by many readers. Thus, I don’t want to subject anyone to my own literary fickleness. They say you can’t judge a book by its cover, but I’d argue that you can’t judge it secondhand either.

Winters Tale Mark-HalprinBack to Winter’s Tale: it moved slowly and felt rather inaccessible. When, in a moment of melodrama, the hero and heroine first kiss … I laughed. I am actually an inveterate shipper, so this was a red flag for me. I did love the horse, though.

Still, I don’t want to discourage readers (or offend the legion of Winter’s Tale fans). Plus, I’d hate for someone who might “get it” to miss out because of me.

So what to do when you don’t like the “it” book? Pass it along for someone else to try. A friend was eager to claim my hardcover of Winter’s Tale, and she really likes “it.”

“Do We Really Need Negative Reviews? from The New York Times Book Review

Fascinated and Haunted by The Buddha in the Attic

The 2014 TBR Pile Challenge

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ccreadathon2 The 2nd Annual Classics Club Readathon takes place Sat. Jan 4th.

What better way to start the New Year than by reading classic literature?! Indeed, a cosy day of tea and classics will be most therapeutic before we all get back to reality on Monday.

Read my Intro Post and Readathon Progress Updates.

The 24-hour readathon kicks off at 8 am EST.  Sign up and join us!!

I have four books at the ready in my readathon pile, although I most certainly won’t get through all of them. I do not like to rush when I’m reading, especially not when I am reading classics. Classic literature is to be savored.

I’ve selected two novels and two collections of shorter writings. Check out my readathon progress.

classics readathon 1

Mansfield Park by Jane Austen is top of my hit list. This year marks the 200th anniversary of MP, so I am very excited to get into the celebratory spirit. This will be the fifth or sixth time I have read “my least favorite” Jane Austen novel. Still, it’s by Jane Austen, so it is of course a standout among books.

Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson— I think adventure on the high seas will be a nice offset to Fanny’s quiet world, though I suppose it would pair better with Persuasion and Captain Wentworth. Both Treasure Island and Mansfield Park are bildungsroman (coming-of-age) novels, so they work well together in that sense.

The New York Stories of Edith Wharton—I love Edith Wharton’s writing, and I was happy to discover this collection of her stories about Old New York society. I always find it fascinating to read her descriptions of the city, as many of her landmarks are still there.

What is Art by Leo Tolstoy—The Russian master theorizes on “the role of the artist,” in this collection of essays on art, culture, and society. Tolstoy also details his visits to the opera and other contemporary happenings. I made sure to secure Penguin Classic edition, translated by the award-winning duo: Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky.

WordHits: Classics Club Readathon Intro Post and Progress Update

Classics Club Readathon Official Starting Post #ccreadathon

The 2nd Annual Classics Club Readathon

Readathon Sign-Up

#ccreadathon hosted by @ourclassicsclub on Twitter

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coffee pic 2

1) What fine part of the world are you reading from today?
Connecticut, not too far from New York City. We started at 8:00 am.

2) Which book in your stack are you most looking forward to?
The Ghost Stories of Edith Wharton: I thought this would be a good pick to get me into the Halloween spirit. Also, I’ve only recently discovered this collection from one of my favorite authors.

3) Which snack are you most looking forward to?
The fruits of #Augtober! For breakfast, I had white raspberries and flush-pink raspberries (still at the farmers market this late in the season) with fresh mint from my garden. Later I will enjoy local corn on the cob which still tastes like summer.

Also, I love reading with tea or coffee. I have a Nespresso machine, a coffee maker, and a teapot on deck to fuel me.

4) Tell us a little something about yourself!
I am absolutely not a book snob! I am just as likely to pick up Alice Munro (woot for the Nobel!) or Anthony Trollope as I am to pick up genre virtuosos like Sophie Kinsella or Stephen King.

5) If you participated in the last read-a-thon, what’s one thing you’ll do different today? If this is your first read-a-thon, what are you most looking forward to?
I was distracted last April and snuck outdoors a lot because the read-a-thon fell on the first sunny, spring-like day after a long winter.

Now, we have had a streak of lovely weather so I feel no guilt spending the day on my couch reading.

To that extent, I may not participate in many of the challenges. I’ve had a hectic six weeks and am reading starved—so I plan to savor this read-in.

Check out some other Intro posts by Read-a-thoners!

Back to: So in Need of the Dewey’s Read-a-thon October 12, 2013
(updating post throughout)

Previous Dewey’s Read-a-thons

Here We Go, Dewey’s Read-a-thon April 2013

Read-a-thon or Read-a-5k?

Read or Cheer on the Dewey’s Read-a-thon!

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readathon largeAfter being away every weekend since Labor Day, I am so excited to sit on my couch and read ALL day for the Dewey’s Read-a-thon!!!

So far, we have over 400 readers around the world, who will start reading Sat. Oct 12th at 1 pm in London and 8 am EST in the US.

Why not sign up and join us?

More updates to follow, but I am SO looking forward to this long, therapeutic read-in.

8:00 am: Done! 3 books total:
The Ghost Stories of Edith Wharton, by Edith Wharton
Daily Rituals: How Artists Work by Mason Currey
The Great Gatsby, by F. Scott Fitzgerald

Also, a leisurely day of reading and decompressing. Much needed! Met several wonderful book tweeps along the way.

5:22 am: I did not plan this, but the reading gods woke me up! Cranked to finish book three: The Ghost Stories of Edith Wharton. Also, had some punchy wee-hour twitter banter with the #Readathon tweeps!

11:00 ish: Feel asleep after finishing book two: The Great Gatsby.

9:07 pm: So perhaps I got carried away when I had a glass of wine whilst reading The Great Gatsby. Or maybe it’s just how relaxed one feels after reading all day. I’m already in bed with my book.

6:50 pm: I only got about 2/3 of the way through The Ghost Stories of Edith Wharton. They are rather chilling. The sun is down so I’ve switched to a reread of The Great Gatsby. Must finish one before tomorrow.

3:16 pm: Ok, as I am from Dallas, I have peeked a few times at the Texas-OU game. #epic But mostly ensconced in spooky, period ghost stories by Edith Wharton.

2:28 pm: Finished my first book! Daily Rituals: How Artists Work by Mason Currey–an intriguing look at the habits of writers and artists (from Jane Austen to Andy Warhol). A short, fast read as mostly one-page vignettes.

12:28 pm: Oops! I’ve been so engrossed reading everyone’s Read-a-thon intro posts and by all the fun updates via twitter and the official Dewey’s Read-at-hon site … er, that I haven’t yet finished a book! (Oh well, they say that counts.) Going off-line.

Check out @Readathon on Twitter as well as #Dewey, #Readathon, and #RahRahReadathon.

11:22 am: Had to play fetch with the doggie. She is high energy!

coffee pic 210:26 am: Put up my Intro Post for the Dewey’s Read-a-thon. (Had to get some reading in first!)

9:17 am: Took a quick break to brew a nice pot of decaf. Smells wonderful!

8:02 am: Commence drinking Nespresso espresso (Roma blend).

8:00 am: Ready, set, #Readathon! Started with a leisurely read of the Sunday New York Times, a read-a-thon tradition for me. Yes, it will put me behind in the book count, but it is quality reading!

Previous Dewey’s Read-a-thons

Here We Go, Dewey’s Read-a-thon April 2013

Read-a-thon or Read-a-5k?

Read or Cheer on the Dewey’s Read-a-thon!

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NYer Fest graphicI am very excited to attend The New Yorker Festival this weekend in New York, with Maggie Fergusson, Literary Editor of Intelligent Life.

We will be posting updates at the More Intelligent Life blog:

Phantom Tollbooth’s Three Generations

Jonathan Franzen v Clay Shirky on Technology

Stella Rimington as “CounterSpy”

Paul Simon’s Sidewalk Dimes

New York’s Future? “The New Venice”

All About Immersion Journalism

Michael Chabon and Jennifer Egan

At the New Yorker Festival

I will also be tweeting @WordHits and you can peruse the official festival feed at #NYerFest.

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