2016 Reading Goals

2016 Reading Challenge

2016 Reading Challenge
Dana has
read 0 books toward her goal of 55 books.
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The beginning of the year is a good time to reading goals for the year. I have decided to increase goal from reading 52 books last year to 55 this year. Given that I surpassed my goal of 52 books last year by 10 books, it might seem like I’m low-balling a bit, but I had never even managed to read 52 books in a year before, and I don’t want to make myself stress out over a reading goal, of all things. I decided to increase it a little bit and see if 2015 was a fluke or not.

I also now have a page for keeping track of my reading challenges. I don’t know why I didn’t think of creating a page before, but I didn’t. I have rearranged a few small things on this blog as well. Most of the stuff is in the same place.

I ultimately decided in the middle of 2015 to stop using Shelfari. It has one feature that I really like: it lets you keep track of multiple reads, even of the same edition. Goodreads lets you mark how many times you have read a book, but it doesn’t let you count a read during multiple years. I had to create tags in order to do that. I know this feature request has been made of Goodreads, and I’m not sure what they will decide to do about it, but I wish they’d implement it. I ultimately decided not to keep track of books on Shelfari anymore, but I didn’t delete my account. Most of my book friends are on Goodreads, and it’s a bit more social, so I am not going to keep using Shelfari, even though I think Goodreads could take a few pointers from Shelfari and have a better service for readers. I am not the only person who re-reads all the time, I know.

I don’t know what is happening with the Where Are You Reading Challenge. I’m thinking about creating a mapping/book setting challenge that is similar. Does that sound like something anyone would be interested in?

I’m not going to make goals to read a certain number of genres (except for the Historical Fictional Challenge). I think I have a better time when I just read whatever I want, which just makes sense. Last year, I got a bit bogged down in the first half of the year with some challenges that were more rigid. Later this year, of course I will do the R. I. P. Challenge in the fall, but I don’t anticipate taking on any more challenges unless the book setting one is a go.

2015: Reading Year in Review

New Year Magic
New Year Magic, Zlatko Vickovic

On the last day of the year, I always like to reflect on my reading year. This year, Goodreads has created a really handy infographic with some interesting statistics from the reading year. I wish they allowed for downloading and embedding. I was fascinated to learn that I had read 20,722 pages this year. That particular statistic is not one I’d ever thought about before. I read 62 books, which is more than I’ve ever read in a single year before. That works out to an average book length of 332 pages. It’s also an average of almost 57 pages each day. I suppose Goodreads calculates the number of pages in each book I marked “read” to determine the total for the year, but I should mention that some of the books are audio books. Still, those should count as pages read, I suppose, because it works out to be the same thing. Sometimes when you are listening, it’s not so obvious how long books are. I mean, yes, it took me forever to listen to The Fiery Cross, but I didn’t realize it was over 1,400 pages long. No wonder! It took me so long to finish listening to that book that I have been somewhat reluctant to commit to the next book in the series! The Fiery Cross book is over 55 hours long to listen to, but the next one is 57 hours long!

Some reading statistics:

  • Total books: 62
  • Total fiction books: 44
  • Total nonfiction books: 10
  • Total drama books: 4
  • Total poetry books: 4
  • Total audio books: 16
  • Total re-reads: 15
  • Graphic novels/memoirs: 5

My favorite books of the year broken down into some random categories (re-reads not considered—I already knew I loved them or I wouldn’t have read them again):

Children’s

 

Reviews:

Young Adult (YA)

   

Reviews:

Adult Fiction

         

Nonfiction

   

Reviews:

Audio Books (re-reads considered if I have never listened to them before)

 

Reviews:

My least favorite reads of the year:

I know it’s bad form to lump a couple of classics in with that group, but aside from a few nuggets of wisdom, I didn’t enjoy reading either Candide or Walden. I usually like Neil Gaiman quite a lot, but Trigger Warning didn’t do it for me. I should mention that I didn’t rate any of the books I finished this year less than three stars, which for me means it was okay—not bad, just okay. I am no longer patient with books that I don’t like. I am much more likely to stop reading books that are sitting on two stars at about 50 pages in. My point is even my least favorite reads of the year weren’t bad.

Reading Challenges

2015 Reading Challenge

2015 Reading Challenge
Dana has
completed her goal of reading 52 books in 2015!
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I was able to meet the challenge of reading a book a week for the first time ever this year. I’m really excited about that because it’s been an unreachable goal of mine for some time. In fact, as you can see, I surpassed this goal by reading 62 books! Last year, I read about half that number.

I completed the R. I. P. Challenge by reading four R. I. P. books from September 1 to October 31. The books I counted toward this challenge included:

I completed the Historical Fiction Reading Challenge by reading 20 books from January 1 to December 31. I determined a book was historical fiction if it was set in a time that was reasonably outside the time in which it was written, either partially or totally. Thus, books like Song of Solomon and Revolution count because a substantial portion of both books is set in a time before the book was written. The books I counted toward this challenge included:

I did not complete the Reading England Challenge, having read 10 out of 12 books from January 1 to December 31. The books I counted toward this challenge included:

I did not complete the Literary Movement Reading Challenge, having read 5 out of 12 books from January 1 to December 31. The books I counted toward this challenge included:

Medieval—The Lais of Marie de France
Renaissance—As You Like It, William Shakespeare
Enlightenment—Candide, Voltaire
Romanticism—The Annotated Wuthering Heights, Emily Brontë
Transcendentalism—Walden, Henry David Thoreau

I stalled out after Walden took me too long to finish, and I couldn’t keep up after that.

I completed the Outdo Yourself Reading Challenge, having read 62 books from January 1 to December 31, thus outdoing my previous number of books read in a year.

I did not complete the Back to the Classics Reading Challenge, having read 7 out of 9 books from January 1 to December 31. The books I counted toward this challenge included:

In the coming year, I plan to have a Reading Challenges page so I can more easily keep track of what I’ve read. This post was very hard to write because I had to look all of this up. 😥

Finally, here is my map for the Where Are You Reading Challenge:

I wouldn’t have guessed this from the first six months, which was slow-going until I stopped worrying about a couple of challenges, but 2015 turned out to be my best reading year yet. I read some truly great books and returned to some favorites, too.

Sunday Post #28: One Month of Reading

Sunday Post

It has been exactly four weeks since I have written a Sunday Post. I have had a pretty busy summer, but I didn’t realize I hadn’t updated in that long. I have made some excellent progress on reading goals, mainly because I’m teaching a new course this year, and I needed to read some of the books to prepare. I’m in the process of re-reading some others in order to have them fresher in my mind as I teach them.

Since I last wrote a Sunday Post, I have finished reading Gilead by Marilynne RobinsonThe Song of Solomon by Toni MorrisonThe Piano Lesson by August Wilson, and The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro. I have also been re-reading the Harry Potter series on my Kindle, which I find an easy way to get through those fat monsters at a faster clip. I am about a third of the way through my re-read of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. I also read The Complete Maus, but I didn’t review it because I think I have already reviewed it before.

I have completed the level of the Historical Fiction Challenge to which I had committed. I should go up another level. I’m nearly there for the next level, and there is still plenty of time. I’m just never sure how much time I’ll be able to commit to a challenge. I hate to say I’ve abandoned a challenge this early, but I have pretty much given up on the Literary Movement Challenge. I didn’t have time to get to the literary movement for May, and I just never moved forward from there. It’s okay. I had plenty of reading I needed to do for school. I’m doing okay with the other challenges, and I’m ahead on my total reading goal of reading 52 books, which is a good position in which to be, given I will most likely get pretty busy as school starts and will need some cushion time.

I have not added a lot of books to my TBR pile, which is a good thing, as it’s already too big.

 

Right now, I’m re-reading both King Lear and A Thousand Acres for my new course. I am really enjoying reading these books concurrently, and I am especially enjoying listening to the Naxos Audio production of King Lear featuring Paul Schofield as Lear, Toby Stephens as Edmund, and Kenneth Branagh as the Fool (and a host of other superb actors). I highly recommend it.

The Sunday Post is a weekly meme hosted by Caffeinated Book Reviewer. It’s a chance to share news, recap the past week on your blog, and showcase books and things we have received. See rules here: Sunday Post Meme.

Sunday Post #26: When to Quit a Book

Sunday PostI am trying to decide whether or not it’s worth it to keep going with I Always Loved You by Robin Oliveira. I am about 100 pages in, and it’s still not grabbing me. I have read that it’s a slow starter, but there is slow and there is glacial. I guess the real kicker for me, too, is that it’s historical fiction, and I’m not really learning much. The people are not jumping off the page for me. I guess I have answered my question. Makes me sad because I invested a good amount of time in it and was so looking forward to it. I will be even sadder if I invest more time in it, and there never is a payoff. Anyone read this book and care to comment?

On the plus side, as I put this book aside for a while, I managed to finish several books. Reviews up:

I enjoyed all three and read each of them quickly (for me). Given the amount of time I’ve spent on I Always Loved You, I haven’t moved much. Oh, I hate to give up on a book. I don’t have any real sense of failure or anything; it’s just that I really wanted to like this one. I mean really! And Susan Vreeland, one of my favorite contemporary writers who writes about art, gave it a lovely blurb.

In other news, Go Set a Watchman is being released on Tuesday, and it’s been all over the news because you can read the first chapter, which drops a big bomb in a shocking, matter-of-fact way. However, a lot more hay has been made out of Michiko Kakutani’s revelation that Atticus is a racist. People who are surprised by this revelation are forgetting a few crucial points:

  1. To Kill a Mockingbird is narrated by a young girl (and granted, a grown woman, to a certain extent) who idolizes her father. We so want to see the best in our loved ones.
  2. Atticus is a bit saintly in TKAM. Could it be that this is Lee’s attempt to show the inherent contradictions in people? Don’t we all have someone in our lives whom we love… but who holds opinions we hate? If you agree with everyone in your family on every aspect religion, politics, and civil rights, well, you’re pretty fortunate. It is possible for the Atticus in both books to be the same man. Actually, it’s fairly interesting. Do we wish Atticus were not racist? Naturally we do. In the same way we wish our own family members would just have a different view about ______. Right?
  3. It is possible for a person like Atticus to feel like he should defend Tom Robinson and still not want his grandchildren to go to school with the Tom Robinson’s grandchildren. People have an amazing ability to compartmentalize. Yes, they might say, I believe black and white people can marry if they want to, but they shouldn’t have children. Or yes, they might say, I believe gay people have the right to go about without being assaulted, but they shouldn’t marry. A lot of people have lines they draw. Atticus might feel that it isn’t fair for a black man to be wrongfully accused of rape and go to prison for it, but that doesn’t mean he is interested in equality.
  4. Atticus is older. Sometimes, as people age, they grow more frightened of the “other.” And think about what the Civil Rights Movement may have looked like to an aging man who was frightened of the changes it meant. He might have been more tolerant in a time when it didn’t look like things would change so drastically. I don’t know about you, but in this year when there has been so much racial tension in the US, I have noticed more overt bigotry than I have seen in a long time. People are upset, so it’s easy to cast someone as the “other” and lump people together and stereotype based on prejudice. People are feeling in many ways as though their beliefs and the way they live are under attack. I have seen it. In 2015. Sometimes I wonder how it will look in 50 or 60 years when we look back on this year. Go Set a Watchman alludes to a monumental Supreme Court case (presumably Brown vs. the Board of Education of Topeka, KS.). We had a monumental decision this year, too. And a lot of people felt attacked by it.

I am not excusing Atticus. I am also not saying not to be disappointed in Atticus. I am, too! I would love for him to be the hero, the man ahead of his time. But it might be premature for us to be dismiss the book as untrue to his character. After all, how can we know it is? We only know what Scout told us before, and what we do learn from reviews of GSAW is that Scout herself is disillusioned by what she learns about her father. We all know people who have views we might consider contradictory, and people change over time. Time has passed from TKAM to GSAW. I am still going to read it.

I found some other related links you might find interesting:

Added to my TBR pile since last week:

       

 

The Sunday Post is a weekly meme hosted by Caffeinated Book Reviewer. It’s a chance to share news, recap the past week on your blog, and showcase books and things we have received. See rules here: Sunday Post Meme.

Sunday Post #20: Summertime

Sunday PostLooks like summer is starting pretty much all over (at least in the northern hemisphere). I’m beginning to see vacation pics on Facebook, and I’ve been eying my TBR pile, looking for good summertime reads.

I have a bit of a busy summer ahead. I am going to at least four teaching workshops. If anyone tries to tell you teachers don’t work during the summer, don’t you believe it. In addition, I have a new course to plan.

This week, I finished two books. The first I’ve already reviewed: The End of the Affair by Graham Greene. The second I have not yet reviewed, but will review and post about tomorrow (so good that it really needs its own post rather than a review rolled into the Sunday Post): We Were Liars by E. Lockhart. Both were audio books.

I am still finishing up Walden, though my other books are on a bit of a hiatus, with the exception of I Always Loved You by Robin Oliveira. I don’t know if other readers do this or not, but I have to have at least one paper book, one e-book, and one audio book going at all times. The paper books I can read in the tub without fear of destroying an expensive device. The e-books I can read pretty much everywhere, including in bed with the lights off, so I don’t disturb my husband. The audio books I can listen to while I do housework or make soap.

I love to read books set in my adopted home state of Massachusetts, so that was one reason why I liked We Were Liars so much, and I admit, seeing Massachusetts as a setting will push a book higher on my list. Here is a partial list of some of my favorite Massachusetts reads.

           

Some I’m looking forward to diving into or finishing:

    

I wonder if other readers are like me and like to read about places they have lived. I also certainly read a lot of books set elsewhere, too.

I added some books to my TBR list this week:

 

I know what you’re thinking: some variation of either “why haven’t you read The Things They Carried?” or “why wasn’t it already on your list”? It sort of was on my list, to address the second question, but now an oversight is corrected in that it’s on my Goodreads to-read list. As to the first question, yeah, I know.

Not at all a bad reading week, and I’m looking forward to more time (I hope) to read this summer. What about you? Have any recommendations or books you’re anxious to read?

The Sunday Post is a weekly meme hosted by Caffeinated Book Reviewer. It’s a chance to share news, recap the past week on your blog, and showcase books and things we have received. See rules here: Sunday Post Meme.

Sunday Post #10: Sweet Sunday

Sunday PostAh, sweet Sunday, about halfway through my spring break. I’m curling up with a glass of wine at the end of the day. I usually try to write my Sunday Post blog earlier in the day.

This week, I finished and reviewed two books: The Lotus Eaters by Tatjana Soli and Trigger Warning by Neil Gaiman. I absolutely loved The Lotus Eaters; it prompted me to want to learn a little bit more about Vietnam. I’ve been watching a documentary on Netflix. I feel the documentary is barely scratching the surface. More reading might be necessary. You know, I have a clear memory of General Westmoreland visiting my high school in Anaheim. It must have been 1987 or 1988. We had some sort of assembly, and he talked to us. I had the distinct impression he was trying to defend himself, and I couldn’t figure out why. I had no idea who he was, really. I wonder why in the world he came to speak at my school?

I started reading three books this week as well: Candide by Voltaire, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams (audio book narrated by Stephen Fry), and Pleasantville by Attica Locke (TLC Book Tour; galley copy). I know what you’re thinking: you haven’t read Candide? You haven’t even read The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy? Nope, I haven’t read either, but I’m fixing it. I am really enjoying Hitchhiker’s Guide. Stephen Fry is a perfect narrator.

Isn’t it nice to be on spring break? I have all this time to read and watch documentaries on Netflix. I have been making a lot of soap this week, too. Most of it is for a wholesale customer, but I made a batch of Cedar & Saffron for my store. It smells great. Quite masculine. Those are safflower petals on the top. It won’t be that pretty shade of yellow, sadly, once it hardens up. It will turn a brown color due to the fragrance. I hope it will be pretty.

Cedar & Saffron SoapAnother thing I did this week is make a digital story about my grandmother, who taught herself to sew in the 1950’s and established a nice sewing business in her home. You can watch the digital story here if you like.

I ordered this copy of Fiona Ritchie and Doug Orr’s Wayfaring Strangers this week as well.

Wayfaring StrangersThe book comes with a CD of music that includes music from artists on both sides of the Atlantic, including Dolly Parton and Dougie MacLean. I’m excited to dive into that one. I am particularly interested in the migration of music from Ulster and Scotland to Appalachia. I have ancestors that I’m quite sure were Ulster Scots, Irish, and Scots, and in some branches of my family, a strain of music runs in a thread in nearly every generation. I’m a musician. My uncle is a musician. My grandfather was a musician. His grandmother played the organ, as did her mother; his grandfather played the fiddle. My grandfather’s grandmother had an ancestor who also played the fiddle. Perhaps this musical thread is one reason why I connected so strongly to Sharyn McCrumb’s novel The Songcatcher. I am certain it’s why I connect so strongly to Celtic and Appalachian music.

So that was my week. How was yours?

The Sunday Post is a weekly meme hosted by Caffeinated Book Reviewer. It’s a chance to share news, recap the past week on your blog, and showcase books and things we have received. See rules here: Sunday Post Meme.

Sunday Post #9: Spring Break!

Sunday PostMy spring break started this weekend. More time to read! I didn’t have a lot of time to read this week, so unfortunately, I didn’t make a whole lot of progress to report about.

In my last post, I reported I was about an hour away from finishing Neil Gaiman’s short story collection Trigger Warning. I still am. I haven’t had a chance to listen to it at all this week. I also haven’t picked up Marie Antoinette: The Journey by Antonia Fraser in the last week. However, I did start Candide by Voltaire for the Literary Movement Reading Challenge. Well, I read the introduction, at least.

Mainly, I have been reading The Lotus Eaters by Tatjana Soli. Fantastic so far. I find sometimes I have to put it down for a while almost because it’s too much sensory input. I am not sure if that makes sense, but the descriptions are so vivid, and given it’s a book about Vietnam War photojournalists, it’s quite intense. I have always felt sort of a weird connection with that war, as though it somehow defined the world in which I grew up. I guess it did. My dad was serving in Vietnam when I was born, and in many ways, it didn’t seem over. I remember the Vietnam vets and the controversy over the Vietnam Memorial. It was as I was growing up that artistic media like movies and TV seemed to be exploring the war for the first time. The book is so fantastic that I really wish I had a book club to discuss it with. I wonder if I can convince my book club to read it. I did talk them into reading Wolf Hall, and I’m not sure I get two turns in a row, or that folks will want to read two historical fiction novels in a row. The Lotus Eaters is reminding me a lot of Hemingway—not so much stylistically, but perhaps the poetic way in which Soli describes war. If any characters might see poetry in that situation, it might be combat photographers. I don’t know.

The journalists were in a questionable fraternity while out in the field, squabbling and arguing among themselves, each sensing the unease of the situation. No getting around the ghoulishness of pouncing on tragedy with hungry eyes, snatching it away, glorying in its taking even among the most sympathetic: “I got an incredible shot of a dead soldier/woman/child. A real tearjerker.” Afterward, film shot, they sat on the returning plane with a kind of postcoital shame, turning away from each other.

In terms of the present moment, they were despicable to the soldiers, to the victims, to even themselves. In the face of real tragedy, they were unreal, vultures; they were all about getting product. In their worst moments, each of them feared being a kind of macabre Hollywood, and it was only in terms of the future that they regained their dignity, became dubious heroes. The moment ended, about to be lost, but the one who captured it on film gave both subject and photographer a kind of disposable immortality. (111)

 

Pictures could not be accessories to the story—evidence—they had to contain the story within the frame; the best picture contained a whole war within one frame. (118)

Exquisite.

So that was my reading week. How was yours?

The Sunday Post is a weekly meme hosted by Caffeinated Book Reviewer. It’s a chance to share news, recap the past week on your blog, and showcase books and things we have received. See rules here: Sunday Post Meme.

Sunday Post #8: Reading Challenges Update

Sunday PostMarch 1 seems like a good time to reflect on how I’m doing with the various reading challenges I’ve taken on this year. As of today, I’ve completed nine books. The goal of the Outdo Yourself Challenge is to read more than the previous year. So far, I’m on track with that challenge. I don’t think I have ever been in the position of having read nine books at the beginning of March before.

I’ve read four books for the Historical Fiction Challenge: Bring Up the Bodies, Hilary Mantel; The Wolves of Andover aka The Traitor’s Wife, Kathleen Kent; The Fiery Cross, Diana Gabaldon; and The Serpent of Venice, Christopher Moore. I committed to reading ten historical fiction books for the challenge. I’m currently reading The Lotus Eaters by Tatjana Soli. I’m only a little over two chapters into it, but wow, what a beautifully written, gripping read so far. I have to read it in small sips, put it down and think about it, and plunge in again when I’m ready. I got a pencil and went back over the two chapters I had finished and underlined my favorite parts.The Lotus Eaters

This is how the world ends in one instant and begins again in the next.

It seems early days to be predicting this will be my favorite read of the year, but perhaps not. It is gorgeous so far.

I’ve read three books for the Reading England Challenge:

I committed to reading twelve books for this challenge.

The Literary Movement Challenge involves reading at least one book a month for that month’s movement. So far, I’ve read one selection each for the Middle Ages and for the Renaissance: The Lais of Marie de France and As You Like It by William Shakespeare. I committed to reading twelve books.

The Back to the Classics Challenge involves reading classic selections from various categories. I committed to nine books and have read two:

This week I posted reviews for As You Like It by William Shakespeare and The Tell-Tale Heart by Jill Dawson. I am about an hour away from finishing Neil Gaiman’s Trigger Warning.

One last glimpse of The Lotus Eaters before I go.

The Lotus Eaters

 

Sunday Post #7: Forest and Fen

Sunday PostI finished up two books this week, but I am waiting to review both of them. The first is William Shakespeare’s As You Like It, which I had never read before, but had decided to read way back when I read A Year in the Life of William Shakespeare: 1599 (review). It was during that year that Shakespeare wrote As You Like It. I liked it, though not as much as some of Shakespeare’s other plays, but I wanted to watch a movie version of it so I could review both the play and the movie version together. Unfortunately, Netflix is being extremely slow about sending it along.

The other book I finished just today is The Tell-Tale Heart by Jill Dawson. I am reviewing this book as part of a TLC Book Tour this coming Friday. The book has an interesting premise regarding the after-effects of a heart transplant, and it did get me thinking quite a bit, but more on that this Friday.

Both books allowed me to explore two counties in the Reading England Challenge. The Forest of Arden in As You Like It was in Shakespeare’s own home county of Warwickshire. Sadly, I discovered, not much of it remains aside from a few very old trees. The Tell-Tale Heart is set in some smaller towns around Cambridge in the Fens in Cambridgeshire. Both books relied a great deal on setting in the stories to the extent that moving them might change the story quite a bit, especially in The Tell-Tale Heart.

I am still reading Antonia Fraser’s biography of Marie Antoinette and Neil Gaiman’s Trigger Warning. I will probably take up a new paperback today since Marie Antoinette is on the Kindle and Trigger Warning is an audio book. Some weeks ago, I was feeling in the mood for The Lotus Eaters by Tatjana Soli. My dad was serving in Vietnam when I was born. He left when my mother was, I think, about six months pregnant with me. I don’t think I’ve ever read anything set there. I have several students from Vietnam. Last year, one of my Vietnamese students used to have really interesting conversations with me about the differences between our countries.

I am still waiting for The Painted Girls by Cathy Marie Buchanan and I Always Loved You by Robin Oliveira to arrive in the mail, though I’m really looking forward to reading those books. I did order them from third-party sellers, so shipping is not the quick Prime shipping I’m used to from Amazon. I think I have decided to read Hilary Mantel’s massive French Revolution novel A Place of Greater Safety as well. I am not sure when I’ll get to that one, but I’ve been thinking about it quite a bit. I’ll likely get that on the Kindle so I don’t have to try to hold it up.

In case you missed it, I posted my review for Christopher Moore’s novel The Serpent of Venice this week. I haven’t written any other reviews this week, nor have I started other books.

Given how much snow we’ve had, I suppose it’s logical that I have been able to do so much reading. I think I’ve read more so far this year than I can remember reading in the same time period… ever. Also, my kitchen scale broke, which is a necessity for soapmaking, so I wasn’t able to make soap this weekend either. It’s sad because I have a few wholesale orders and a custom request as well as some spring soaps I want to make up. It will have to wait!

In other bookish news, I have a book club! I am an idiot and somehow missed the memo about the book we were supposed to read until it was too late for me to finish before the meeting, but I did go, and we did talk about the book, and it was wonderful. For the record, the book I was supposed to read (which is on my list, though I didn’t get to it this time) was All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr. We are reading Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel for next time, so I should be in good shape for that meeting at least.

The Sunday Post is a weekly meme hosted by Caffeinated Book Reviewer. It’s a chance to share news, recap the past week on your blog, and showcase books and things we have received. See rules here: Sunday Post Meme.

Sunday Post #5: History Makers

Sunday PostSince last week, when I mentioned that we have all the snow, I can tell you we probably have five feet on the ground with more on the way tonight and tomorrow. My children have yet another snow day tomorrow. My own school just called me to let me know I also do not have school; however, I do believe I have a meeting via Google Hangout, and I need to make some soap for a wholesale account, so I imagine I will be busy. We have had record-breaking snowfall the last few weeks.  The Sunday Post is starting to sound monotonous with the weather report each time. When you’re more or less snowbound, however, there’s not much else going on.

I finally finished listening to the audio book of Diana Gabaldon’s novel The Fiery Cross this week. I also finished reading The Serpent of Venice by Christopher Moore. Look for the review for that book to be posted on 2/17. I started reading four books this week as well:

The Tell-Tale Heart, like The Serpent of Venice, is part of a TLC Book Tour. I’m reading As You Like It as my Renaissance selection for the Literary Movement Challenge. Finished Act I as of yesterday. I am listening to Neil Gaiman read the short story collection Trigger Warning. After finishing The Fiery Cross, I didn’t want to dive right into another really long Gabaldon audio book right away. I have had Marie Antoinette: The Journey in my Kindle library for a very long time, but I finally decided to read it after watching the Kirsten Dunst film Marie Antoinette, which reminded me how fascinated I am by the French Revolution and all the history leading up to it.

The movie itself, I have to say, was kind of weird. The costumes and sets were gorgeous. The music was strange. Some of the casting was bizarre. The jury’s still out on whether I liked it or not. I searched in vain for a documentary about the French Revolution on Netflix last night, so I decided to start reading the book. Also on my list at some point is Simon Schama’s Citizens: A Chronicle of the French Revolution. I’m always on the lookout for good historical fiction set during this time period as well, so let me know if you know of anything. I have previously read Jennifer Donnelly’s Revolution (loved!), Michelle Moran’s Madame Tussaud, and Melanie Clegg’s The Secret Diary of a Princess. And of course, Charles Dickens’s A Tale of Two Cities. I can’t recall any others, so let me know what I’ve missed. I am not particularly more interested Ancien Régime versus post-Revolution or nobility versus Estates-General. I’m not picky.

I love reading historical fiction, which is one of the reasons I always try to participate in the Historical Fiction Reading Challenge, no matter how active I actually am in the challenge. If I had to peg my favorite periods, I would say 18th and 19th century America (particularly New England, but really, it’s all pretty interesting), the Middle Ages, the Renaissance, 18th century France and England, and 19th century England. I do not much like to read WWII historical fiction, which reminds me of a post of Stefanie’s that I read over at So Many Books: “Books I Won’t Read.” I am not going to go quite so far as to say I will not read books about World War II. I really hesitate, though. I find it mentally exhausting and very depressing to read about that war, for obvious reasons. Inevitably, the books are heart-wrenching. I hate to say it feels like manipulation on the part of authors to write about the events of that war, especially when they really happened, but it’s also quite difficult to criticize. After all, anything you say in critique of books about the Holocaust just makes you sound heartless. So, I’m really careful about what I choose to read from that era. If a book has a whiff of cashing in on that tragedy at all, I can’t read it.

So far, I’ve finished seven books this year. I can’t recall ever having read that many at this point in the year. Honestly, I think the goal I set of reading 52 books has been a good motivator for me. I know I’m making more of an effort to read. I think of myself as a slow reader, but it looks like I have managed to pick up speed over time without noticing much. I very rarely can sit and read an entire book all day, and I haven’t tried timing myself to see how fast I’m actually reading. It’s more just a sense I have that I’m able to read books faster than I have in the past.

The biggest news in the book world this week is the impending publication of Harper Lee’s second novel, Go Set a Watchman, which will feature an adult Scout Finch. Some speculation in the media has made me wonder if Harper Lee was aware of what her lawyer was doing, but it’s hard to tell. This New York Times story does a fair job discussing the controversy. I am going to read the book. I have actually already selected it for my school summer reading choice. I called dibs the day the announcement was made. I am not going to miss another Harper Lee novel. Am I worried it might not be as good as To Kill a Mockingbird? Of course. It’s natural. But there is no way I’m going to miss it. And while I’m on the subject, I wish Goodreads would stop people from reviewing or rating unreleased books. Or, to be more specific, unreleased books that no one has read yet. I actually find ratings and reviews from folks who had uncorrected proofs or early access through other channels helpful. This book already has a 3.72 rating on Goodreads. Come on.

The Sunday Post is a weekly meme hosted by Caffeinated Book Reviewer. It’s a chance to share news, recap the past week on your blog, and showcase books and things we have received. See rules here: Sunday Post Meme.