Reading Update: March 13, 2011

Springtime novel reading

Last night I finished John Crowley’s Lord Byron’s Novel: The Evening Land. Hope you enjoyed my review. I am glad to be finished. No matter how much I enjoy a book or, conversely, dislike it, I’m always happy to be finished. It means I can start a new book. The one I’ve chosen to read is Water for Elephants. I want to read it before I see the movie, for one thing, and for another, a friend recommended it to me some time ago. In addition, it qualifies for the LibraryThing Pick Challenge as part of the Take a Chance Challenge, as it’s one of the 25 Most Reviewed Books. I really have wanted to read it for a while, and with all these reasons to try, now seems like a good time.

Of course, I’m still plugging away at The Story of Britain by Rebecca Fraser. I am about to begin the Victorian era. Given that my Kindle reports I am 65% finished and I’m reaching 1837, I wonder if there are just a lot of notes in the back of the book, or if Fraser really will emphasize the 19th and 20th centuries that much over the rest of British history. I hope not. Not that they’re not important, but I like to see things a little more evenly divided.

I will be finished with Great Expectations soon, and it’s not much at all what I thought it would be. Not sure I chose wisely in reading it via DailyLit. Some books lend themselves better to piecemeal reading than others. I will also finish A Discovery of Witches fairly soon (I have 4 hours and 23 minutes left to listen to).

I hate Daylight Saving Time. For a couple of weeks, I’m going to feel off. No one has given me a satisfactory explanation why we still have this practice. Can’t we have a referendum? I can’t think of a soul who likes it.

Is spring bursting forth where you live? The Bradford Pear tree in my yard is full of white blooms, and it won’t be long before the rest of the flowering trees follow its lead.

P.S. Sorry Jenners. I can’t follow the directions. I linked up this announcement post instead of the review post I will do in the future. Can you delete it, or should I just not fret?

photo credit: Tjook

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Reading Update: September 25, 2010

The Kindle Gazer, after Lilla Cabot PerryI am falling behind in my Everything Austen Reading Challenge, everyone. I set aside The House of the Seven Gables for now. I might still dip into it a little bit here and there, but I really need to finish some of the Austen-related reading I committed to. To that end, I picked up Syrie James’s novel The Lost Memoirs of Jane Austen. I finished the R.I.P. Challenge at my commitment level (two books), so I am going to try to finish two more and meet the challenge level for Peril the First—four books. The two books I’ve chosen are Dracula, My Love, also by Syrie James, and Wuthering Bites, by Sarah Gray. Wuthering Bites is, of course, a mashup of Wuthering Heights and a vampire story. If you have read this blog for a while, you’ll recall Wuthering Heights is my favorite book, so it will be a test of my sense of humor to see how I deal with Heathcliff as a vampire, but then, if you think about it, it’s not much of a stretch.

I’ve added a new plugin that allows you to share your Twitter handle when you comment. There is a box beneath the text box for entering your comment that invites you to input your Twitter username. You don’t need to enter the URL for your profile, just your username. It should save the information and will work each time you comment unless you change your Twitter username. If you don’t have Twitter, you can safely ignore it. I thought it might be a fun way for commenters to discover great new Twitter feeds to follow. If you prefer not to put your Twitter username in the space, feel free to leave it blank.

So what are you reading? How are the reading challenges going?

photo credit: Mike Licht, NotionsCapital.com

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Booking Through Thursday: Current Reading

Lost in Literature

This week’s Booking Through Thursday asks readers what they’re currently reading and what they think of it. I posted a reading update just a few days ago, and nothing has really changed since my update. I’m still reading The Heretic’s Daughter, The House of Seven Gables, and Great Expectations. I haven’t started Jamaica Inn on audio yet.

However, I will say that while I find The Heretic’s Daughter interesting in its historical detail, and even a good and fair account of the Salem witch trials (at least the part of the book which I’ve read), it’s not grabbing me, and I am not itching to pick it up. I think it’s suffering unfairly from my just having finished The Hunger Games trilogy. That kind of action and edge-of-your-seat reading is rare—after all, the novels have rightly become a publishing phenomenon for that reason. I think I always knew The House of Seven Gables would be a slower read for me, and it’s not suffering from any discrepancy regarding my expectations.

What I’m more interested in talking about is the fact that I’m reading three or four books at the same time. I didn’t used to be the kind of person who could do that, or I suppose I should say I didn’t *think* I could, so I didn’t attempt it. However, I have discovered the ability to juggle several books at once in the last couple of years. It depends on the way I read. I usually have one book going in DailyLit, which is very slow going with just a five-minute portion of the book each day; however, I have managed to read five books in the last couple of years in this way, and I think at least three of them, I never would have finished had I tried to read them any other way. I usually try to have an audio book going, too. Aside from that, I’ve discovered I can read two other books either in print or on my Kindle. But four seems to be my max, and I can only read four if two are in some format aside from print/e-book.

It turns out NPR’s Talk of the Nation recently ran a story about folks who read more than one book at a time. The story calls them polyreaders. Interestingly, the story mentions that some folks frown on reading more than one book at a time. I found that curious because I have never met anyone who frowned on the practice. Have you? It seems a strange thing to be disdainful about!

What do you do? Do you read one book at a time or several at once? Why?

photo credit: truds09

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Reading Update: September 20, 2010

On the platform, reading

Friday was my birthday, and my parents usually send me a book gift card. The last few years, it’s been an Amazon card because I can get books shipped for free. An added bonus this year is that I can buy books for my Kindle instead. I haven’t spent all of it, but here is my haul to date:

I have been wanting a NKJV Bible for some time, and reviewers gave high marks to this study Bible. I think I will like having the annotations, and the NKJV is my favorite translation. Passion is the story of the Romantic poets Byron, Shelley, and Keats told through the point of view of the women who loved them. That sounds absolutely fascinating to me. From Slave Ship to Freedom Road is a children’s book by Julius Lester. The artwork is superb, and it tells the story of slavery like no other book I’ve read. I have actually used it with my students before and since I’m teaching American literature again, I decided to pick it up. Dracula, My Love is a new novel by Syrie James, whose previous work I have really enjoyed. As a bonus, I can read Dracula, My Love for the R.I.P. Challenge if I finish The Heretic’s Daughter and have time for more books—and I don’t see why I shouldn’t, as it’s not even October, and I’m nearly halfway finished with that book.

Wuthering BitesI’ve started Jamaica Inn on audio, or rather I will when I catch up on my podcasts. That book, too, can be counted as an R.I.P. Challenge book, and then I will have four, which means I can move up a level in commitment. Of course, my department chair also gave me Wuthering Bites, the latest mashup novel in the tradition of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters, and Jane Slayre. Heathcliff is supposed to be a vampire, which makes a lot of sense if you think about it. OK, I admit it looks good. We’ll have to see if my sense of humor can handle mocking my favorite book.

This week is the Jewish holiday of Sukkot, and as I work in a Jewish school, I have a half day on Wednesday and no school Thursday and Friday. I am excited to have some time to read. The first draft of my portfolio for grad school is finished, so I am not anticipating a ton of grad school work to impede my enjoyment of half a week off. I plan to spend the time reading.

Amazon sent me my replacement Kindle, I’ve sent the broken one back, and the new one is already up and running and loaded with good reads. What are you reading?

photo credit: Mo Riza

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Reading Update: September 11, 2010

TeaIt feels each day like fall is just around the corner. Fall makes me think of tea. I truly wish we had a little tea place like this, where I had a great pot of tea several years ago. We have a few branches of Teavana, but none close by (that I know of) have a little place to sit. Sort of like Starbucks, but for tea. Because Starbucks’ tea is only OK.

What goes with a great cup of tea? Books, of course! So I finished The Hunger Games series, and am currently experiencing the withdrawal symptoms that go with finishing the last book and wishing it wasn’t the last book. I did pick up The Heretic’s Daughter, and so far it’s fine, but it doesn’t have me by the hair yet.

I had to abandon American Music. It has some great reviews on Amazon, but it looks like some of the folks on Goodreads were in agreement with me. It sounds like an interesting premise, but I just wasn’t interested, and I decided not to spend any more time on it. I realized I needed to just stop listening to the book in the car when I was trying to find other things to do—listen to all of my podcasts and music—rather than listen to it. It might be better to actually read rather than listen to, but at any rate, I don’t think it’s for me. When I decided to stop listening to it, it was sitting on about two stars for me, and life is growing too short to spend on two-star books. So I am listening to Persuasion, and Juliet Stevenson is a brilliant narrator. I love her characterization of Sir Walter Eliot. Plus it’s part of my Everything Austen II Challenge, and since I feel behind on that one, I need to give it some attention.

I have what I think is a pretty good idea for a reading challenge in 2011, but I’m keeping quiet about it for the time being.

Now I’m going to go fix a cup of tea and work on my portfolio a little while before I read. How are you spending the weekend? And what are you reading?

photo credit: Prakhar Amba

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Reading Update: August 29, 2010

Reading a book at the beachI set aside Syrie James’s The Lost Memoirs of Jane Austen, which I am reading as part of the Everything Austen Challenge, because everyone I know is reading Suzanne Collins’s Mockingjay, and I hadn’t even read The Hunger Games. Well, I’m about 200 pages in now, after borrowing it from a friend, and I have to say it’s real page-turner. I have been trying to talk my daughter into reading it because Collins’s writing style actually reminds me of Sarah’s. I think Sarah would like it. I might finish it today (after all, I read more than the amount of pages I have left yesterday). If so, I’ll post a review later.

I do have a couple of theories that I can’t wait to discover whether or not I’m correct about. District 13, believed to be destroyed by the Capitol, reminds me of the group of readers in Fahrenheit 451, and I am wondering if they’re not really destroyed but secretly carrying on some form of resistance. Don’t tell me! I want to find out. Also, it’s obvious to me that the Romeo and Juliet move that Peeta pulled is no act, whatever Katniss has decided to believe. But I guess I’ll find that out.

I am still reading David Copperfield on DailyLit. The infamous Miss Havisham has just been mentioned for the first time. I picked up Jane Mendelsohn’s American Music at Audible after hearing Mendelsohn interviewed by Valerie Jackson on Between the Lines. The book sounded interesting. After listening for a short time, I think I would have put the second chapter of the book first. It seems a little disjointed. But I haven’t been listening long, so we’ll see. It is short for an audio book. Of course, Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The House of Seven Gables is still on my Kindle, though I haven’t even finished chapter 2 yet. I bought The Heretic’s Daughter by Kathleen Kent and Juliet by Anne Fortier on the Kindle with my Amazon Associates gift card. Also subscribed to The New Yorker on Kindle. I’ll let you know how it is. It’s my first Kindle magazine subscription.

What are you reading?

photo credit: Simon Cocks

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Reading Update: August 15, 2010

ReadingHello all. I have been lax about my blogging schedule this week as I returned to work for pre-planning. The first day of school is tomorrow. The day I stop being excited and nervous about the first day is probably the day I should retire. We have had intermittent Internet connection problems here at the Huff casa, and I’m pretty sure it’s either our cable company or our cable modem, but I have to grab time to do my work and to write here and elsewhere when it’s available.

I’m still reading The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane by Katherine Howe, but I’m approaching the end. I might finish it today if I get the chance to sit down and read, but I also have some planning to do for school, so I’m not sure. I’m looking for good witchy book recommendations if you have any.

I finished A Farewell to Arms yesterday. Shelfari tells me that was my 23rd book this year, which makes me really happy because I only read 23 total for the entire year of 2009. It looks like 2010 should be better. My review of Georgette Heyer’s Regency romance Charity Girl will be up at Austenprose toward the end of August, and once it appears, I’ll review it here, too.

I have had a few friends ask me about reading because I use Goodreads to post updates, and those updates appear on both Twitter and Facebook. One friend asked me how many books I usually read at the same time. I usually have three going. I have one on the Kindle, one on DailyLit, and one other book either on the Kindle or paperback/hardcover. I like to have choices so that if I’m feeling like switching things up, I can. I read the DailyLit selection each day whenever I can get the chance. The other two, I switch between. I did not used to be able to read more than one book at a time. I’m not sure why that changed. I have to say I feel tremendous pressure to read as many books as I can because I’m conscious I have a limited amount of time on earth. It’s probably morbid thinking, but it compels me to keep going.

I picked up The House of Seven Gables by Nathaniel Hawthorne on my Kindle. I haven’t quite started it yet.

So what are you reading?

photo credit: Wiertz Sébastien

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Reading Update: August 8, 2010

HatsI’m still reading books set in Salem. After finishing Brunonia Barry’s The Map of True Places and The Lace Reader, I returned to Katherine Howe’s The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane, although this book is set more in Marblehead than Salem, it does have some scenes in Salem. I think my favorite thing about Salem was just walking around and looking at everything. It truly is a unique town, and I do hope I have the opportunity to go back.

In addition to The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane, I’ve begun a new DailyLit selection: Charles Dickens’s Great Expectations. I haven’t read this one. I know, I know. Well, it sure starts off with a bang! Dickens was a master of characterization.

I am still reading just finished Charity Girl. I believe I’ll be finished with that one in a day or two, but my review will not appear here until the day it is published at Austenprose.

I am now about halfway through A Farewell to Arms. At this point, Catherine is pregnant, and Henry is going back to the front. I am wondering what is going to happen. I know the ending of this book. Years of being an English teacher have spoiled that plot, but I still wonder how we will get from here to there, and I wonder what will happen in between. I also found myself looking up “jaundice” on Wikipedia to see if it can be caused by alcoholism, and it looks like it can. Hemingway’s economy with words is beautiful in its simplicity. He still manages to capture so much with so little.

I’ve been trying to decide what I should read next. I’m still on this Salem kick, so I might read The Heretic’s Daughter, but I think I will scout around. Has anyone read Practical Magic by Alice Hoffman? I was going to swear off Hoffman after her Twitter rant last year, but this book looks interesting to me.

On a side note, Apture, the tool I use to create links on this site, appears to be broken at the moment, so the links might not pop up as enhanced links the way they usually do. And this post took twice as long to write as it would have with Apture. Hope they fix it soon!

photo credit: danahuff

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Reading Update: August 2, 2010

Finished scarfAfter finishing The Map of True Places, I decided to re-read The Lace Reader. I won’t give away the spoilery ending, but I will say that The Lace Reader is an interesting and different book on a re-read after the reader knows how it ends. I had forgotten that Ann Chase, who appears in The Map of True Places, was also in this book, but when she mentions being friends with Towner Whitney, I looked it up and discovered she had indeed been a character. She is such a fun character and so well drawn. It would be interesting for Barry to give her a story in which she takes center stage. Barry casts Ann Chase as a descendant of Giles and Martha Corey, which isn’t possible because they had no children together. I don’t know if it’s a mistake, poetic license, or Towner’s error. It might have been fun to cast Ann as a descendant of John and Elizabeth Proctor—perhaps even the baby Elizabeth was carrying that saved her life until the hysteria died down. Lace reading is one of those things that sounds so true it’s a bit of a surprise to learn that Brunonia Barry invented it. I’ll bet it has some practitioners now. At any rate, I think I’m actually enjoying this novel more on a re-read than I did the first time around, perhaps because I recently visited the novel’s setting or perhaps because I’m reading it with different eyes knowing the ending. Either way, I’m turning the pages. I was pleasantly surprised to discover that Barry signed my paperback copies of The Lace Reader in addition to my copies of The Map of True Places. I won two copies of each book as part of my prize package. I’m on about page 60, but will probably read some more before I call it night.

Aside from The Lace Reader, I’m also reading Georgette Heyer’s Charity Girl for Austenprose’s Celebration of Georgette Heyer. It’s a quick read, but I have to admit that the Regency slang is hard for me to navigate. I have had to use the dictionary a lot (thank goodness I’m reading it on my Kindle, so that’s easy). I have a quibble with the Kindle edition, however. Many of the words are broken up (i.e. to gether) and the paragraphs are formatted wrong. No indentation at the beginning of a new one and little indication of a new paragraph. It’s been maddening to read from an aesthetic viewpoint. I think I’ll finish it quickly. I’m 46% done now.

I am also reading Ernest Hemingway’s A Farewell to Arms, which I have never read. I am teaching American literature again this year, and it’s the only required book for summer reading. The other books are choice books. Because we are supposed to teach the required book as our first unit, I need to read it. It’s not bad, but it’s not really what I want to read right now in my current frame of mind, so I’ve not got too far. I’m also reading it on the Kindle, and I’m 12% finished.

So what are you reading? Is it good?

photo credit: Maria Keays

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Well Read. tee-shirt on sale at the Decatur Book Festival, September 2009

Reading Update: July 1, 2010

Well Read. tee-shirt on sale at the Decatur Book Festival, September 2009I am in the midst of reading three books at the moment: Gulliver’s Travels via DailyLit, The Meaning of Night by Michael Cox (paperback), and The Three Weissmanns of Westport (Kindle).

As of today, I have read 80 of 115 sections via email of Gulliver’s Travels. My verdict so far: I am ready to be finished with it. My favorite part has been Gulliver’s stay in Brobdingnag, which might change before I finish the book. As I read, I find myself annoyed with Gulliver for repeatedly abandoning his family on what look like frivolous voyages to me. If I were his wife, I’d have divorced him.

The Meaning of Night is taking me some time to get into. I’m currently on p. 244 out of about 700. I am being patient because my husband says it’s really good, but it hasn’t grabbed my interest yet. My husband keeps saying it will, and he rarely gushes about books. I don’t think I can give the book too much longer or I will have given it too much for too little return. It does have a good atmosphere, and the author captures Victorian England well.

The Three Weissmanns of Westport is indeed Sense and Sensibility set in modern Westport, CT and New York. I like it so far. It’s full of modern pop culture references (Gawker, Oprah, subtle shades of James Frey). I’m not sure how well it will stand the test of time as a result. I think the author does more telling rather than showing, but I’m entertained and intrigued enough to finish. I’m 41% finished with it. I’m reading it for the Everything Austen Challenge.

What are you reading? What do you think of it?

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