2015 Year in Review

I had many reading resolutions for 2015. Some I completed and others faded but were not forgotten even if I never returned to finish them. First, I accomplished my goal of 50 books read for 2015. It was an amazing feet for me. I think back to the little girl that struggled with speaking, reading, and writing. Now, she is creating, and sharing her love of books.

Another thing I hold up to show off is my Goodread’s to-read shelf. I think I started 2015 with 70 or more books I hoped to read and now that number is down to 64. It may not seem like a big accomplishment but that number was a struggle to accomplished. Working in a bookstore I see so many titles I would like to read and they are easily added. I tried to be more selective and read some books right away instead of putting them on the list.

I read more titles from the floor I work on to better recommend books to customers but my Classics Challenge fell short. I took on the task to read one classic a month and only read six books. Five I even reviewed on this blog. I realize there are just too many books in the world I need to read. One more thing, the writing fell short. I didn’t keep up with the blog schedule I put forth and even behind the scenes I was unable to cut out time. All completely my fault. Exhaustion, stress, laziness, work and plans won most of my time.

After all that how do I make the up and coming 2016 better. Keep reading, keep fighting the procrastination writing fight, and be a little more forgiving of oneself. I signed up for the Goodread’s challenge again and hope to read another 50 books in 2016.

Neil Gaiman wrote, “May your coming year be filled with magic and dreams and good madness. I hope you read some fine books and kiss someone who thinks you’re wonderful, and don’t forget to make some art — write or draw or build or sing or live as only you can. And I hope, somewhere in the next year, you surprise yourself.”

I now hope to surprise myself.

Happy and Healthy New Year to everyone!

 

Classic Number Three: Northanger Abbey

I decided to read Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen for my March classic. I have mentioned before that I did try to read Austen’s Persuasion last month and felt I wasn’t in the mood, I tried again and again I wasn’t in the mood. I realized I never read Austen’s Abbey and needed a short classic since time was running out. I started reading this classic and was captured. As Austen mentions in the beginning of the novel the main character Catherine is not your normal heroine since she is an impressionable, trusting young woman but she grows and learns. By the end Catherine is a strong, classic, and a lead in the wheel house with others Austen famous heroines.

I must say I liked this novel. This classic novel is Austen’s Gothic parody. Catherine’s love for reading the genre and over active imagination adds humor to the novel. There is a great scene where Catherine is snooping and unlocks a mysterious cabinet expecting to find something horrible, and finds only laundry bills. You feel embarrass for her naivety but she has to fall a few more times before she learns to control her imagination. Northanger Abbey also deals with situations common to teenagers today. Catherine learns lessons about peer pressure, bullying, and reading people. I was angry by the Thorpe’s manipulative, and ambitious ways but, by the end of the novel, Catherine learns to read people and can move on into her happy ending wiser.

Favorite Quote: “The person, be it gentleman or lady, who has not the pleasure in a good novel, must be intolerably stupid.”

Classic Number Two: Little Women

I vaguely remember the basement in the house I grew up in before it was refinished. It was dark gray cinderblock walls with workbenches, boxes, and wooden closets with canned goods. During the clean up I remember one of the boxes had books. I felt awe. I was young and seeing books that thick with tiny print amazed me. I was only allowed to pick one book from the box and I picked, Little Women by Louise May Alcott. I thought it would be about tiny women living in a big world (forgive my naivety, I was really young). I finally decided to read it because this pretty book has sat on my shelf too long. I didn’t read it all the time since the 1922 edition is fragile with a worn binding.

I didn’t love Little Women. It was a very moral based read and could be slow at times. Each chapter could stand on it’s own with a lesson learned. Now days a woman doesn’t need a good marriage to reach true happiness but it was a different time when this story was written and many lessons, like not allowing money to control you, can still apply today. Some chapters I enjoyed more than others. There wasn’t much excitement or enthusiasm behind most life events. Maybe this style or writing is what left me less emotionally attached to the four sisters. If I only read the Little Women portion of the book I may have given it four stars on my Goodreads account but I must say I was surprised when what I expected to happen didn’t.

I learned, when published, part two was a second book, Good Wives, which continues their story and this is where I struggled. The second half is where the story considerably slows downs. I can’t put my finger on what changed. Everything just seemed more mundane. The interesting bits of their lives are farther apart and gets buried. If I was going to rate this portion of the book separately I would give Part two, two stars.

I rated the book three stars out of five stars. If I ever come back to this classic I will not continue past part one.

Little Women 1922 Little, Brown, and Company Edition.

Stacking Reading Goals

I’m worried I created to many reading goals for the new year. I challenged myself to read 50 books with 12 of them being classics. I tried to promise myself I wouldn’t buy anymore books until I read some of the unread ones I already own. Also, I hope to decrease the number on my Goodreads’ to-read list. While, these can all fit nicely into the read 50 books challenge, I’m finding the classics can be dense and daunting. I thought I would read Jane Austen’s Persuasion this month but switch to Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women. I didn’t feel I had the right mood for Persuasion. I want to complete my one classic novel a month goal but I do want to enjoy what I am reading. I do have many more opportunities to read this year with my hour commute to and from work. Just have to keep reading with the hope I lessen my pile of unread books, to-read titles, and classics collecting dust. I could be overreacting being only the second month and I’m seeing an overwhelming number of goals that seemed to fit together when I first made my list. Worst happens I don’t read 12 classics or reach my 50 books goal. I’ll know to lessen the reading goals next year. Maybe.

Classic Number One

The first classic I picked up for the 2015 Classic Challenge was picked with another classic in mind. I read The Time Machine in sixth grade and was thinking how I enjoyed it but how little I remembered of the classic. I decided it would be better to read something I hadn’t read before so instead of a repeat in the classic category I would stay with the author. The War of the World by H.G. Wells is a classic that has created a rememberable radio show and epic movies but as any creative work they are nothing like the book.

I was surprise when I learned this novel is a sharp satire about British Imperialism. There is a comparison Wells makes about not judging the Martians to harshly and remember how ruthless our own species have been. He mentions, “The Tasmanians, in spite of their human likeness, were entirely swept out of existence in a war of extermination waged by European immigrants.” It is a theme that never goes away. It will always remain a classic. It is surprising that a novel label Science fiction a hundred years ago now reads stockily realistic. Much of the Martian’s science, Heat Rays and Gas, that destroys Victoria England seem very real reading today.

If you decide to pick up this classic don’t expect an action sequence every few pages. Action is few and far between the narrator questioning the human race and the self.

Whisked Away But Not Wasted Time

Friday. What happen to the week? I can say I am not ready to post and I don’t have a topic this week. This week I haven’t been focused on writing as much as reading. I have had the goal to finish A Dance With Dragons (A Song Of Ice And Fire #5) by George R.R. Martin and just did today. I feel relieved to finally be done and caught up but whenever I end one of these books I’m left with a little anxiety over the cliff hangers. Grrr. But it was a good read and week even with the lack of writing.

With that over I want to move on to a lighter read so I have more time to write. This means next Friday won’t sneak up on me (I hope) and I’ll have a story to tell. Until then here is a quote I think fits me and this week:

“I love deadlines. I love the whooshing noise they make as they go by.” – Douglas Adams

Change dishes to writing and this was my week.

New Year Reading Resolutions

I don’t believe in New Year Resolutions. Resolutions have a tendency to not get done when made in the beginning of a new year. Either we give up or make them too big and overwhelming. If you are planning to do something you could do at anytime during the year then you don’t need a new year to prove or change anything. My only New Year Resolution this year are writing, travel, and to complete the Goodreads 2014 Reading Challenge. While I don’t have to worry about my writing or travel future (Montreal. YAY!), I do have to come to terms with my reading goal being less than last year. I have to keep reminding myself that I plan to read thicker books in 2014. I shocked myself with my completed books of 2013. My goal was forty five and I read forty six books! For me that’s a lot when I consider myself a slow reader. I had increased the number mid-year and in December I didn’t think I would finish but I did.

Maybe it’s cheating but I like starting low with the option to increase. A few books on my to-read list this year are A Dance with Dragons by George R.R. Martin, and Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell. I don’t know if I really want to ask this next question for fear of adding more books to my already too big to-read list but what do you hope to read in 2014? Do you have a reading number goal?

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Tea and Books.
Some books I read in 2013.

Literature Inspired Gifts

After the awesome mug I received for my birthday I decided to post a blog of some inspiring writing, reader, or author items. Some awesome literary themed things are from my own wish list. You may even find these great items can be gifts to that writer or reader friend/spouse/lova in your life.

Book Nerds may love this brass bracelet form etsy store, accessoreads. It’s the image of a vintage book shelf. No matter where you go you’ll have a library helping your style.

accessoreads Book Stack Cuff Bracelet

Next is a cover for an e-reader or table from GeekifyInc. It is leather, suede, wood, and metal. What I love about this cover is the title on the cover. The Neverending Story was not only an intriguing story but the cover doesn’t lie. All those stored reads on your table or e-reader really hold the neverending story supply.

The Neverending Story Cover from GeekifyInc.

Another favorite is the I Write canvas tote bag from BookFiend. Even though I’m not one to advertise that I like to write the vintage typewriter on the tote sells me on this bag.

I write. Canvas tote bag.

I know a lot of readers of my blog were loving my Write Drunk mug. I figured to add another little favorite of mine to this list. If you are a Harry Potter fan, this “Don’t Let The Muggles Get You Down” from AfternoonCoffee is the perfect mug. I see it for long days grinding away at a desk.

Don’t Let the Muggles Get you down.

Last but not least (I only say that because I can do a dozen of these blogs with literature themed fun stuff I don’t really need.) is this lithograph of The Last Unicorn by Peter S Beagle. A favorite book and movie has now become a favorite tote bag. Rachelle Meyer designed for Litograph this “The Last Unicorn” bag with the entire text and Unicorn design.  I’m in love.

The Last Unicorn Tote bag

At the End of Ocean Lane

I just finished reading The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman. It was a story that built up slowly then all of a sudden I was submerged. When it ended I couldn’t remember how to breathe. Then I sighed. The story really was like stepping into an ocean. With each step you get deeper and deeper and then there’s that sharp drop. But you’re not startled or afraid. It feels weird. I liked the strangeness.

Some of my favorite quotes:

“That’s the trouble with living things. Don’t last very long.”

“Nobody actually looks like what they really are on the inside. You don’t. I don’t. People are much more complicated than that. It’s true of everybody.”

“Different people remember things differently, and you’ll not get any two people to remember anything the same, whether they were there or not. You stand two of you lot next to each other, and you could be continents away for all it means anything.”

“You don’t pass or fail and being a person, dear.”

“Books were safer than other people anyway.”

“Grown-ups don’t look like grown-ups on the inside, either. Outside, they’re big and thoughtless and they always know what they’re doing. Inside, they look just like they always have. Like they did when they were your age. The truth is, there aren’t any grown-ups. Not one, in the whole wide world.”

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My Copy of The Ocean at the End of the Lane