Showing posts from December, 2016

Dreams & Goals for 2017

Every year is another chance to look back, figure out what went well and what didn't, and think of ways to make the next year even better.  I call my list "dreams and goals," instead of "resolutions."  What I've discovered, especially this past year, is that you don't know what unexpected opportunities may pop up or how you will change as a person.  It's good to dream and plan, and it's also healthy to let yourself be flexible and spontaneous.

A few dreams / goals I met in 2016:
Read 25 books.  Some of them were short, and one or two of them were quite long (I'm looking at you, Mack).  It felt great to make a dent in that TBR list!Take photos.  I started learning about photography in earnest.  Will continue this one in 2017.Love my neighbors.  That is, I tried to love the people with whom I interacted in "real life" and online.  As we all have experienced, it's been a contentious year.  More than ever I realized the struggle - an…

The Chronological Sherlock Holmes Challenge: Full schedule

In the interests of planning ahead, I thought it might be a good idea to go ahead and post the full schedule for the challenge.  Let me know if you see any typos.
There will be weekly check-in posts for each short story, and one post for each 3-week novel.All book formats are welcome (audiobooks, ebooks, translations, etc.) Feel free to drop in at any time!  No blog posts required.  :)Click on any story to go to the check-in post for that week.

Week 1  (Jan 1-7):  "The Gloria Scott"
Week 2:"The Musgrave Ritual"
Week 3:A Study in Scarlet
Week 4:A Study in Scarlet
Week 5 (Jan 29-Feb 4):  A Study in Scarlet.  (Finish by February 4th.)

Week 6 (Feb 5-11):  "The Speckled Band"
Week 7:"The Yellow Face"
Week 8:"The Red Circle"
Week 9 (Feb 26-Mar 4):  "The Beryl Coronet"

Week 10 (Mar 5-11):  "The Resident Patient"
Week 11:"The Reigate Squires"
Week 12:"The Second Stain"
Week 13 (Mar 26-Apr 1):  &quo…

Top Ten Books of 2016

This week's topic is the Top Ten Best Books of 2016, from The Broke and the Bookish.

My top ten, in approximate order of reading (oldest to most recent):

Works of Love - Soren KierkegaardIn the Land of White Death - Valerian AlbanovNot Forgotten: The True Story of My Imprisonment in North Korea - Kenneth Bae.  Reading this memoir filled in the blanks of the story of someone who'd been on my prayer list for a long time.  It also shows an emotional, yet undramatized picture of the North Korean people as Bae encountered them.  Despite the fear, guilt, and uncertainty that Bae experienced in his imprisonment, you find a greater sense of hope, for him and for the North Koreans.  I also strongly recommend Jeffrey Donenfeld's blog post Exploring North Korea and Running the Pyongyang Marathon, either by itself or as a companion to this book.  Donenfeld's post and photos give you a poignant context to North Korea as it was just after Kenneth Bae was released.The Man Who Was Thurs…

The Forest Giant (Le Gigantesque)

Since watching Lawrence of Arabia last year, I've been actively seeking books written by or related to T. E. LawrenceThe Forest Giant, by Adrien Le Corbeau, is one of the more obscure books.
Lawrence, for the most part, withdrew from politics after the disappointing Paris Peace Conference.  However, he continued to write books and critique literature - writing was one of the few pieces of his past life that he actually still valued.  His French-to-English translation of a book called Le Gigantesque was published in 1924, and along with Homer's The Odyssey, it is one of the few of his written works that are non-autobiographical.

I seem to recall The Forest Giant has been referred to as a "novel," but it is really a philosophical ramble.  The "giant" referred to is the California redwood, and Corbeau explains his thoughts and questions through the journey of the tree's life.  Lawrence was enthusiastic at the beginning of the book, but by the end of his …

Russian Literature Challenge 2017

Ok - I saw this challenge, hosted by Keely, and decided it was irresistible.  In 2014 I participated in o's Russian Literature challenge, which was awesome, so I'm more than ready for another Russian lit focus!

I'll be aiming for a large Level 2 "Chekhov"; these six books:

Forever Flowing - Vasily Grossman.  I heard about Grossman from one of my favorite book bloggers, SRK, and this sounds like a really good novel.The Letter Killers Club - Sigizmund Krzhizhanovsky.I loved this author's writing style in Memories of the Future.  This book is about a club of story tellers who are committed to writing nothing down.  Cancer Ward - Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn.  This book has been sitting on my shelf for a while, a Powell's splurge.  The Soviet era interests me, for academic and personal reasons, and I'm eager to read more by Solzhenitsyn, since he is one of the most famous Soviet authors.Five Plays - Anton Chekhov.  One by the man himself!  I haven't read any …

2017 Mount TBR Challenge

This year, I had fun tackling books that had been on my TBR mountain for a while, so I want to do it again in 2017.  Again, it'll be Pike's Peak (12 books) for me, which really is a challenge.  This is my list as of today, subject to change if I happen to acquire more books this month...
Till We Have Faces - C. S. LewisThe Children of Hurin - J. R. R. Tolkien✓  (My siblings bought me this book when it was practically fresh off the printing press in 2008, and I'm sorry to say I've been procrastinating mightily.  No more!)The Buried Giant - Kazuo Ishiguro✓ (did not finish)The Begum's Millions - Jules VerneNostromo - Joseph ConradFelix Mendelssohn: A Life in LettersThe Twentieth Century - Albert RobidaCancer Ward - Aleksandr SolzhenitsynFrankenstein - Mary ShelleyPeter Pan - J. M. BarrieRecollections of Japan - Hendrik DoeffHighlands and Hollows - Dallas Lore SharpStar Trek: Federation - Judith and Garfield Reeves-StevensOptional/alternative:  The Count of Monte Cr…

The Chronological Sherlock Holmes Challenge

12/29/16 edit: Full schedule here.

Two years ago, I started on a rereading of the Sherlock Holmes series, with the intent of reading the stories in the approximate order that they occur in Holmes's lifetime.  I didn't get very far, but I never abandoned the concept.  It's been about ten years since I first read the complete Sherlock Holmes, and he is my favorite fictional character.  It's time to get serious about this overdue challenge!

So - I'm revamping it in under the wordy title of "The Chronological Sherlock Holmes Challenge," 2017-2018 edition.  This is a 16-month mission to read all 56 short stories and the four novels.  Of course, the series could be easily read in half a year, but I want to take my time, blog about each tale, and leave room for other reading, too.  If anyone wants to join, I'd love to share the discussion!

The idea is:
Read the stories in the order found on this Sherlock Holmes Timeline...with one exception.  I really can't…

Mount TBR 2016 - Recap

For this recap, something a little different.  I was mighty pleased with the little mountain of to-be-reads I climbed, so everyone's a winner - and they all get awards!  Thanks to Bev for hosting this challenge!

*** The Unexpected New Favorite Award *** An Artist of the Floating World - Kazuo Ishiguro
This was a thrift store find I bought on a whim.  I was greatly moved by this fictional historical memoir, written by Ishiguro (of The Remains of the Day fame).  An aging Japanese man realizes his past is not creating the bright legacy he had envisioned.  Subtly written, yet incredible.
*** The Finally, Finally Read It Award *** The Red Badge of Courage - Stephen Crane
I liked the beginning of this book a lot.  That made the ending somewhat disappointing.  However, I had to admit it is a worthy American classic, with good writing and thought-provoking scenes.
*** The History Is Disturbing Award *** Evita: The Real Life of Eva Peron - Nicholas Fraser, Marysa Navarro
This is supposedly the bes…

Reading England 2016 - Recap

When I joined this challenge a year ago, I had every intention of branching out and reading books from multiple counties.  As it turns out, I stayed in familiar territory and read London for all three books (Level 1).

The Mint was a fitting sequel to Seven Pillars of Wisdom.  For some reason I went into it expecting a novel, but it's actually a journal-like memoir of T. E. Lawrence's peacetime experiences in the military.  After his campaigns as "Lawrence of Arabia" - and, as importantly, after his attempts to deal with politicians - T.E. was sick of being a leader and wanted to disappear from the public eye.  He joined the service under an assumed name, and that is where he found a place of security and camaraderie, the R.A.F.  The Mint is a coarse novel, written in a modern voice (for the times) and full of all the profanities and vulgarity that Lawrence encountered around him.  I found myself unable to rate the book, because it came across as an honest, unidealized…