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 Six: Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea

Still trying to read a classic a month and June’s read was Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea by Jules Verne. Published in 1869, it is astonishing the then future technology that was imagined in this Science-Fiction novel. It tells the story of Professor Aronnax after he, his servant Conseil, and Canadian whaler Ned Land wash up on Captain Nemo’s submarine the Nautilus. They embark on an underwater adventure that takes them around the world.

First off, while reading this, I had to keep reminding myself the technology thought up for this novel was ahead of it’s time. I did skim over some Verne’s extensive scientific descriptions but the action and plot were really riveting. There is a clear picture painted of this underwater world and I loved the descriptions of the life under the sea. The author leads his characters and the reader to the red corals of the Red Sea, lost shipwrecks from historic battles, and the discovery of Atlantis. And the pace of the story improves when the characters use diving suits to go pearl hunting and fight a giant squid. The biggest mystery is not in the depths of the ocean but the people themselves. The reader is the witness to the curious Captain Nemo’s decisions and it is only hinted at why the Captain choices to exile himself from the world. While I’m okay with the mystery of the Nemo’s past and motive, it does make you wonder about a man who will give a whole pouch of pearls to a poor Indian pearl diver but at the end destroy the lives of so many and leave his men up to a possible devastating fate.

I think this is a very worth wild read if you can get pasted the scientific jargon. It will not be a read for everyone but I am happy I read it.

Classic Number Five: The Stranger

I’m falling behind on the classic challenge. I started and finished my May pick, The Stranger by Albert Camus, late. I bought this book at The Last Bookstore while I was on vacation and I’m so glad I did. What a great read although like many classic it is not a fairy tale. There is no happily ever after. Many may find the first person narrative boring since the main character, Meursault, is indifferent to all that is happening around him. The book starts with Meursault at his mother’s funeral. He express no remorse, and returns home. I had trouble with this scene. I felt it exhibit the expectation of certain emotions from others in different situations. But as the story goes on he is unaffected by the neighbor who abuses his dog, or a woman. The day after the funeral he meets, Marie. They go swimming, go to a comedy film, and he lives the appearance of a normal life. He expresses no issue with helping write a letter for his other neighbor, Raymond, to a girl who did him wrong. This indirectly gets him involved with the girl’s Arab brother. After a confrontation where Raymond is cut with a knife they return to the house. Meursault goes back out for a walk and ends up killing the Arab.

Part two of the novel follows Meursault’s thoughts during the trail and sentencing. He is prosecuted more for his moral character than the murder. After the trail Meursault finally has a moment of clarity when a priest comes to help him find solace and save his soul but Meursault sees “the benign indifference of the universe” like himself. Neither he or the world doesn’t pass judgement. Everyone will die and he finds a kind of freedom in this fact.

I can see this being a tough read for some. It is hard to follow Meursault and his lack of emotions. Readers will forever try to figure him out. This read will help you understand existentialism and make you think about life and how you relate to everything around you.

Classic Number Four: The Wonderful Wizard of Oz

I decided to read The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum as my fourth classic after seeing the Supernatural: Slumber Party. While watching the episode and their darker take on this classic I realized I have never read the book. The episode does reference the books as well as the movie. I think it was when the character, Charlie played by Felicia Day, was gushing and defending this childhood classic that I decided I needed to read it.

I was delighted with the differences between the book and movie. The movie will forever be a classic in it’s own right but the book is a bigger adventure with Dorothy meeting and making even more friends. The flying monkeys aren’t as scary but become a companion. All the characters grow and while they are all on the same adventure they grow individually finding they had what they seek all along but needed some encouragement along the way. The difference I loved between the movie and book are the passage of time is in both worlds and that the shoes are silver in the book. Maybe because the movie made red shoes such a set thing in the Oz culture and made it appear in the movie that Dorothy’s adventure was just a dream.

I think what will always make this a classic is the need others will feel to use it in their own work, reinvent, and keep it fresh.  I would recommend this to anyone looking for a book to read to their child or looking to give them something to start their reading love. It wasn’t a difficult read. The writing was straight to the point in any character’s motivation or description. A magical read.

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.