Archive for January, 2013

Ishmael says:

Better to sleep with a sober cannibal than a drunken Christian.


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I am very sad that I am unable to participate in the inaugural Classics Club read-a-thon! Unfortunately, my job is kicking my ass right now, so I will be spending most of my waking hours this weekend working instead of reading. Sometimes life gets in the way of literary fun! It will be fun to spend some of my relaxing time keeping up with the reading that other people are doing!

I have two significant semi-long term classics projects going right now: the Moby-Dick Big Read and my Daily Dickens Project.

Moby-Dick Big Read icon

I started this project on January 1, and have listened to – now – four chapters! I wasn’t able to start the Big Read in September, but all of the chapter are still available on iTunes. There are a few fellow-readers in one of my GR groups who are listening along with me. I am hoping that this will be a great way to get this classic under my belt and I am actually planning on picking up a print copy of the book as well. There have been a number of moments so far that I want to annotate, and listening doesn’t give me any place to jot down my thoughts.

David Copperfield

My Daily Dickens book is David Copperfield. I initially intended to read all of the Dickens in order of publication, but I abandoned this after deciding that I really didn’t want to read Oliver Twist right now. I am on Chapter XIV of David Copperfield and am enjoying it much more than The Pickwick Papers. I liked the Pickwick Papers, but it was really more of a series of vignettes, and I prefer my narratives to be plot-based.

I also feel very guilty, because I have been neglecting Les Miserables, but I’m just not feeling the Victor Hugo mood right now. Soon.

I also have a few new books heading my way from Amazon that will get me started on my “neglected women writers” reading resolution. Monica Dickens, Dorothy Whipple, Muriel Spark and Angela Thirkell are all new writers to me. I can’t wait!

Wild StrawberriesMariana3069345Prime of Miss Jean Brodie

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King Solomon's Mines

The first book of 2013 is this 1885 adventure by H. Rider Haggard, which represents one of the first examples of the Lost World genre. This is Haggard’s first book featuring Allan Quatermain, an adventurer and great white hunter living in South Africa.

I am of two minds about this book. I really didn’t enjoy the beginning of the book – I found Quatermain to be generally irritating, and the extreme colonialism of the book was off-putting. I found the scenes where the main characters are wantonly slaughtering giraffes, elephants, and other African wildlife nothing less than disgusting. There was a point at which I wasn’t sure that I would finish the book.

However, somehow, this book – which is rather short – wormed its way into my brain, grabbed hold, and wouldn’t let go. It was violent and reduced the natives to caricatures, but it is representative of its time, and, in the end, I have to admit that I rather enjoyed it for what it was. It is certainly a lesser classic, and cannot compete with Tolstoy or Dickens or Eliot or the Brontes for depth. But, it provides interesting, if less than flattering, insight into the British colonial perspective, and is important because it is an early example of genre fiction.

January is adventure month for my genre classics project. I’m not sure what else, if anything, I will read in this genre. I expect that this will end up being an entirely unforgettable read.

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The turn of the year always feels like time to take stock, and make great and ambitious plans to learn new things, read great things, and accomplish much. 2013 will be my first full year blogging at TDAC, so, planning ahead a bit, here are my reading and blogging goals for this year:

To begin, I obviously want to make progress on my two long-term reading goals. I have also committed to a GR genre fiction challenge to read 12 genre classics in 12 months for one of my GR groups. I have picked 12 books off of those two lists, from adventure to mystery to horror. I also plan to read all six of Trollope’s Chronicles of Barsetshire, starting with The Warden.

I don’t read very much non-fiction. In 2013, I want to read all three volumes of Edmund Morris’ respected Teddy Roosevelt biography.

I want to read more neglected classics written by women. I have been exploring both the Virago modern classics and the Persephone classics. Being in the U.S., the Persephones are somewhat difficult to come by, but I plan to start collecting them. There are a number of women authors – Miles Franklin, Monica Dickens, Elizabeth Von Armin, that I want to collect and read. I think that I will start with the ten Persephone Classics that are widely available through amazon. And I may just save up my coins and splurge every now and again and have them shipped to me.

I also want to read more classic mysteries, both cozy style and noir.

Short Stories: I have several short story collections that I have barely touched, including Wallace Stegner and Alice Munro. I’ll be dipping into one short story a week. By the end of the year, I’ll have read 52 of them.

The last big goal for 2013 is my Daily Dose of Dickens – I will read at least one chapter a day of my current Dickens novel, starting with David Copperfield. I hope – in this way – to finish three or four of his novels this year. Slowly.

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“It is a curious thing that at my age — fifty-five last birthday — I should find myself taking up a pen to try to write a history.

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2012 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

4,329 films were submitted to the 2012 Cannes Film Festival. This blog had 56,000 views in 2012. If each view were a film, this blog would power 13 Film Festivals

Click here to see the complete report.

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