January Reading Notes

January has been a pretty good reading month. Well, not really. Out of the five books I’ve read, three were disappointing – but I seem to be out of my slump at long last.

Over the next ten days, my “mini-goal” is to complete The Canterbury Tales and Anna Karenina. Since the Chaucer is a library book (overdue by a month and a half), I’ll be reading it first. Notice how other books are conveniently prioritising themselves over Anna Karenina? Once I sit down with the book in my hands and begin reading, I’m fine, but I seem to have an aversion towards the thought of actually reading it. I think it may have something to do with the translation. I need to get myself a Pevear-Volokhonsky sometime soon.

As for The Canterbury Tales, I’m having a great time. When I think “14th century”, I always envision Medieval folks shrouding themselves in piety and solemnity, but Chaucer is quite mischievous. There’s still something I find odd about reading an entire book in verse, though.

I don’t normally like to set myself such rigid reading goals, but I know that if I don’t make myself finish Anna Karenina now, I never will (not this edition, anyway). And I really need to return all my overdue books before they make me pay a fine. And in case I haven’t made it bleedingly obvious already, I like compiling lists. In February, I think I’ll be reading the following books:

  • Tender is the Night, F Scott Fitzgerald
  • Metamorphoses, Ovid
  • The Age of Innocence, Edith Wharton
  • Middlemarch, George Eliot
  • Ulysses, James Joyce

It’s also just caught my attention that I have not yet read Tales of Beedle the Bard. While it’s true that I have been attempting to stem my Harry Potter addiction, how could I have let this happen?

And yes. I’m aware that I’m becoming increasingly incoherent (who knew it was possible to be rambling and disjointed all at once?), but we’re in Day 8 of ridiculously-sweltering-heat, against which airconditioners are useless, so please be understanding.


14 thoughts on “January Reading Notes

  1. What a lofty reading goal to set! I managed to get through Anna Karenina in about a week when I was an undergrad, but that was largely because I was reading it for a course and I needed to get it done in order to write the paper (or possibly to write the exam… or both!). I found that I really enjoyed the book at first, but then felt it began to drag. I believe I read the Pevear & Volokhonsky translation, and that wasn’t too painful. But I did very much skim through the last book/section, as there was far too many musings on the political role of peasants for my tastes!

    Never read Canterbury Tales – I’m not sure I could do the Olde English thing. Good luck!

    1. Steph – it’s actually not as bad as it sounds! I started Anna Karenina at the beginning of this month, but I’m only halfway through b/c I keep reading other books in-between. As for the Canterbury Tales, I’m reading a (very) modern translation by Joseph Glaser. I don’t think I’m brave enough to attempt the original. Thanks for dropping by :)

    1. J C Montgomery – yay, I’ve been meaning to read Edith Wharton forever and have never had the time. Looking forward to reading your thoughts also :)

  2. I don’t know which AK translation I read but I did enjoy. It took a few months. (It was before my obsessive reading habits when I started my blog.)

    A month and a half overdue! And they let you keep it out? I think they’d make me pay for the book at some point…

    Impressive goal to read Ulysses. and in one month!!!! I have a lot more to read before I attempt that one!

    1. Rebecca – you forget that I’m currently on holiday, and since it’s much too hot to go outside, I’m home most days of the week w/ nothing to do but drink iced tea and read :)
      Hm, and I think they’re a little lenient with library books over the holiday season. Or they’re just lax in general. I’m not sure.

  3. I schedule Anna Karenina in March for my course, and I am using the Pevear/Volokhonsky translation. The students will have a week off for spring break in which they are to read a third of the book.

    Your Feb reading list is very heavy and challenging. I doubt if I can read anything else other than James Joyce at once.

    1. Matthew – well, I started Anna Karenina at the start of this month and I’m still only a third of my way through, so I need to stop procrastinating, hahah. As for the February list, I probably am overstretching myself a bit, but I’m taking into account the fact that the Fitzgerald and the Wharton are rather short. Oops – but then I forgot to take into account that February is a shorter month.

  4. You should probably drop AK until you get the Pevear-Volokhonsky. :)

    Been wanting to read The Canterbury Tales for a long time, but for sure not this year, I think I’m way over my head with all these reading challenges.

    Tales of Beedle the Bard isn’t grabbing my attention.. it looks too short!

    1. claire – Even though I’m reading it for a challenge, I decided I didn’t want to have to struggle through it, so I chose an extremely modern translation, and it actually makes for easier reading than Tolstoy :)
      Argh, for some reason I assumed Beedle was this huge, fat thing. Maybe it’s because I’ve only seen the pictures of the limited edition ones.

  5. I loved Age of Innocence and look forward to reading your comments on it. I found the last chapter to be quite poetic. I also couldn’t bring myself to watch the movie. There was something so magical for me on the tone of the book that I was afraid would be tainted by watching a movie version.

    While Austen is my favorite author, Middlemarch is my favorite book.

    I remembered liking the title “Tender is the Night” better than I liked the book, but then “Ode to a Nightingale” might be the best poem ever written…

    I’ve never read Ovid–if you post that you’re reading it in Latin, I don’t know what I’ll do…I tried to think of something appropriate, but couldn’t.

    Enjoy your Feb. reading.

    1. JaneGS – I didn’t know there was a movie! Actually, I don’t think I’ll be watching it either. I think I might have mentioned this somewhere else, but ever since I watched Gatsby w/ Mia Farrow and Robert Redford in it, the book’s been ruined for me.

      Hm, I have yet to hear a positive review of Tender is the Night, but since I love Gatsby so much, I think I’ll give it a chance. And no! I’m not going to read Ovid in Latin. I’m searching for an English translation right now :)

  6. I have the Garnett translation of Anna K and enjoyed it, so hope you start to. If it feels like a chore though, maybe you should put it aside until you’re in the mood.

    I was surprised by Chaucer’s humour as well, especially in The Wife of Bath’s Tale.

    Your Feb reading plans are aiming high.! Of the books you mention, The Age of Innocence is a favourite and Middlemarch is due for a re-read, as I had mixed feelings about it.

    I haven’t read The Tales of Beedle Bard yet either. I know if I do it will make me want to re-read the whole HP series.

    1. Sarah – the first time I read Anna Karenina, I had an unfavourable impression of it, and for that reason I have this reluctance to actually pick up the book. I just keep procastinating, hahah. Once I sit down and start reading, I’m fine.

      Good point about Beedle. It’s been a while since I read the whole series through, so that might not be a bad idea!

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