February/March Reading Notes

Two months into the new year, and I’ve hardly made a dent in my 2009 reading lists. My second encounter with Ishiguro was not all that exciting; the Ondaatje is proving to be similarly bland. I  think I can appreciate the ingenuity and experimentative quality of The Waves, but I’m not sure if I’m ready to read it.  Tender is the Night is proving to be a beautiful book, and yet I keep comparing it to Gatsby.

In March, I’ve decided I will be reading more nonfiction. Geraldine Brooks’ Nine Parts of Desire, Antonia Fraser’s The Weaker Vessel and a biography of Leonardo da Vinci by Charles Nicholls. I read this earlier, in 2008, but I only skimmed through it during exams. This time, I’m going to purchase my own copy and take my time with it. If I can find a copy, I’ll also try to read Isak Dineson’s Out of Africa.

As for literature, I’ll be reading Grapes of Wrath, North and South and The Picture of Dorian Grey. They’re all currently sitting on my shelf, so no excuse for excessive book-buying this month. I’ll also be taking part in Matt’s Gone with the Wind read-a-long, and re-reading Northanger Abbey, maybe in conjunction with The Mysteries of Udolpho. That’s five novels, potentially six, but I’ve also got to leave room to finish off Tender is the Night and Orwell’s Essays and The Age of Innocence. This month has been so awkward because I’ve got about four books halfway complete, and I haven’t actually finished many books at all.

The strange this is that at the end of each month, the unread books from my reading lists sort of slip into oblivion, and are never heard of again (ahem, Anna Karenina). I’ve been thinking about whether I really need to be so organised with my reading. I mean, I’ve already got projects happening, so why monthly reading lists? The main thing is that it stops me from buying too many books. For the last two months, my lists have been compiled from books already on my shelf, or that I know for sure are available at the library. In the end, though, they’re just loose guidelines for what I’d like to read in the month ahead. It doesn’t matter what I read, and what I don’t read.

I just really like compiling lists.

Hopefully, March will be a more promising thirty-one days than February, and hopefully I’ll be able to get my hands on Metamorphoses before the month is out.

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16 thoughts on “February/March Reading Notes

  1. I’m an obsessive listmaker too, but I’ve found that I really can’t prescribe my reading. Instead, I just satisfy my list urges my writing books onto a list after I’ve read them, and also make lists of books that I would like to read in the future (generally titles I don’t own).

    I’ve also been in a slump the past few weeks with respect to reading. I just haven’t been in the mood to read, even when I’m enjoying a book – I just don’t feel like devouring them. At the moment I’m tempted to start a new one I picked up from the library (The White Tiger!), although I hardly ever read more than one book at a time. Seriously, I think this stems from when I was little and my dad very sternly told me that it was wrong to start a new book before you had finished the one you were currently dealing with. Then again, I remember him also not liking it when I re-read books, so clearly I need to just get over certain things… ;) But anyway, back to The White Tiger, I’m tempted to start it, but because I got it from the campus library, it’s not due back until MAY, so there’s clearly no rush to get it read any time soon, save for before it turns up in the Tournament of Books…

    1. Steph – ah, re-reading’s also a big problem of mine. If I love a book, I find myself wanting to read it over and over again (not all at once though). You wouldn’t believe how many times I’ve re-read Harry Potter.
      White Tiger was the perfect remedy for my previous reading slump, so maybe you should just read it! Personally, I think I just need a break from reading. Maybe watch a movie or two, or a few episodes of ANTM.

  2. I loved The Waves, but for some reason, whenever I read Virginia Woolf I breeze through it. I’m halfway through The Lighthouse right now, and I’m absolutely loveing it. I don’t know what it is about her and I, but we definitely click. :)

    I’m a big list maker too, so I totally understand. ;)

    1. Eva – I love Woolf so much, but The Waves and The Lighthouse are two of her books that I can’t stand. I’m sure it gets better as it progresses, but the first few pages of The Waves just tired me.
      He said. She said. He said. He said. She said. After every sentence, it got sort of sickening to read. As for the Lighthouse, I detested the characters, and that just stopped me from enjoying the prose. I have a feeling I’ll like The Voyage Out, though. And maybe Orlando. I have a good feeling about Orlando.

  3. Ah, Dorian Gray . I’m reading it for my English class, and while I’m only halfway through, I love it. I think you will too, Tuesday, since you like art and Wilde has quite a few interesting things to say about art. And I’m hoping to start both Grapes of Wrath and Northanger Abbey next mouth as well.

    I couldn’t get into Never Let Me Go, so I’ve shelved that one for a later day. I liked Ishiguro’s writing style, but I couldn’t concentrate on the story. Are you going to be reading Elizabeth Gaskell’s North and South or John Jakes? I’m assuming Gaskell’s…

  4. I hope March is better for you, Tuesday. The Weaker Vessel is indeed very engaging so I hope that helps pick your reading pace up.

  5. I think that all of us that plan and plan are really just romantics – in love with the possibilities. Just because we do not accomplish things in the time allotted does not mean that the possibility has escaped us. It has merely been deferred. I have multiple copies of Out of Africa. If you are willing, email me your address and I will get one out to you?

  6. The Weaker Vessel is great (like all Antonia Fraser’s books), and Nine Parts of Desire readable too. Some quality books on your list, like The Grapes of Wrath. Top ten for sure.

    Was it Norwegian Wood that didn’t grab you? B/c I tried to read it a few weeks ago but was not taken at all with it. I thought it could (or hoped) have something to do with the translation.

  7. I highly recommend The Picture of Dorian Grey, it’s my favorites classic.
    I just bought the Grapes of Wrath because it has been chosen for community reading here in Cornell University!
    currently i’m reading The Plague by Albert Camus

  8. Antonia Fraser’s books always grab me. I always find it helps to switch over to nonfiction when fiction is starting to feel blah. Like you (and others who’ve commented), I’m a crazy list maker, but I realize also that I just like to make the lists. I’ve made several lists for all my challenge books, trying to put them in some order, so I feel in control. Ha! At least we keep trying, and keep reading. :)

    1. Christina – sounds wonderful! I’ve only ever read Wilde’s poetry before, so this should be interesting. I look forward to comparing thoughts w/ you on Grapes of Wrath and Northanger Abbey.
      And yes, I’ll be reading Gaskell’s North and South.

      claire – thanks, I just started it today and it’s living up to all my expectations.

      Frances – wow, really? I’m all the way in Australia though. If it’s really okay with you, then yes please :D

      Nico – Um, no, I haven’t read Norwegian Wood. Or any Murakami, for that matter. I keep meaning to, but never actually get around to him.

      zawan – thanks, Zawan, I’m looking forward to reading it. Ooh, Camus. His novels sound interesting, but personally I don’t think I could stand all that brooding existentialism. Have been saving them for a rainy day.

      Priscilla – I haven’t read many of hers, but I did enjoy her biography of Marie Antoinette very much. Thanks for dropping by :)

  9. So far I’m keeping my orbit in terms of reading books that I have planned to read. The conclusion of Black History Month and the arrival of March means I’m shifting my attention to Gone with the Wind. I made headway through it today as I have been confined indoor all day today. It’s raining cat and dog out.

    Out of Africa sounds to be a good selection to the list of books that I have heard so much about but have never got round to read. I’m also slipping in Tender is the Night (which I know that would not measure up to The Great Gatsby) and Blind Assassin.

    1. Matt – sounds like we’re reading similar things this month! I’m finishing up Tender is the Night at the moment, and have also gotten started on Gone with the Wind. Luckily it’s stopped raining here though and the weather is very nice and mild. I think I feel autumn coming :)
      I look forward to reading your thoughts on Blind Assassin, b/c I’ve been meaning to read more Atwood, but am not sure as to where I should go next.

  10. I like making lists but I too am feeling that my monthly reading lists are taking away the creativity of reading. I often have at least a half dozen books “in progress” but I”m trying to curb that myself. And I try not to let unfinished books slip away.

    It sounds like you have a wonderful list of books for the month, and I of course am looking forward to your thoughts on whatever you do read. Enjoy it!

    1. Rebecca – I like your books for March too, particularly the Hobbit project with your son! Forgive me for being slightly more nuts, but I think if/when I have children, I’ll read to them from when they’re in the womb. A literary substitute for the whole Mozart-Beethoven thing. Maybe I’ll read them racy things like Lolita and The Grimm Brothers… LOL, not really.

      Anyhoo, I look forward to reading your thoughts also – on Forsyte and Gone with the Wind and the Odyssey. Bummmer that I didn’t read any new books for your mini-challenge :(

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