As summer mellows into autumn, I’ve begun to re-discover my love for the little joys of life. And I’ve realised that reading should enrich my life, and not be something I’m “burdened” with. It’s why I’ve done away with all my monthly reading lists. That lost element of whimsy and adventure was what I’d missed most in my reading. Unfortunately, my rather heavily humanities-based subjects require equally heavy amounts of reading, so I’ve had to put a halt to all personal reading. Sort of, anyway.

Has anyone noticed how bad I am at keeping resolutions? Just four days ago, I told myself that I would sacrifice reading for my studies, and yet I’m getting through two and a half books at the moment (as well as putting up polls on what I should read next).

It’s been a while since I finished The Picture of Dorian Gray, which I enjoyed immensely while I was meant to be doing readings for Politics and History. Sort of began Gaskell’s North and South, but unsure if I want to commit to it. And I’m reading Gone with the Wind and George Orwell’s Essays alongside everything else. Not satisfied, though. I’d really like to sink my teeth properly into just one book. Half the problem is that there are simply too many books to pick from. I’m willing to read all of them eventually; I just can’t decide which to start with.

Ugh, I’d better get back to my assignments.


25 thoughts on “Thoughts

  1. I fully support you doing-away with reading lists. As soon as I begin to prescribe my reading, I feel it is more an obligation/chore than something I do for myself (sometimes I feel this way too if it’s been a while since I’ve posted a book review on my site… but I can only read so fast, and I have other obligations, and if I’m reading just so that I can write a review, rather than so that I can experience the book to its fullest, I feel no one wins there.).

    That being said, I voted for you to read Vanity Fair. But really, you should read whatever you want!

    1. Steph – I agree completely about writing reviews. Sometimes, I think keeping a blog has had a negative impact on my reading, but the good things outweigh the bad things by far. I probably wouldn’t give the books I read as much thought if I knew I wasn’t going to write about them afterwards (or if I knew nobody would hear or read my thoughts on them). And, of course, I value other bloggers’ opinions a lot.

  2. That’s so true.. reading should enrich our lives, not burden us. Sometimes I feel a bit burdened by the challenges. I always look ahead and keep hoping I’m done with them so I can read more spontaneously again. Though I can’t say there’s no spontaneity in my reading now, as I keep jumping onto books I don’t plan on reading, and then I just cheat and squeeze them into the challenges. I tweak and change my lists all the time, too, haha. Btw, I voted for Middlemarch because I love George Eliot and mean to read this, too, so thought I could get advanced thoughts from you. But, most of all, I chose that because I don’t want you burdened with Henry James nor Dickens (I know how you feel about them, and, like you said, reading should be enriching, not burdensome.) :D

    1. claire – hahah, to minimise the time-limit stress of challenges, I’ve just decided I’ll read all the leftovers in 2010 (if I can manage not to sign up for any next year, that is). I do that as well! My lists are very susceptible to change :)

      Oh the shame; I’ve never read George Eliot before! Until a few years ago, I used to think she was a man. Middlemarch is winning so far, with three votes. Dickens is alarmingly close!

  3. I don’t stress about finishing challenges. Yes, it’s a nice since of accomplishment, but they shouldn’t be a chore. I change my lists all the time. I like your idea about reading leftovers in 2010, but I’m afraid my leftovers will just be classics. Nothing wrong with that, but there’s only so much Russian literature I can read.

    I voted for Middlemarch even though I haven’t read it. In fact, the only one on your list I have read is Great Expectations and I wouldn’t recommend that to anyone, especially you, Tuesday, since I know how much you dislike Dickens. I can’t understand for the life of me why you have two of his books listed. Are you glutton for punishment?

    1. Christina – no way! I’m not glutton for punishment; those are just the unread books that I have on my shelf at the moment. Hahah, I certainly don’t like Dickens, but it’s surprising how memorable his books are. What I’ve read of Great Expectations and A Tale of Two Cities and Little Dorrit have stayed with me a long time. I think it’s just that I hate the thought of reading him. Which is weird, but yes.

  4. I love to have a few books in progress at a time, because sometimes I don’t feel like reading the book I”m in the middle of. But I understand the desire to sit down and read *just one book* and it gets hard when life gets busy.

    I’ve realized similar things about reading lists. My reading time is getting less now that I have a new house and it’s becoming spring. (I spent all day today working in my new yard, because it was amazingly warm for March.) And the house needs lots of work. But it’s so much fun to get those moments. I signed up for a lot of challenges — and I probably won’t finish most of them. But it’s okay but I should be reading for me and the lists are just guides since I”m not in school, as you are.

    Anyway, sorry to ramble. Go read what you want but don’t forget to enjoy your time in school while you have it!

  5. And I voted for Galsworthy because my librarything group is reading it thise month and I haven’t got to it yet and I”d love to hear what you think of it ;) I loved Age of Innocence, though, and it was short.

    1. Rebecca Reid – I am rather enjoying school. It’s nice to be ‘busy’ again, and to have a goal in life. For five months I felt like some aimless wanderer, lol. Wow, librarything has reading groups? Hmm.. Middlemarch seems to be winning so far, but I’ll probably be reading Forsyte soon. Maybe I’ll get to hear your thoughts first? I’d love to hear what you think of it too :)

      Ooh, Age of Innocence. I read the first few chapters and it was great, but then I put it back on the shelf. For some reason, when books get put back on the shelf, I can’t bring myself to start reading them again.. for a while.

  6. It’s good to have resolution and reading list; but I am a believer of whims. Sometimes you might want to explore a different subject or author, or to deviate from the original path because you have read , say, a very distressing or sad book that you need a change of climate. I ‘ve been contemplating to take on Ulysses, which is on your list, but I decide this is not the time, at least not this moment. I know I’ll get to it this year.

    1. Matt – Great! I’d be really interested in hearing your thoughts on Ulysses, although if you did a read-a-long I know I wouldn’t participate, b/c I’d never be able to stay on track. It’ll probably take me a while to get through it, seeing as I have to try really really hard to focus while I’m reading stream-of-consciousness. With Woolf’s writing, I just catch the wave and flow along nicely, but for some reason, I just get lost in other writers’ soc prose…

  7. True; Dicken’s books do stick with you. I just remember reading Great Expectations freshman year and being so bored, so frustrated with it. Sometimes its hard for me to believe that he wrote A Christmas Carol. I have a couple of books on your list on my shelf too — War and Peace,
    A Tale of Two Cities, Vanity Fair, The Age of Innocence — but since I’m already reading Gone with the Wind and will be reading Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad when I return to school from spring break, I’m focusing more on contemporary novels for my vacation.

    I’m hoping you’ll be able to post some thoughts about The Picture of Dorian Gray soon. No pressure; just while I was reading it I couldn’t help but think you would like it, so I’m interested in your thoughts.

    1. Christina – ahh, Dorian Gray. I have got a half-complete review floating around somewhere. Maybe I’ll post it today? I’ll be interested in hearing your thoughts on the Conrad.. I remember trying to read it as a kid, but I don’t think I understood it at all. Didn’t make much of an impression either, because I can’t really recall its content.

  8. I always find myself oscillating between the desire to have a reading list which focuses my reading and allows for the satisfaction of achieving a goal, and knowing that as soon as anything become a kind of ‘prescribed’ reading, suddenly I have no interest in reading it! As for the humanities reading load I can very much sympathise. I did a Modern History/Politics/literature, BA and I can honestly say that the reading load that comes with it is something I do not miss. Whilst I enjoyed every minute of it, it doesn’t leave much time or mental energy left for personal reading…or anything else for that matter! Good luck with it all. :D

    1. antipodeanowl – that happens to me quite often! As for the reading load, now that I’ve settled in (sort of), it’s manageable so I think I’ll start reading Middlemarch sometime this weekend :)

  9. Ulysses will not be a read-along title, because, while it might provoke heated discussion, the book itself takes a substantial amount of time to reflect upon and to ponder. I’ll let you know when I’m ready to take on the book so you may gauge my progress.

    Virginia Woolf is also on my list for this year. I’m sure we’ll be crossing paths! :)

    1. Matthew – true. It certainly isn’t a book to rush through. And yay, I look forward to your posts on Woolf. As you may have gathered, I’m quite in love with her writing.

  10. I also voted for Middlemarch. It’s a fantastic novel. Here’s the review of it that I have posted on the Recommended Reading board over at The Republic of Pemberley (

    Focused on small town Victorian England, this sumptuous novel teeters toward melodrama but never loses its moralistic grounding as its characters wrestle with fallen gods, past transgressions, and forbidden love. A thoroughly satisfying favorite that’s as complicated as the Dickens but with splash of Bronte and a touch of Gaskell.

  11. I used to read about 4 books at once, but now I’ve decided to stick to one book (currently reading The Trial, Kafka) because I could finish it faster and I’ll be able to write a proper review, since I’m entirely focused on one book.

    1. zawan – good idea. I couldn’t do anything more than one book at a time b/c I just don’t have the time or energy to commit myself to literature anymore. I hope you’re enjoying Kafka. I’ve been meaning to read him forever, but have yet to do so.

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