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Reading the Stacks 2011

I have a lot of books. I always have. I’m an English teacher and an avid reader, so it makes sense. With all the moves the last few years, my shelves have been going through a lot of changes and I find myself for the first time with more books that I have not read on my shelves than vice versa. This is unsettling. The books call out to me at night when I’m sleeping, begging to be read. When I sit with one book, another flies off the shelf and lands in my lap and whines. I need to quell the voices and buckle down and read the volumes on the shelves that haven’t been cracked since considering their adoption at various bookstores.

So this year, along with blogging every day and knitting solely out of my stash, I issue the challenge of reading exclusively from my stacks all the unread or half-read books. I thought about writing a list, but that would be massive. Instead, I’ll write a list of ten books at a time to work through and as I cross books off, I’ll add more at the bottom.

The following list is comprised mainly of books I’m partway through already and just need to focus in on and finish. I have a bad habit of starting a new book while I’m already reading another and thus spread my attention too thin. I do that with knitting, too.

1. Savage Beauty:  The Life of Edna St. Vincent Millay. Nancy Milford. Current status:  104 of 509 pages.

I began reading this one in the fall and I pick it up from time to time and read a chapter. I’m really enjoying learning more about one of my favorite poets and fellow Mainer.

2. Look Homeward, Angel. Thomas Wolfe. Current status:  69 of 508 pages.

Wolfe is a great and vivid writer but his exposition is thick and takes a lot of effort to trudge through. That’s one of the reasons I’m stuck at under 100 pages.

3. Stress Less:  The new science that shows women how to rejuvenate the body and mind. Thea Singer. Current Status:  11 of 254 pages.

I went to the book talk at Brookline Booksmith when Thea Singer was there. When introducing her book, she said that the tag line was the publisher’s idea and not hers. She wanted it to be “stress is the new biological clock.” The publishers won. The book has good science and great common sense ideas on how to manage stress.

4. Sense and Sensibility. Jane Austen. Current status:  120 of 365 pages.

As I expected, I’m thoroughly enjoying S&S. Austen rocks.

5. Swann’s Way. Marcel Proust. Current status:  0 of 444 pages.

This has been on my to-read list and by my bed for long enough. Time to cross it off!

6. Heavy Words Lightly Thrown:  The Reason Behind the Rhyme. Chris Roberts.

Gabe and I have been taking turns reading chapters out of this book out loud. I’m hoping we can finish it up in the next week or two.

7. The Fountain Overflows. Rebecca West. Current status:  0 of 313 pages.

I bought this book a few months ago for a book club. The event was cancelled and I then put off reading the book. I’m still very intrigued by the summaries I’ve read and look forward to my own reaction to this classic book.

8. Wizard and Glass, volume Four of The Dark Tower. Stephen King. Current Status:  119 of 668.

King is a master writer. I love everything I’ve read by him so far and he inspires me as a writer and a reader.

9. Everything’s Eventual:  14 Dark Tales. Stephen King. Status:  0 of 459 pages.

It’s a King book. I can’t wait to crack it open!

10. Azumanga Daioh. Kiyohiko Azuma. Current status:  483 of 675 pages.

This is the entire manga series in one volume. I watched the anime version back in 2005 or 2006 and befriended the characters. Reading the story in manga form is like reminiscing with old friends. It’s been a great experience. Azumanga Daioh is a slice of life manga following a cast of five friends through their three years of high school.

Read the Stack 2011 - Stack 1

Stack 1

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What are you currently reading? What books are on your list to read right now?

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Book Notes

I’ve been working on quite a few books lately, as I’ve mentioned a few times in previous posts. Here are a few thoughts on what I’m reading.

The Waste Lands. Stephen King.

I think I read this book in three or four sittings. I began reading the Dark Tower last summer and find the progression of the plot and the development of the characters fascinating and inspiring. The Gunslinger, the first volume of this long novel, while I understood the role it played in setting up the novel, for King was inspired by Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings, a single book in 3 volumes, it was a challenge at times to finish. The Drawing of the Three was better in that there was more plot action and characters to develop Roland, the protagonist. The work of these previous two volumes came clear in The Waste Lands. The Waste Lands has catapulted the action to a higher level and though I was appreciative of the The Dark Tower before, I am now truly hooked.

Look Homeward, Angel. Thomas Wolfe. Page 75 of 544.

I grew up with a hardcover library cast off volume named The Face of a Nation:  Poetical passages from the writings of Thomas Wolfe (1939). I read it under the sheets of my bed with a flashlight, enchanted by the language. I even wrote a few poems inspired by his themes and rich diction. I’ve always wanted to read one of his novels since reading those passages.

And now, I’m reading Look Homeward, Angel, a reading experience I’ve looked forward to for years, and I’m stuck on page 75. His language is rich, but at over 500 pages, it’ll take me a while to sift through each paragraph to uncover all the layers in each sentence.

It seems as though Wolfe is adept at describing things and moods better than people’s inner landscapes. At close to one-fifth through the novel, and halfway through part 1, I don’t really know the character’s very well. Maybe this will change as I journey further into the work.

However, that said, I *do* like this book. A lot. I am pretty sure Heinlein got the title of his book, Stranger in a Strange Land, from Wolfe. And it wouldn’t surprise me if the creators of Family Guy read Look Homeward, Angel, and were inspired by Eugene Gant, the protagonist, as a baby for the character of Stewie:

He wondered savagely how they would feel if they knew what he really thought:  at other times he had to laugh at them and at their whole preposterous comedy of errors as they pranced around for his amusement, waggled their heads at him, tickled him roughly, making him squeal violently against his will. The situation was at once profoundly annoying and comic:  as he sat in the middle of the floor and watched them enter, seeing the face of each transformed by a foolish leer, and hearing their voices become absurd and sentimental whenever they addressed hi, speaking to him words which he did not yet understand, but which he saw they were mangling in the preposterous hope of rendering intelligible that which has been previously mutilated, he had to laugh at the fools, in spite of his vexation.

I’ll finish it, but I need to take a break from it.

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So that’s where I’m at. I’m also nibbling on Savage Beauty and Pride and Prejudice. I’ll write on those ones probably next week.

Happy reading!

 

P. S. Don’t forget Michelle’s give away! Today is the last day to enter.