Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Midsummer Musings

There’s no getting around it – this has been a weird summer.  And not the good kind of weird.  Lots of rain, lots of sadness, lots of solo weekends with the kids as Steve has been traveling every few weeks.  Lots of work stress and some disappointments on the professional front.  The garden’s a dud (but the weeds are thriving).  We’ve barely hit the trails at all, we’ve only been to the pool once, we haven’t picked blueberries and we haven’t kayaked once (unless you count a failed attempt I made while visiting my parents’ lake house – Nugget cried if I got more than five feet from the dock).  I bought the kids their own kayak paddles to use at Fletcher’s Cove and on vacation in the Adirondacks this summer, and they’re still in the boxes.  All things considered, it’s just… not shaking out.

That’s not to say there hasn’t been some good stuff.  I don’t mean to throw myself a pity party here – or at least, not for too long.  We made it to Cornell Reunion and to visit my folks (including my brother and sister-in-love), and we’ve done a little hiking – Bash Bish Falls was a highlight.  Peanut sang a solo at the camp talent show.  I started baking bread.  But even with those highlights, it just feels like the earth is off its axis.

But I’m a naturally hopeful person, and I’m convinced we can still turn this ship around and salvage one of my favorite seasons.  Our family vacation is still ahead of us and I’m looking forward to long days of hiking Adirondack trails, splashing in Mirror Lake and sipping local Lake Placid brews.  I’ve read some wonderful books and I have a big stack of more summer reads waiting for me.  And right now, as I write this, the kids are running around the house playing “Magic Tree House,” and their little voices lift my heart like nothing else.

It’s been a weird summer.  But I’m finding joy where I can, and there’s more on the horizon.

Advertisements


Reading is my oldest and favorite hobby. I literally can’t remember a time in my life when I didn’t love to curl up with a good book. Here are my reads for July, 2018…

Slightly Foxed No. 58: A Snatch of Morning, ed. Gail Pirkis – It’s always a red-letter day when the latest issue of Slightly Foxed arrives on my doorstep!  This quarterly journal has brought me so much joy since I stumbled across it a couple of years ago now.  The latest issue was the same hodgepodge of delightfulness – this time around, there were essays on E.M. Forster’s great-aunt (which I really enjoyed, as I was reading Howards End at the same time); beards; Englishness; and Jane Austen’s favorite poet.  There’s nothing quite like an issue of Slightly Foxed for curling up with – gigantic cup of tea optional but desirable.

Howards End, by E.M. Forster – Here’s one that’s been on the TBR for ages, which I finally picked up because (1) there’s a new adaptation and I wanted to watch it but I really wanted to read the book first; and (2) I got a pretty hardcover copy from Hodder & Stoughton.  The story of the clashes and intersections between the Schlegel sisters and the Wilcox family were absorbing from beginning to end – and, predictably, I identified with Margaret and found Helen mildly exasperating.

I’m Still Here: Black Dignity in a World Made for Whiteness, by Austin Channing Brown – I’m not sure if lately there are more memoirs about the experience of living as a woman of color, or if I’m just more aware of them, but I’ve read several now and this is a standout.  Brown writes compellingly about names, identity, work, religion and more.  The section in which she details the microaggressions of a typical workday was really eye-opening and made me all the more determined to be a good ally.  (My friend Zan also read this book last month, although I don’t think we were aware that we were reading the same book at the time.  Go check out her thoughts on the book here.)

North and South, by Elizabeth Gaskell – Another one that I’ve been meaning for a long time to read.  I picked this up while in the first shock of grieving for a loved one who had enjoyed this book, and it was the only thing that made me feel better.  Asked to describe it midway through the reading experience, I said it was “Pride and Prejudice and labor unrest,” and I hold to that elevator pitch – but man, it is SO good.  For some reason I’d had it in my head that Elizabeth Gaskell would be a difficult read, but that can’t be further from my experience.  I’ve now read two of her books – the other being Cranford – and loved both.  I can’t wait to wend my way through the rest.

Summer, by Edith Wharton – Sometimes described as “the hot Ethan,” Summer tells the story of young Charity Royall’s awakening during an affair with the cousin of a neighbor, visiting from the city.  Typical for Wharton, the writing is spare and elegant and the scene-setting is atmospheric.  I enjoyed it all the more for having just been in Lenox, where Wharton had her country estate, earlier in the month.  (The Mount has long been on my to-do list.  I must make it happen sooner than later.)

The Coldest Winter Ever, by Sister Souljah – I picked this up because it was described as a “classic of urban literature” and was recommended on PBS’ The Great American Read.  But man alive, how I hated it.  Winter Santiaga is the spoiled eldest daughter of a Brooklyn drug kingpin, but her world comes crashing down when her father is arrested.  Winter decides she is going to do whatever she has to do in order to survive, but surviving for Winter appears to mean finding a man to take care of her, or alternatively, coming up with her own crime schemes to get money quick so she can buy designer clothes.  For a short time she comes within the orbit of Sister Souljah, a Harlem activist who comes across as completely self-righteous and sanctimonious.  Midnight, the only man Winter can’t get, and Rashida, one of Winter’s acquaintances at a group home she resides in temporarily, are the only characters I found at all worthwhile in the book.  For awhile I tried to equate Winter with other unsympathetic anti-heroines – namely Scarlett O’Hara – but it didn’t work.  Scarlett at least had something she loved outside of herself – Tara, her father’s plantation – and her schemes were all centered around her purpose of saving and keeping Tara.  Winter was only interested in Winter.  But I plugged away at it and finally finished, and it’s been a long time since I’ve been so glad to be done with a book.

Slightly Foxed No. 5: A Hare’s Breath, ed. Gail Pirkis – After the 400-page miseryfest that was The Coldest Winter Ever, I needed some quick comfort, and fortunately I had a few essays left to read in the fifth volume of Slightly Foxed (as I am reading my way through the back issues at the meditative pace of an essay or two a night, unless I need a palate cleanser from a terrible reading experience).  I think I should read through more quickly, though, because the essays at the end, when I was steaming along, made more of an impression than the earlier essays I read in snatches.  Particular highlights were an introduction to a princess who followed her Decembrist husband to Siberia, and a meander through the gardening literature of Vita Sackville-West (which is already on my Amazon wish list).

News from Thrush Green (Thrush Green #3), by Miss Read – I was still in need of comfort reading after finishing the Slightly Foxed issue described above, and there’s nothing like Miss Read for that.  I’d been saving this third installment in the Thrush Green series and I happily dove right back into that world.  In this one, marital problems abound.  Nelly Piggott leaves her husband Albert after he grouses about her cooking one too many times, and a newcomer arrives in the village with a sweet son but no husband (!!!!!) which, naturally, sets tongues wagging.  There are other domestic disturbances, too – the Baileys host an irritating family member for an extended visit and Dotty Harmer has kittens to give away.  Thrush Green is a sweet, slow-paced world where the problems are slight and you’re guaranteed that everything will turn out fine in the end.  Just what the doctor ordered.

I definitely did more reading in July than in June – I suppose I was making up for lost time.  And so many classics this month!  Time spent over Elizabeth Gaskell, Edith Wharton, E.M. Forster and Miss Read is always a delight, as is any moment I am able to snatch with an issue of Slightly Foxed.  I always end a month feeling more satisfied with and comforted by my reading if it’s included plenty of classics, and July was no exception – I guess I know what I like.

Some weekend!  The big news around here is that Peanut lost her first tooth on Saturday.  Yup!  She’s officially a big kid.  She was delighted with her haul from the Tooth Fairy (four quarters! so shiny!) and I now have a tooth in my jewelry box.  (Mom readers: what does one do with baby teeth?  Saving them seems weird.)  The other big news was that Peanut sang a solo – How Far I’ll Go, from Moana – at the camp talent show on Friday.  I worked from home and Steve and I both took the afternoon off to be there.  I was so proud!  Last year she hid in the back row as her group sang “This Land is Your Land” and this year she tore out in front of the audience, grabbed the mic and went to town.  What a difference a year makes, huh?

The rest of the weekend was fairly low-key, which was both bad and good.  Bad because I had a long list of things I really needed to get done – for work and for the personal project I am still plugging away at, which feels like it has no end in sight, ugh – and good because all I want lately is slow weekends.  We hiked both Saturday and Sunday – on Saturday at Turkey Run Park in McLean, and on Sunday at Mason Neck, our favorite Virginia state park, in Lorton.  We’d hoped to get out on the water on Sunday, but with all the rain we’ve had, the Potomac water levels were crazy high and moving fast – not exactly little duffer conditions.  The rest of the weekend, we mostly just drifted around.  I baked bread, Nugget and I walked to the library, and Peanut and I did some grocery shopping.  It would’ve been perfect had I just not felt anxious/guilty about the work and project stuff I wasn’t doing.

 

Reading.  Fairly slow, but thoroughly enjoyable, reading week around here.  I finished up News from Thrush Green midweek, and there is really nothing like Miss Read to beat the stress of a fast-paced and demanding life.  I love Thrush Green just as much as Fairacre by now, and it’s such a joy to spend more time in Miss Read’s worlds.  Still looking for village calm and peace after finishing News, I turned to Marghanita Laski’s novel of post-war social changes, The Village.  I’m reading it slowly and meditatively, but loving it.

Watching.  Still working our way through the latest season of The Great British Baking Show.  We’re down to the final four contestants now, and I’m in denial that we’re almost done and soon won’t have any more episodes to watch – sob.  At least the first episode of Making It is available, so I’ve got something to look forward to.  Oh, also, I’m pleased to report that the kids discovered SING last week, and I have now seen it eleventy-seven times.

Listening.  Y’all are going to think I’m a huge dork, but I don’t even care.  I have alternated between listening to The Great Courses on The English Novel via Audible and falling down a Fireside Collective rabbit hole, and I’m not even sad about it.  (Please don’t stop reading.)

Making.  More bread!  And lists – lots of lists – of hiking and paddling gear, camera equipment, hikes to do and breweries to check out on our upcoming vacation to Lake Placid.  Not much longer to wait now!

Blogging.  I have a belated list of July’s reads coming on Wednesday, and on Friday I’m getting a bit glum about what a weird summer we’ve been having.  It happens.

Wondering.  Moms, what sorts of things did you do to encourage your kiddos to read?  Peanut has the mechanical skills and is able to read quite a bit through a combination of sight words and phonics, and she’s totally book-crazy and given to carrying her books around the house and cuddling with them.  But these impulses are at war with her inner drive not to do anything an adult appears to want her to do.  I got her some super-cute early readers from the library, but she was all eye-rolly and ugh, Mom about them.  I don’t want to turn her off books, so I’m not pushing them hard, but I’d love for her to actually spend a little time with them.  Any advice?

Loving.  It’s vinho verde season!  I’ll happily drink rosé all year long, but I do think vinho verde is a summer wine.  I love the lightness and the little bit of fizz – yum.  Steve asked me to pick up some wine on Friday, and I tossed two bottles of vinho verde into my cart, and we enjoyed one on Friday evening.  Summer perfection!

Asking.  What are you reading this week?

On Living Slow

Recently I was walking home from the Metro after another evening of working late – tired, of course, and hungry, because as usual I didn’t know that I’d be working late by the deadline to order dinner on the firm.  As I trudged up the steps to my front door, I waved hello to my next-door neighbor, who was gardening in her front yard.  She waved back, then frowned, and said “You must think that I have no life.”

I thought about that.  There she was, enjoying the peace of a long summer evening with her hands in the dirt, transplanting bunches of echinacea.  And there I was, just hoping that I’d made it home in time to kiss Nugget good night before he fell asleep (no hope on Peanut, who sacks out at about 6:45 every night).  “On the contrary,” I told her, “I think you have a lovely life.”

I wouldn’t classify life as particularly exciting at the moment.  I’m not a Hollywood starlet or an Olympic skier, or Meghan Markle.  But it sure does seem to be fast-paced.  My weeks are often spent at a breakneck speed, rushing to and from work, school or camp, and home.  From the time the kids wake up until the time they drop off to sleep, I’m either parenting – bumping around the kitchen making lunches, searching for sandals and lost toys, breaking up fights – commuting, or working.  If I’m lucky, some of those hours are made up with reading stories or playing trains.  But no matter what, it is constant.  And it feels as though it’s all happening at the speed of sound.  That’s not a comfortable or enjoyable pace for me, and I’ve found that the only way to get through this extended busy season is to take every opportunity I do get to slow down.

I’ve always been drawn to the idea of a life lived at a seasonal pace.  Even in high school, I dreamed of retreating to the mountains to live in a little cabin surrounded by lavender and mountain laurel.  I’d keep chickens, grow a big garden, and spend my days roaming the trails, swimming in a pristine lake, and writing the Great American Novel.  In the winter, I’d snowshoe through a balsam forest and then come home and curl up under a cream-colored blanket.  In the summer, I’d strum a guitar by a campfire – never mind that I don’t know how to play the guitar – and stockpile garden bounty for the colder months.  (Basically, I wanted to homestead before I knew that homesteading was a thing that happened outside of a Laura Ingalls Wilder novel.)  Sometimes, in this fantasy, I had a family.  Other times, I was blissfully alone.  Of course, I knew that it was never going to happen.  But it sure was fun to think about.

I may not be living in an isolated mountain cabin.  My busy lawyer-mom life is a far cry from the hermit life I dreamed of living.  That’s a good thing.  I’d much rather live this life I’m living, hectic as it often is.  I wouldn’t trade my husband and kids, or our bustling city lifestyle.  But I do try to slow it down, especially on weekends when I have the luxury of doing so.  I love the slow things in life – long leisurely lunches, complete with a crisp rosé in the summer.  Picnics in the sunshine.  Long walks through peaceful wooded paths; bonus points for a breathtaking overlook.  Reading for hours.  Sipping a cup of tea while watching the rain pour down outside my window.  The extended process of bread-baking.  Sitting curled up on the couch in the children’s section of the library, watching my kids play with the latch boards and bead boxes.  Knitting a shawl.  Paddling my kayak down my favorite (gentle) stretch of Potomac or around an Adirondack lake.  The rhythmic sound of my running shoes on the Mount Vernon Trail.  Long conversations with a good friend.

Fast-paced things have never drawn me.  Steve loves fast cars and shoot-em-up video games; I don’t get the attraction at all.  I’m glad he knows what makes him happy, and glad to indulge him in his own personal joys.  But for me – I want something simpler.  I want time, time with friends, time with family, time with my kids.  I want quiet, and peace, and rest, and when I get those things I try to make them last.

What slow things make you happy?  Or do you like to live at a faster pace?

Well, it’s only August!  The summer is flying by – as usual – and it just occurred to me that I haven’t done a “top ten books of the year so far” post.  I’ve been seeing similar posts pop up on other blogs over the past few weeks, so maybe we’re all running late?  In any event, completely unscientifically and vaguely in chronological order, here are my ten favorite books read in the first – errrrr – seven months of the year.

Period Piece: A Cambridge Childhood, by Gwen Raverat – Steve and the kids gave me an absolutely gorgeous edition of Period Piece for my birthday in 2017, and it was a lovely reading experience to start off the year.  Raverat grew up as Gwen Darwin, granddaughter of Charles, in Victorian Cambridge, before becoming an woodcut illustrator and marrying Jacques Raverat, himself a well-known artist.  Raverat is one of the first professional female artists to gain reknown, and Period Piece, her charming memoir of her childhood, is illustrated with her own work.  I love woodcut illustration, and I love Victorian childhood lit, so basically I was here for all of it.

Consider the Years, by Virginia Graham – Graham was a genteel, upper-class lady, married and moving in the best social circles, when the world came crashing down in the form of the Blitz.  Consider the Years is her collection of poetry from the beginning of World War II to just after the war’s end.  It’s beautiful, sad, sometimes funny (oh, Nanny!) and altogether wonderful.

Behind the Lines, by A.A. Milne – Somehow, despite reading his Winnie-the-Pooh books more times than I can count, and despite being well aware that Milne also wrote many books for adults, I’d never read any of his work not set in the Hundred Acre Wood.  That is – until I saw Behind the Lines on another book blog and scrambled to obtain a copy for myself (it’s out of print).  Milne’s Home Front poetry is witty, funny, poignant and delightful – much like When We Were Very Young and Now We Are Six, except with newspapers and barometers.

84, Charing Cross Road, by Helene Hanff – People have been telling me to read this book for literally years and I finally got around to it (and in great style, in the form of a fire engine red Slightly Foxed Edition – so pretty).  Hanff is a Manhattan bibliophile who writes to a London bookstore in search of some inexpensive used books to complete her self-assigned course of education and personal enrichment.  She gets the books – lots and lots of them – but something better as well: cross-Atlantic friendships with the store’s entire staff, all of whom write to her at various points.  The letters they exchange are hilarious, chatty, and sometimes sad as Hanff details the financial woes that prevent her from coming to London and having a cuppa with all of them in person.

Space Opera, by Catherynne M. Valente – Eurovision in space?!  What’s not to love?  Valente is one of my go-to preorders; I think she’s one of the most original authors writing today.  Her latest novel was such a fun romp.  Decibel Jones is a washed-up and aging glam rocker who finds himself in the unusual position of being the only hope for the survival of humanity after a blue birdlike alien arrives and informs everyone that unless Decibel and the remnants of his long-dispersed band manage not to come in dead last in an intergalactic singing competition, Earth will be obliterated.  No pressure, D!

Northanger Abbey, by Jane Austen – My choice for the first read of my new book club wasn’t very popular, sadly.  But Northanger Abbey is one of my favorite Austens, and every time I read it I remember just how much I love it.  I adore naïve Catherine, sweet Eleanor, handsome Henry, and even the clueless Mrs Allen.

The Last Watchman of Old Cairo, by Michael David Lukas – I’d have picked this one up for the cover alone (I mean, does it get more beautiful?) but I had read and loved Lukas’ debut novel, The Oracle of Stamboul, years ago and was eagerly awaiting his sophomore effort.  This didn’t disappoint – it was just as richly imagined, gorgeously written, evocative and absorbing as its predecessor.  I got it from the library, but I might need to buy a copy, because I loved it so much.

Brensham Village, by John Moore – The second volume of the Brensham trilogy, a lightly-fictionalized memoir about English country life from the Edwardian days to World War II, was a definite highlight.  (I also read the first volume, Portrait of Elmbury, which was excellent, but included one very jarring paragraph with a couple of racist sentences.  I wouldn’t throw out the baby with the bathwater, but Brensham Village pulls ahead by being more charming in every respect and also, no racism.)  I have copies of each book in the trilogy in gorgeous blue and green Slightly Foxed Editions, and I look forward to returning to the world of cricket on Brensham Green, followed by pints in the Horse Narrow, very soon.

I’m Still Here: Black Dignity in a World Made For Whiteness, by Austin Channing Brown – I have been trying to stay abreast of the important memoirs about the experiences of people of color, and while there are many standouts, I’m Still Here has been my favorite.  Brown’s writing is elegant and compelling, and her life experiences well worth reading about.  I devoured it in a day.

North and South, by Elizabeth Gaskell – This classic is a must-read that has been on my list for a long time, but I finally picked it up to get me through the grief of losing a loved one too soon.  The family member we lost had loved this book and encouraged me to read it, and now I finally have.  The first few chapters may be a bit splotchy with dried tears, but I was able to close the book with a smile and think to myself, you were absolutely right, of course.

Some good reading so far this year!  I always gravitate to classics, but I did so this year more than most, as you can probably tell from this list.  There’s just something so comforting about a big cup of tea, a warm woven blanket, and a classic novel when the winter winds are howling outside (or really, anytime throughout the year, although I might pass on the blanket in the August heat).  I also think that as the world outside gets scarier and more unpredictable, my bookshelves become more and more of an escape.  Everything else is moving so fast – I just want to take things slowly and keep it simple at home, and that probably shows in the reading I most enjoyed in the first half-ish of 2018.

Y’all know the phrase “a Sunday well spent brings a week of content” — right?  I try to live by that and pack my Sundays, or actually my entire weekends, full of goodness to carry me through five long days of work and parenting.  But sometimes I think the phrase should be “a weekend well spent brings a week of wishing it was still the weekend.”  I know I’m going to be wishing for the weekend all week, because it was good (not perfect, but nothing ever is) and I wish it could have gone on forever.  Saturday brought a long-anticipated event – Hamilton at the Kennedy Center!  Steve and I saw the show on Broadway last year, and have been scheming a way to get back in the room where it happens ever since.  We were thrilled when we scored tickets to the touring company’s performance here in D.C. this summer – and while I’d love to make it back to Broadway sooner than later, the quality of the performances was just as good.  We danced in our seats, tried not to sing along (so tempting, though) and I sobbed through the second act.  (Forgiveness – can you imagine? – pass me the tissues.)

Sunday was just a slow, quiet day.  I baked another loaf of sourdough, this time with chopped chives and rosemary from my garden, and got an even better result than last week – wahoo!  I thought about experimenting with a different recipe, but decided there was plenty of time for that once I got the basics down.  But look out, dinner rolls and fougasse – I’m coming for you.  The rest of the day was spent FaceTiming with Grandma in Florida, reading stories on the couch, watching SING, and taking Peanut to the library (the bag of books I returned weighed more than she did – glad those are out of the house).  The only flies in the ointment were that I had to do some work, and that Nugget had a massive tantrum in the morning (and I didn’t handle it well – I haven’t been sleeping very well and I was much too tired to deal with his nonsense).  But all in all, this was a good one, and I wish it didn’t have to end.

Reading.  Busy, but spotty, reading week.  The early part of the week was devoted to Summer, by Edith Wharton, which I loved – of course.  The only way to improve that reading experience would have been to read it in the Berkshires, but one cannot have everything in this life (as Charity Royall learns).  Then I moved on to The Coldest Winter Ever, because I am trying to read more books from the PBS “Great American Read” list.  And, oh my – I can’t recall the last book that I actually finished while hating it so intensely.  I got through the first half trying to convince myself that Winter was a modern, Brooklynite Scarlett O’Hara.  By the time I realized that wasn’t going to work, it was too late to give up on it.  I can’t even tell you how happy I was to finish.  And I had to swing as far in the opposite direction as possible for the next couple of reads, just to shake that one off.  Fortunately, I had a few more delightfully bookish essays to read in the fifth volume of Slightly Foxed, and then, still looking for total comfort, I turned to News from Thrush Green, and sank right back into that lovely, slow-paced world.  Just what the doctor ordered.

Watching.  HAMILTON!  HAMILTON!  HAMILTON!  HAMILTON!  (The code word is Rochambeau, dig me?)  And at home, Steve and I are slowly working our way through the latest season of The Great British Baking Show (or at least, the latest season to drop on us Yanks) and loving every minute.  That is quite possibly the most charming, comforting show ever made.  I’m starting to develop theories for how to succeed in the tent and piling Mary Berry and Paul Hollywood cookbooks into my Amazon wish list.

Listening.  The usual – all the podcasts.  I’m up-to-date on my favorite bookish show, The Book Riot Podcast, and have been dipping into my stash of episodes of Bonnets at Dawn, including listening to a lovely episode about the girls’ week as volunteer docents in Elizabeth Gaskell’s house.  Visitors can TOUCH THE BOOKS and SIT IN THE CHAIRS?  Now I absolutely have to go to Manchester so I can sit at Elizabeth Gaskell’s dining room table in the very spot where she put pen to paper and gave life to the absolutely delightful Margaret Hale and John Thornton.

Making.  Bread, bread, bread!  Not only am I getting over my fear of yeast baking, I am absolutely falling in love with the process.  I am in the phase where I want to learn everything there is to know about bread-baking and I wish I could make a loaf every weekend.  I’m contenting myself with studying the basics and whipping up a loaf of basic sourdough every weekend, but… the artisan bread pot is coming.  It’s only a matter of time.

Blogging.  My top ten favorite books read this year – so far – on Wednesday, and musings about trying to live life at a slower pace on Friday.  Check in with me then!

Loving.  I can’t possibly express how lovely it was to be back in the room where it happens, the room where it happens, the room where it happens – Hamilton is like nothing I’ve ever seen (or listened to, and we listen A LOT) and I’m so glad that Steve is as big of a #hamilfan #theatregeek as I am.  Because it’s so much more fun when you have someone to share it with!  (Angelica, tell this man John Adams spends the summer with his family // Angelica, tell my wife John Adams doesn’t have a real job anyway…)

Asking.  What are you reading this week?

Grinding the gears on the way-back machine, back in August of 2013 (can it really be that long ago?) I joined The Classics Club.  The basic idea behind the Classics Club challenge is this: choose 50 (or more) classics – they can be books you’ve never read or old favorites that you want to re-read – and pick a date five years in the future, by which point you will have read and written about every book on the list.  Sounds fun, yes?  Well – in August of 2013 I was a stay-at-home mom with one easygoing baby, who slept regularly and was a breeze to care for.  I’m sure you see where this is going.

Why settle for fifty when I could read one hundred classics in five years?  It seemed perfectly doable.  I tend to read about 100 books per year no matter what I do – sometimes 102, sometimes 98 – and over five years, that would average out to 20% of my reading being devoted to classics.  Considering I love classics, 20% seemed easy.  And 2018 seemed so far away.

For whatever reason, I didn’t manage to pull it off.  My five year deadline is coming up, and I have barely scratched the surface of my classics list.  I’m not actually sure why not.  Over the course of new jobs, moves, another pregnancy and newborn days I’ve kept up a steady pace of reading, yet for some reason I haven’t read the books on the list.  I can’t explain it.  So I have to admit failure on this challenge.  But I love the Classics Club community, and I want to try again.  So here we go – a new list, targeted for completion by July 27, 2023.

  • Doctor Thorne, by Anthony Trollope
  • Framley Parsonage, by Anthony Trollope
  • The Small House at Allington, by Anthony Trollope
  • The Last Chronicle of Barset, by Anthony Trollope
  • The House of Mirth, by Edith Wharton
  • Sanditon, by Jane Austen
  • Wives and Daughters, by Elizabeth Gaskell
  • Mary Barton, by Elizabeth Gaskell
  • Ruth, by Elizabeth Gaskell
  • Sylvia’s Lovers, by Elizabeth Gaskell
  • Invisible Man, by Ralph Ellison
  • A Passage to India, by E.M. Forster
  • Washington Square, by Henry James
  • Queen Lucia, by E.F. Benson (re-read)
  • Miss Mapp, by E.F. Benson
  • Lucia in London, by E.F. Benson
  • Mapp and Lucia, by E.F. Benson
  • The Worshipful Lucia, by E.F. Benson
  • Trouble for Lucia, by E.F. Benson
  • The Garden Party, by Katherine Mansfield
  • Mrs. Dalloway, by Virginia Woolf
  • Beloved, by Toni Morrison
  • Song of Solomon, by Toni Morrison
  • East of Eden, by John Steinbeck
  • The Greek Myths, by Robert Graves
  • The Three Musketeers, by Alexandre Dumas
  • Their Eyes Were Watching God, by Zora Neale Hurston
  • Silas Marner, by George Eliot
  • Daniel Deronda, by George Eliot
  • Romola, by George Eliot
  • The Pickwick Papers, by Charles Dickens
  • Great Expectations, by Charles Dickens
  • The Song of the Lark, by Willa Cather
  • Everything that Rises Must Converge, by Flannery O’Connor
  • Delta Wedding, by Eudora Welty (re-read)
  • The Iliad, by Homer
  • The Odyssey, by Homer
  • Three Men on the Bummel, by Jerome K. Jerome
  • The Professor, by Charlotte Bronte
  • Shirley, by Charlotte Bronte
  • Agnes Grey, by Anne Bronte (re-read)
  • The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, by Anne Bronte (re-read)
  • The Floating Admiral, by the Members of the Detection Club
  • The Color Purple, by Alice Walker
  • Moby-Dick, by Herman Melville
  • The Silmarillion, by J.R.R. Tolkien
  • Things Fall Apart, by Chinua Achebe
  • Where Angels Fear to Tread, by E.M. Forster
  • The Priory, by Dorothy Whipple
  • The Village, by Marghanita Laski

And there it is!  Only time will tell whether this attempt goes any better than the last.  If only I could figure out where my roadblocks were for the past five years – it’s not like I haven’t read 100 books, or a bunch of classics.  Maybe I just picked the wrong one.  So – anyway – here goes nothin’.

Do you participate in reading challenges?  Which ones?  (Like I need more…)