Category Archives: Challenges!

TSS – The Classics Club

So, as far as I can tell, my last Sunday Salon was in December 2010. I was a religious Sunday Saloner, but, and this is a running theme in my life, I got lazy and a little burned out about having a non-review post each month. Now, though, I have the opposite problem. I have so many things to talk about and none of them are reviews. I’m done writing reviews about books that are just OK. Excellent books? Yes. Horrible books? Absolutely. I used to want to write a review for every book I read, but there are just some books I don’t have an original thought about. See every John Green book ever and Kavaleir and Clay.

In any case, I think I’ll reinstate my weekly Sunday Salon posts. For whatever reason, I’m currently obsessed with creating reading lists and setting myself up for failure. After all these years of blogging, I know myself. My reading lists and goals, like the recent Orange Longlist goal, are things that I would like to finish, but I never really beat myself up about it if I don’t. I don’t know that I’ve ever finished a reading challenge I set for myself (see: recent TBR Dare failure), but I’ve also never stressed out about it. So when Jillian’s Classics Club was announced… well, it was the perfect opportunity for me to make yet another list that I may or may not finish.

Essentially The Classics Club is a list of classic books you would like to read in 5 years. You need to choose 50+ classics , set an end date, and then comment on Jillian’s blog.

And now, my list! I apologize in advance: I did not alphabetize this list. I just wrote it as I thought of books I wanted to read or saw them on various other lists.

Start Date – 3/10/12
End date – 3/10/17

Rereads

1. Jane Eyre – Charlotte Brontë
2. The Grapes of Wrath – John Steinbeck
3. Their Eyes Were Watching God – Zora Neale Hurston
4. To Kill A Mockingbird – Harper Lee
5. Something Wicked This Way Comes –  Ray Bradbury
6. We Have Always Lived in the Castle – Shirley Jackson
7. The Things They Carried – Tim O’Brien
8. Howl – Allen Ginsberg
9. Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead – Tom Stoppard
10. Hamlet – Shakespeare
11. Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf – Edward Albee

Poetry

1. The Collected Poems of Dylan Thomas – Dylan Thomas
2. The Collected Poems of W. B. Yeats  – W. B. Yeats
3. T. S. Eliot: Collected Poems1909-1962 – T. S. Eliot
4. H. D.: Collected Poems 19-12-1944 – H. D.
5. The Collected Poems of Langston Hughes – Langston Hughes
6. Birthday Letters – Ted Hughes
7. Leaves of Grass – Walt Whitman
8. Ariel: The Restored Edition – Sylvia Plath
9. The Collected Poems of Edna St. Vincent Millay – Edna St. Vincent Millay
10. Selected Poems (William Carlos Williams) – William Carlos Williams
11. Selected Poems – Gwendolyn Brooks

Prose 

Pre-1700

1. The Illiad – Homer
2. The Odyssey –  Homer
3. Something by Shakespeare
4. Historia verderdera de la conquista de la Nueva España – Bernal Díaz del Castillo

1700s

1. The Monk – Matthew Lewis
2. A Vindication of the Rights of Man – Mary Wollstonecraft
3. The Sorrows of Young Werther – Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
4.  The Expedition of Humphry Clinker – Tobias Smollett
5. The Mysteries of Uldolpho – Ann Radcliffe

1800s

1. Emma – Jane Austen
2. Walden – Henry David Thoreau
3. The Essential Writings of Ralph Waldo Emerson – Ralph Waldo Emerson
4. Wuthering Heights – Emily Bronte
5. The Secret Garden – Frances Hodgson Burnett
6. The Woman in White – Wilkie Collins
7. The Origins of Species – Charles Darwin
8. North and South – Elizabeth Gaskell
9. Tess of the D’Ubervilles – Thomas Hardy
10. The Complete Sherlock Holmes – Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
11. The Haunted House – Charles Dickens et. al.
12. The Prince and the Pauper – Mark Twain
13. A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court – Mark Twain
14. Shank’s Mare (Tokaidochu Hizakurige) – Ikku Jippensha and Sadakazu Shigeta
15. Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea – Jules Verne
16. The Lost World – Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
17. Great Expectations – Charles Dickens
18. Los pazos de Ulloa – Emilia Pardo Bazán

1900s

1. I Am A Cat – Natsumi Soseki
2. Respiración artificial – Ricardo Piglia
3. Go Tell It on the Mountain – James Baldwin
4. Dust Tracks on A Road: An Autobiography – Zora Neale Hurston
5. Gigi – Collette
6. La muerte de Artemio Cruz – Carlos Fuentes
7. El aleph – Jorge Luis Borges
8. Woman in the Dunes – Kobo Abe
9. Nip the Buds, Shoot the Kids – Kenzaburo Oe
10. The Great Gatsby – F. Scott Fitzgerald
11. The Old Man and the Sea – Ernest Hemmingway
12. Of Human Bondage – W. Somerset Maugham
13. The Painted Veil  – W. Somerset Maugham
14. The Razor’s Edge – W. Somerset Maugham
15. East of Eden – John Steinbeck
16. The Waves – Virginia Woolf
17. Orlando – Virginia Woolf
18. To the Lighthouse – Virginia Woolf
19. A Room of One’s Own – Virginia Woolf
20. O, Pioneers! – Willa Cather
21. My Ántonia – Willa Cather
22. Age of Innocence – Edith Wharton
23. Ethan Frome – Edith Wharton
24. Rebecca – Daphne du Maurier



This list comes in at 69 books, so I’ll have to read 14 a year or so. I can see future-Lu laughing at my ambitious Spanish reading plans, but I’d like to read more books in Spanish to keep up my language skills, so this is the perfect opportunity. I’m excited to get started! And look, I just barely made this in before Sunday ended.


Quick reminder

This is a (very late) reminder that the Read More/Blog More Poetry Event post for February will go up tomorrow. You can sign up with your link over at Kelly’s blog. I can’t wait to read about the poetry you read in February!


A Moby Dick Readalong for Your Winter Blues

So when I posted my TBR Dare/Challenge post, I cheekily listed Moby Dick on there, thinking there was little chance I’d actually read it. But then so many people commented saying that they loved Moby Dick and that I should start of 2012 with that particular novel. Of all the books I listed, more people mentioned Moby Dick. Then it seemed to be everywhere. People were writing blog posts about it, saying how much they loved or hated it. Finally, I just decided that Moby Dick will be one of the first books I read in 2012. Someone (Jillian, perhaps?) pointed me toward the Conquering Moby Dick Readalong by The Blue Bookshelf and I’m thrilled to join in.

I’ve already started reading and let me just tell you, I love it so far! It’s so interesting and actually funny in some parts, though I’m not entirely convinced it’s supposed to be funny. Most of all, though, I love the narrator and his voice and I think there are some truly beautiful passages about the sea. I can’t wait to keep reading more. So if you think you might like to join in, the first post goes up on January 12! I know it’s soon, but I’m surprised how quickly I’ve been reading Moby Dick. We’ll see if I still feel the same way when I’m 200 pages in, but so far, so good.

Thanks for convincing me to read Moby Dick, y’all!


Books I Need to Read in 2012

So, I’ve got this really philosophical post waiting in the wings about lots of things, but I’ve decided that I’m not going to post that just yet. Instead I’m going to announce the great TBR Challenge of 2012. You see, up until I moved away from my hometown, I was a library fiend. I read and checked out books like it was my job. In that time frame the amount of books I owned also grew. And grew. And grew. Yet, I still rarely read the books I own.

It’s a familiar story, yes? So familiar that there are TWO TBR Challenges going on right now. I haven’t participated in a challenge in a while, but this is one that I was planning on doing anyway, so why not participate in both? Is that allowed? I say it is. One is the 2012 To Be Read Pile Challenge over at Roof Beam Reader and the other is the TBR Double Dare over at Ready When You Are, CB. The rules are slightly different, so it’s safe to say I’ll have two different lists for each challenge. In the mean time, I’ll get all these books read and then cleaned off my shelves! Unless, of course, they’re too good and I have to keep the to myself.

I’ll be honest. I’m entirely freaked out by how many books are on this list. I decided to record all the books I have on my shelves right this moment. The rest are still packed away at my parents house from when I moved. This is not even a quarter of my books, not even close. How did I acquire so many?! It’s going to take me YEARS to read them all! Before book blogging I owned zero books that I hadn’t read, because I would go to the store, buy books, come home, read. Now look at me!

I’d like to read this entire list in 2012. That’s it. None of the books from home, just these. I’m sure I won’t get through all of them. I know me. I’d really like to try, though. Since I usually read around 100 books a year, give or take a few, that will still give me 35 books, give or take a few, to read outside of this list. I might get a head start on some of them, too.

I want to start 2012 out with a good one. Anything from this list that blew your mind?

Books for the 2012 TBR Pile Challenge

(Must be published before 2011, 12 books total)

1. Proust Was A Neuroscientist by Jonah Lehrer
2. The House of Tomorrow by Peter Bognanni
3. Charlotte Gray by Sebastian Faulks
4. Tokyo Cancelled  by Rana Dasgupta
5. Empire Falls by Richard Russo
6. The Amnesiac by Sam Taylor
7. The Friday Night Knitting Club by Kate Jacobs
8. The Bridge on the Drina by Ivo Andric
9. Native Guard by Natasha Trethewey
10. The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay by Michael Chabon
11. Rocket Men: The Epic Story of the First Men on the Moon by Craig Nelson
12. Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell

Alternates

1. Sacred Games by Vikram Chandra
2. Moby Dick by Herman Melvill

Books for the TBR Double Dare

(Only read books on already on your shelf before 1/1/12, except for exceptions. My exceptions: any book clubs, The Fault in Our Stars by John Green, possibly all the books on this list.)

1.  What You See in the Dark by Manuel Muñoz
2. Cinder by Marissa Meyer
3. Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke
4. The Lost Art of Keeping Secrets by Eva Rice
5. The Weird Sisters by Eleanor Brown
6. Burning Bright by Tracy Chevalier
7. The Pattern in the Carpet  by Margaret Drabble
8. Lost and Found by Carolyn Parkhurst
9. Started Early, Took My Dog by Kate Atkinson
10. Our Tragic Universe by Scarlett Thomas
11. The Constant Gardener by John Le Carré
12. Memorial by Bruce Wagner
13. A Happy Marriage by Rafael Yglesias
14. City of Tranquil Light by Bo Caldwell
15. 13 edited by James Howe
16. Sea of Poppies by Amitav Ghosh
17. I Thought You Were Dead by Pete Nelson
18. In the Garden of Beasts by Erik Larson
19. The Coldest Night by Robert Olmstead
20. Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Random Riggs
21. Truth & Beauty by Anne Patchett
22. The Best of It by Kay Ryan
23. Let’s Take the Long Way Home by Gail Caldwell
24. The Beekeeper’s Lament by Hannah Nordhaus
25. So Much Pretty by Cara Hoffman
26. Emma by Jane Austen
27. The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett
28. Imaginary Homelands by Salman Rushdie
29. A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan
30. A Homemade Life by Molly Wizenberg
31.  Lions of the West by Robert Morgan
32. A Voyage Long and Strange by Tony Horwitz
33. Escape on the Pearl by Mary Kay Ricks
34. Listening Is an Act of Love by Dave Isay & StoryCorps
35. Reading Like A Writer by Francine Prose
36. An Atlas of Impossible Longing by Anuradha Roy
37. The Best American Comics 2011 edited by Alison Bechdel
38. Our Magnificent Bastard Tongue by John McWhorter
39. Evening is the Whole Day by Preeta Samarasan
40. The Lost City of Z by David Grann
41. Matterhorn  by Karl Marlentes
42. A Death in the Family by James Agee
43. The Wordy Shipmates by Sarah Vowell
44. Manhood for Amateurs by Michael Chabon
45. Possesion by AS Byatt
46. The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot
47. Exley by Brock Clarke
48. Vita Nova by Louise Glück
49. The Seven Ages by Louise Glück
50. Averno by Louise Glück
51. Nothing: A Portrait of Insomnia by Blake Butler
52. The Wrong Blood by Manuel De Lope
53. Peace Like A River by Leif Enger
54. On Borrowed Wings by Chandra Prasad
55. Native Speaker by Chang Rae Lee


Happy Birthday to…

Happy birthday to… ME.

The birthday girl, 21 years ago.

Yes, blogland, today I am 22.

So I thought I would write 22 things I would like to accomplish in my 23rd year.  Some of them are big goals, some of them are simple, all of them are important.  In no particular order:

1. Write a 150 page minimum thesis about Roberto Bolaño. Let’s start big, right?  This is going to have to happen this year, no matter what!

2. Travel to a part of the USA I have never visited before. Going to Spain and talking to folks made me realize just how little of my own country I’ve really seen.

3. Keep reading amazing books.  I’m not too worried about this one.

4. Embrace all the changes in my life instead of being stressed out by them.  Things have already started changing in my life and I can’t let it always stress me out.  Things are always going to change, but I should accept those changes as exciting opportunities, not terrifying moments.

5. Move to a new city.  This is another one that’s probably inevitable this year, but more than just move to a new city, I want to make that new city my own.  I’m going to live it and love it and find all the fabulous things about it.

6. Write more.  Though I haven’t officially started working on my NaNoWriMo project, maybe that will get me going on this one.

7. Keep maintaining a healthy lifestyle. I’m really proud of myself – I have managed to maintain a gym membership and have kept trying hard to eat well.  I’m definitely not going to let that taper off in my 23rd year.

8. Cook more! Always cook extra to freeze.  I love cooking, I just need to plan ahead a little better and find the time to really cook what I love.  I want to buy less frozen food and prepared food and begin cooking naturally.

9. Read more of the books I have on my shelves. They’re getting overwhelming and I need to read more before I acquire more.  I can’t rely so much on my library until these books are read!

10.  Clean more.  I should donate things I don’t use anymore, like all the clothing I have that I do not wear.  Also, anyone who knows me well knows that I’m more than a little bit messy.  I’m going to spend this year trying to change that.  I’ll make my bed every day.  (Maybe.)

11.  Refinish this old dining room chair I have in my room.  My dad gave it to me from his old dining room set and right now it’s pretty ugly and a little bit broken, but I have some grand ideas for it that just might involve crochet and purple paint.

12. Learn how to sew, better. I know the basics of sewing and can sew some very simple things, but I have a sewing machine and I want to learn how to use it to make my own clothes and gifts.

13. Finish my granny square blanket.  I started crocheting a blanket before I left for Spain and I’m determined to finish it this year.

14. Enjoy every minute of my life. Sometimes we all need a reminder to enjoy the life we have.  I am guilty of spending too much time thinking about the future and what’s going to happen that I miss what is happening.

15. Keep up Regular Rumination.  I think I let my blog slip a little this past summer and I’d like to keep it up a little bit better.  I need to figure out what is working and what isn’t.

16. Start a food blog.  Notice I didn’t say maintain or keep up with or successfully start a food blog, but I have always wanted a food blog, even if it is just a way to get me cooking more.

17. Make a photo light box.  I want to have more professional looking photographs for this blog and my potential food blog.

18. Save some money.  It’s time to start building a savings if I can, especially if I’m going to be moving to a new city.

19. Start learning another language.  I ran into people in Europe who spoke at least a little bit of more than 3 languages.  I speak 2 languages, and I have studied 3 (other than English), but two of those languages I can barely say hello in.  I want to have a somewhat working knowledge of third language.  I’m thinking German.

20. Never take my loved ones for granted.  I have an amazing family, amazing friends and an amazing boyfriend.  I need to keep telling them that they are the best thing in my life and that I appreciate them every day.

21. Start collecting furniture.  This one is also related to moving to a new city.  I need to start building a collection of kitchen supplies and furniture.

22. Don’t be afraid.  Sometimes I’m timid, shy or nervous about myself and the decisions I make.  I need to own them.  I need to stand up for myself and not be so afraid of making mistakes.

So what does a book blogger do on her birthday?  Offer a present to her loyal readers!  I will be giving away two books today.  If you leave a comment on this post, you will automatically be entered in the giveaway.  First place winner gets first choice, second place winner gets whatever is left over!  I’ll draw a winner during Sunday Salon! Your book choices are:

  • The Double by José Saramago
  • The Yiddish Policeman’s Union by Michael Chabon

Good luck! :)


TSS – An Announcement

Good morning!  I hope you’re having a wonderfully lazy Sunday morning… or a productive one, if that’s how you roll.  That is definitely not  how I like to roll, but unfortunately that’s how it has to be this morning.  I’m heading back to school today, so I’m packing and getting ready for some long driving.  I’ve read a lot of great books this week, which will be reviewed… eventually.  I have been feeling very overwhelmed the past few days and I’m not sure why.  There’s nothing going on that’s particularly overwhelming, but I think it’s just the pre-school jitters.

Anyway!  I have some very exciting news.  After much planning and deliberating, Jason and I are finally ready to go public with our brand new challenge for 2010!  I know that you are already signed up for a billion challenges, but this one is really worth making it a billion and one.  A lot of bloggers have been talking about wanting to read more poetry and Jason and I decided that we should have a more inclusive challenge that incorporated more genres of poetry.  I started the VPR Poetry Challenge back in May, but it was only for  twentieth century poetry.  This challenge gives you a lot more room to explore different time periods and genres.   The challenge is called Clover, Bee & Reverie: A Poetry Challenge, after one of Emily Dickinson’s poems and I’m super excited about it!

Can I entice you with pretty buttons?

There might be some opportunities for mini-challenges and guest posts and who knows what other surprises along the way!  Head on over to the blog to sign up and we really can’t wait to see you there :D


On resolutions and reading in 2010

I swore off making resolutions for quite a few years.  Mostly my life was controlled by everything around me and I didn’t need resolutions adding disappointment into the mix, so I just went along for the ride.  I don’t know if that’s necessarily the reason I would have given you then, but now that  I’m a few years removed from high school that seems right.  Now that I have a little bit more control in my life, it definitely is time for me to not only make resolutions, but make loosely defined plans that will help me make 2010 the best year yet.  I’m not really one for following strict plans or guidelines, in fact I seem to take a perverse pleasure in doing the exact opposite of what I plan most of the time, but I could use just a little structure to the year.  To that end I have a few personal plans and reading plans that I’d like to follow.

The goal of 2010 is to find balance.  So I bring you 10 goals for 2010, all focused on balancing my life.

1) Healthier equals happier.  This covers a lot of ground, but overall I think that I need to find a healthier lifestyle.  I need to eat-in more, instead of grabbing food to go on the road, and I need to exercise  more.   Finding a class to keep me motivated would not be a bad idea.  This isn’t necessarily about losing weight (though that would be a welcome side effect), but instead it is about being as healthy as possible.

2) Spending does not always equal happier.  Spending less money and saving more money will be a huge goal of 2010.  I want to take a big trip in the next five years, so I’d like to make that possible.

3) Stress-free equals happier.  I’m prone to stressing out about things that I don’t need to.  I’m going to work hard to find the little things that make each day special and cut back on the unnecessary stress.

4) Read more classics!  I firmly believe that reading the classics can only help you to understand contemporary literature even more.  I would like to read at least 15 classics published before 1970.

5) Use challenges as a way to focus reading, to read more books by women, by people of color, by authors from different countries.

6) Find more of a balance between the genres of fiction, non-fiction, recently published and older novels, YA and middle grade.

7) Read more poetry.  This will probably be a little easier considering the sorta secret surprise Jason and I are working on.

8 ) Read more short stories.

9) Find more time in my life for things like crocheting and cooking healthy meals.

10) Write more.  This is a big one.  One of my biggest dreams in my life is to become a published author.  I have been focusing heavily on poetry for the last four or five years and will continue to write poetry, but I would also like to write more fiction.  Over all, I don’t write nearly enough.  For this goal, I need more structure.  I would like to write 500 words of fiction and 1 poem per week.

I can get behind all of these goals and I’m really hopeful for 2010.  I love the new year just for that fresh feeling you get at the beginning of the year for all the great things this year will bring.   I hope all of you had a safe holiday and are as excited about 2010 as I am.


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