About a month ago, I decided I want to read all the English translations of Homer’s The Odyssey. Given the dozens in existence, “all” will probably be interpreted loosely. But that is not the subject of today’s discussion. Today, I want to talk about, well, what the title of this piece says. Continue reading “Why I’m reading all the English translations of The Odyssey”
The Odyssey by Homer, translated by E. V. Rieu
Helen and Trojan Women by Euripides
The Poems of Hesiod, translated by Barry B. Powell
Lately, I’ve been thinking about my first response to the first line of Emily Wilson’s translation of The Odyssey: “Tell me about a complicated man.” Relief. It was a feeling similar to when you have a word on the tip of your tongue but can’t recall it. It’s maddening. For a second, you think you have it, but it slips away. And then someone says it. They give you the word, and now you can relax. Continue reading “Status of the universe: It’s complicated”
Mid-January feels like a good time for a reading year review of 2017. In recent years, I’ve done my best to stop fussing over how many books or pages I read as compared to an arbitrary goal or my previous reading year. But two developments this year captured my attention.
Every last time I create a TBR, I fail to follow it. At least, that’s how it feels. I think one time, for a readathon, I read some of the books I said I’d read. Sort of?
Point is, I want to read a ton of books. Literally, one entire ton. So many that I can’t even keep track of them. It is not possible. Or maybe the part that’s impossible is actually reading all the books I want to read. Continue reading “Don’t call it a TBR”
The way I put it in the title makes it sounds as if I literally became an e-reader. Like I’m in a Franz Kafka story, but instead of waking up as a cockroach, I woke up one morning as a Nook GlowLight Plus.
Maybe that would make a good 21st century reboot, now I think about it. But no. I haven’t turned into an electronic device. (I’ll bet you figured that part out, though.)
Back in October, I was excited to learn that a book 11 in Alexander McCall Smith’s 44 Scotland Street series existed. Finishing book 10 in September had left me feeling melancholy. I’d thought it was the last one. To find out just a few weeks later that an eleventh book existed felt a little like finding out a friend who moved away is coming back to town. Continue reading “Thoughts on reading book 11 in 44 Scotland Street”
Last month, I saw the attached photo about books and memories. I immediately began thinking of the books I’d want to experience for the first time. These included my favorite books from childhood, the Harry Potter series, A Tale of Two Cities and David Copperfield by Charles Dickens, among endless others.
But when I though about it further, I’m not so sure. Continue reading “Would you want to erase your memories of favorite books?”
I’m a strong believer in having more than one book going at a time. It gives me options. If one book is super heavy (metaphorically speaking), the other book can provide a mood change. Or if one book is quite sad or sends my brain into overdrive, I can have a lighter book to read at bedtime.
Read just one book at a time? I say laugh in the face of stuffy convention that dictates that’s how it’s done!
Anyway…this is what I said to myself last week when I was strolling through Barnes and Noble – with no intention whatsoever of buying any books at all – until I saw this book:
I’ve seen it, heard about it, wondered about it. Granted, I couldn’t recall anything specific about it, just general praise and a vague notion that the book sounded interesting.
It’s a cool cover, isn’t it? It might actually be my favorite of 2016. You have the vaguely 1970s vibe of the photo. The title text is bold, but the notes and arrows annotate it in a way that seems to play foil.
So I picked the book up and read the jacket copy. I learned this is a fantasy YA novel set in the 16th century. Conveniently enough, that’s the one category left in my When Are You Reading? challenge. I learned it is comical. I learned it takes Liberties with History, specifically with the story of Lady Jane Grey. She lost her head (literally) during the English succession drama of 1553.
Usually, when I read historical fiction, I prefer it render history faithfully. I’m not expecting factual accuracy in every regard, but a spirit of faithfulness to the period would be nice. However…My Lady Jane just sounded too entertaining to pass up. (Also, my reading challenge!)
So I bought it and brought it home and was super excited to read it, and…I couldn’t do it. I was still only 100 pages into Jane Eyre at the time. (I’m now only just over 300…with about 250 still to go.) I worried My Lady Jane would distract me from Jane Eyre. I worried that shuffling between the two worlds would dilute my experience of both. Especially with two very different Janes to keep track of. Part of me wanted to test the theory by pushing myself to read the novels together. In the end, though, I couldn’t do it. I’m sticking with Jane Eyre to the bitter (ahem) end.
This whole thing surprised me. What happened to laughing maniacally in the face of convention? I asked myself. But when I looked at the books I’ve read in pairs, it seems I typically pair fiction with nonfiction. I can’t actually think of a time I read two novels actively at the same time. I sometimes take breaks from books I’m not feeling. Other times, for bedtime reading, I’ll reread favorite chapters from favorite books. But full-scale engagement in two fiction worlds, simultaneously? No.
Someone who follows me on Goodreads might say, Hang on, haven’t I seen rows of novels on your “currently reading” shelf? Admittedly, that’s quite likely. In truth, though, a novel sitting on my “currently reading” shelf for three months is not a novel I’m actively reading. It’s one I started, got distracted from, but want to return to. It stays on the shelf as a reminder because, for a long time, I refused to keep a “want to read” section. I was (justifiably) afraid of what it would become. But…I finally caved. So now, it I haven’t picked a book up in a month or so, I move it to “want to read.”
What about you? Do you read multiple books at once? If so, what genres? Do you read more than one novel at the same time?
I promised myself I wouldn’t do it: I promised myself I wouldn’t overwhelm myself by curating a “want to read” list on Goodreads. And now I’ve gone and done it.
Admission: I didn’t use Goodreads
much ever before this year. I had an account, but it was like…
If I did visit Goodreads, it was to look up a book or quote, not to track the books I read. For that, I had an Excel spreadsheet. Which was fun, for a while. It allowed me to create tables, charts, and pies of random information related to my reading. The pie charts were my favorite. Who can argue with pie?
via GIPHY – This hamster eating a tiny pie has nothing whatsoever to do with my reading life. It’s just too cute not to share. Squeee!
What changed is, I got bored of my Excel spreadsheets. After a few years, it began to feel sort of coldly efficient, like I was tracking sales figures or medical symptoms. I keep a reading journal, but it’s not the most helpful for at-a-glance information. Sometimes, I want to know what my most read genre was in a given year or how to spell the name of an author whose book I read months ago.
To summarize: I was looking for a new way to track my reading. Continue reading “I started a “want to read” list on Goodreads & now I’m scared”