July 25, 2013

The Summer Not-List

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I like lists.  I like the orderliness of them and the fun of crossing the items off.  They make one feel accomplished.  ("...that I might not be so uneducated in comparison to Jane Fairfax.")

However, when it comes to book lists, I am a little like Emma Woodhouse.  I can have every intention of reading all the ones I've written down, but somehow as soon as I bind myself to do it I have absolutely no interest in following through.  They are suddenly dull and uninteresting, or just not suited to my mood.  Since this has happened a number of times, I tend not to make them anymore; I don't even use the "to-read" function of Goodreads, which I think for most people is just a glorified way of taking a book under advisement so as to forget it faster. 

On the other hand, I don't like footling about.  I like structure and planning, because otherwise when I finish one book I can't decide what sort I want to read next, and so I pick up something I think will suit.  And then I am self-obliged to finish it, even if I get a quarter of the way in and realize it isn't what I wanted to read and why on earth did I pick it up when there are a score of others I actually do want to read?  I suppose that is a hazard that comes with an excessive amount of books (is there such a thing?) in one house: you can't see the forest of literature for the bookish trees. 

Last month, then, I decided I would go ahead and make a list.  Not a list of books I am going to read in a set amount of months, or anything like that: just the ones I most want or need to read, to keep me (hopefully) from being distracted by others.  It seems to have gone well enough so far.  We'll see if it keeps up.

a few of the unconquered tomes

Wuthering Heights - Emily Bronte
Oliver Twist - Charles Dickens
 Washington - Ron Chernow
Dragonwitch - Anne Elisabeth Stengl
The Conquering Family - Thomas Costain
Under Enemy Colours - S. Thomas Russell
The Mark of the Horselord - Rosemary Sutcliff
The King of Attolia - Megan Whalen Turner
God in the Dock - C.S. Lewis
The Winter Prince - Elizabeth Wein

the conquered ones

The Woman in White - Wilkie Collins
Right Ho, Jeeves - P.G. Wodehouse
The Last Plantagenets - Thomas Costain

Wodehouse hardly constitutes a grueling read, but I was careful to speckle the list with lighter works as well as ones with which you could knock a man senseless, such as Washington, or which take some trudging, like Arthur Custance's series.

the ongoing sieges

The Seed of Abraham - Albertus Pieters
Echoes of the Ancient Skies - E.C. Krupp
The Black Arrow - R.L. Stevenson
Plenilune - Jennifer Freitag

The annoying thing about reading a book that isn't yet published is, you can't boast about it on Goodreads.  What is the good of reading at all if you can't boast on Goodreads, I'd like to know?

10 comments:

  1. Sorry about the last one. Am trying to rectify. Tootle pip.

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    1. I know, I know. But really! Just...tinkerty tonk!

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  2. I agree with this last statement, but it seems, one of the books I've read has been edited since I last read it. I also hope I shall be able to finish? Read? Adamantine some day.

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    1. That's the trouble: if a book doesn't get itself published straightaway, it is liable to overhaul at a moment's notice. One never knows what plot holes a seventieth read-through might uncover!

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  3. I love lists too. I did have a similar experience to what you describe this summer—as soon as I'd posted my summer reading list on my blog, I looked at it and said to myself, "Is this really what I want to read?" But it was only a momentary doubt and I did go on to read most of it. :)

    I like my to-read list on Goodreads, mainly because I have a terrible memory and would otherwise forget about plenty of books I really do want to read. But since I never can seem to get it under a hundred books or so, sometimes it gives me a feeling of being behind with something and never able to catch up. I've got to remind myself that a to-read list is something that never really goes away. :)

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    1. Maybe it's the obligatory nature of a reading list that makes us quibble. I can be all for a book - champing at the bit to begin - but when I've told someone I intend to read it, my interest dries up. That goes for writing a book, too, which is why I tend to keep mum until it gets off the ground. How very contrary!

      Every now and then I wonder, "What if I run out of books to read?"

      ...and then I wake up.

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  4. Plenilune. How fortunate you are Jenny's sister, Abigail... *sighs* You can get to read her book, unpublished or no!

    We have to wait? *sobs*

    I love your lists. Lists are fun (when unwritten or in the present perfect tense of being scribbled). I thought I was the only one who had that problem, but no, Emma did too. I had a laugh at her 101 list of books to read when I watched the BBC version for the first time. She is such fun!

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    1. by the way, Sarah had to read Wuthering Heights for a Literature course at uni last year, and she said it was quite, quite dark and unpleasant.

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    2. Yes, I believe Wuthering Heights is one you either love or hate, and I rather anticipate being in the latter category. However, it's one of those necessary reads: I can hardly believe I've wriggled out of it this long. And I might like it. Probably not, but you never know!

      We use the "I've read two pages of Milton!" quote a lot around here. Emma's such a lark!

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  5. I have exactly the same problem with 'to read' book lists, Abigail! It's still nice to have them, though...
    Yes, I personally hated 'Wuthering Heights', but I loved 'Jane Eyre' by her sister Charlotte...one of my favourite novels of the period in fact.
    I read for Wilkie Colins, too, though it was the 'The Moonstone' - a very interesting mystery book. I enjoyed it very much (there's a movie for the book as well).

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I am a writer of historical fiction and fantasy, scribbling from my home in the United States. More importantly, I am a Christian, which flavors everything I write. My debut novel, "The Soldier's Cross," was published by Ambassador Intl. in 2010.
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The Soldier's Cross: Set in the early 15th Century, this is the story of an English girl's journey to find her brother's cross pendant, lost at the Battle of Agincourt, and of her search for peace in the chaotic world of the Middle Ages.
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