Sunday, December 20, 2009

TSS 12.20.09

Many book bloggers are starting to post end-of-the-year summaries and I am truly enjoying the annual reviews. I am not quite prepared to do that yet (perhaps next Sunday), but I am starting to think about my reading goals for next year. While I love a good reading challenge - and I plan to join more and more as my life becomes less hectic (if there is such a time), I did learn this year that I am driven by the moment in my personal reading selections, not by previous commitments. I am trying to be quite selective in the challenges that I do join so that I do not have these feelings of failure at the end of 2010 that I feel now.

I have also been thinking about reading goals for a lifetime -- that is, books that I would like to read at some point, but fully realize that I will probably not have the time to read in 2010. One personal challenge that I have is to read the original Mystery of Edwin Drood by Charles Dickens, Dan Simmons' novel Drood, and Matthew Pearl's The Last Dickens all in succession. I am fascinated by this unfinished novel by Britain's most famous author, and I think this will be a great way to appease that curiosity.

Another reading goal that I have is to read all 6 of Jane Austen's original novels (plus some of her juvenilia), as well as several of the modern day spin-offs of those novels. I teach Pride and Prejudice, and each year I find something notable that I had missed in previous readings. I have heard great reviews of Pam Aidan's Darcy Trilogy - which retells the P&P story from Darcy's point of view. Personally, I have always thought that Darcy is too harshly criticized in the beginning, and I would love to hear his side of the story. I have also heard wonderful acclaim for Rebecca Ann Collins' Pemberley Chronicles series (I think there are now a total of 7 books) that picks up the P&P story where Jane Austen left off. This would require a block of concentrated time to read all these in succession -but I think it would be such fun!

I would also like to start to solidify my personal taste in mysteries - and then focus on those subgenres - rather than hit or miss as I have done lately. I only just discovered that I truly love this style of writing, but I had no idea there were SO many different authors and subjects available. I have purchased several different ones at local second hand thrift stores in an effort to give me a wide overview. I am quickly learning, however, that not all mysteries are created equal. I think if I can learn to pare down my interests, I will enjoy a focused study. Some authors that I know I really want to experience are Laurie R. King, Louise Penney, P. D. James, and Elizabeth George.

Finally, I want to read a complete series - from start to finish - sometime soon. Isn't sad that I have NEVER done that?! I have never really been interested in series before, except when I was younger and read Nancy Drew. But even though, I never read all the books in the series. I do not have a particular series selected. I have given some thought to reading Harry Potter or The Lord of the Rings (although I must admit that Tolkien's Middle Earth I find more than a little bit intimidating - especially since I am not well-versed in fantasy fiction). OR I might prefer to start with a mystery and read the entire collection (some that come to mind are P. D. James' Adam Dalgliesh, Louise Penney's Armand Gamache, Agatha Christie's Miss Marple, or Victoria Thompson's the Gaslight series which take place in 19th century New York City)

While my bookshelves are filled with many other TBR novels patiently waiting to be read, these goals I know I will eventually complete at some point in the future. I need to learn to balance my reading to include the "just released" novels that are a constant source of temptation - especially after reading such wonderful book blog reviews - with the known classics that I wish to experience for myself. If you have any words of wisdom to help me achieve this balance, I would greatly appreciate it!

11 comments:

Sandy Nawrot said...

I have no wisdom to share, because my reading life is a bit of a mess. I run around like a chicken without a head, which is why I need challenges to keep me focused! I think your goals are great ones. I'm with you on the Dickens. I love Dan Simmons, but everytime I see Drood, I get scared. I too would love to read all of Austen's works. I actually went out and bought the two book set but have read only two! As far as series go, you have to read Harry Potter. I've read the series several times, and it is almost too much fun to be legal.

Diane said...

Molly,

Sounds like some well thought out goals. I would loved to read the (3) Dickens books in succession that you mentioned as well.

I have a real problem with not being able to resist the latest releases (over 100 of the books I read in 2009 were published in 2009). I need to work on this.

Good luck in 2009, but most important --enjoy your choices.

bermudaonion said...

I bet you did read a series as a child. I'm like you - my reading is driven by the moment too. I'll try to plan a couple books ahead of time & it never works.

Vasilly said...

This is a great post, Molly! I came up with my own reading goals for next year last Sunday.Lord of the Rings is a great start for reading series but the books are really long and packed with adventure. You could try Laurie R. King's Mary Russell series. That way you can accomplish both goals of reading mystery and series. Good luck with your reading next year.

Literary Feline said...

I always enjoy the year end summaries. Like you though, I'm not quite prepared to do that yet.

I've really liked the flexibility this year of being able to choose books for reading challenges as we go rather than having a set list. As you can see from my post today, even today I'm still picking at the last moment. :-)

The crime fiction genre is huge and is full of sub-genres. I look forward to reading about your experiences as you try and narrow down your preferences.

Please don't be intimidated by Lord of the Rings. I was too before starting it and then was pleasantly surprised at how readable it is. I hope to one day read all those books again.

I hope you have a great week, Molly!

C.B. James said...

Too many books, and too little time, as usual. I'd like to reduce my TBR stack this year, but I keep on adding to it and I've started going to the library and to library book sales again.

If you find Tolkien too ambitious, I recommend the Earthsea trilogy by Ursula K. LeGuin.

Nicole (Linus's Blanket) said...

I probably won't be near ready to post a year end summary until the later part of January. I am slow like that, but I am making some preliminary lists.

I think that you will have a god time reading all of the Drood related books and I wonder how much more you will be able to pick up by reading them all back to back. The information that comes up with that topic is so fascinating.

Dani in NC said...

Like you, I read books that were part of a series, but I never read a complete series until Harry Potter. I suppose I didn't really think of a series as something that had a beginning and an end because the ones I knew were like Hardy Boys or Nancy Drew -- so many books in the series that reading all of them seemed unrealistic. Also, I ran into several instances where my library didn't have all the books in a series so I just read what they had.

Marie said...

All I can say is read what you want, when you want and enjoy it.

Jenners said...

I love that you have lifetime reading goals ... I'm not that foresighted! But you really must read the entire Harry Potter series.

Margot at Joyfully Retired said...

I enjoyed this post and your discussion on reading specific books. I'm with you on the Jane Austen books. I joined the Everything Austen Challenge but found six months was not long enough to read them for enjoyment. I'm planning to continue that challenge on my own throughout 2010 and probably into 2011.

I'm also with you on the mysteries and finding a good series. Of course, I will whole-heartedly support you if you decide to read the Miss Marple books. But whatever you choose I know it will be right for you. Good luck ro you.

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