Reading Challenges

August 16, 2011

Coming Soon...

Lately I've been on a reading frenzy, but haven't had time to write and post reviews, so just a note to myself that the following books deserve their due in the coming days:

1.) The Lacuna - Barbara Kingsolver (two thumbs up!)

2.) La Sorcière de Portobello (The Witch of Portobello) - Paulo Coelho (ickkk what was I thinking?--this one was actually recommended due to several locations which I have visited that are discussed in the story--it was SO not worth it). I read it in French because it's closer to Portugese (the book's original language), but it's available in something like 74 languages, including English, according to the back cover.

3.) Dead Reckoning - Charlaine Harris (had to do a fluff reading I knew I would love to wash out the bad taste Coelho left).

4.) The Eyre Affair - Jasper Fforde (fantastic novel, easily one of my favorite reads this year and a new favorite author).

5.) Peggy Sue et les Fantômes: Le Jour du Chien Bleu (Peggy Sue and the Phantoms: The Day of the Blue Dog) - Serge Brussolo (great novel somewhere between sci-fi, dystopia & horror, unfortunately not translated into English).

6.)The Castle of Otranto - Horace Walpole (fantastically fun and charming Gothic read).

5.) Jane Eyre - Charlotte Brontë (enjoyable and well constructed, but not as creative as Emily Brontë's Wuthering Heights--since it doesn't seem like one can be discussed without mentioning the other--well, they were published the same year).

August 15, 2011

Harvard Film List Project

Originally I planned to update our film project progress via the comments section of this blog's FILM PAGE (you can read all about the cinema studies endeavors that my husband and I have decided to undertake there) because I didn't feel I had the time to write real blog entries for films AND books. I really want to continue blogging primarily about books. However, I see now how full the comments section is getting on the film page and it's not pretty, so instead I thought I'd share a few film links when available via YouTube and a few lines as a way to document our film studies. You won't find full reviews here, but I"m always happy to discuss more in-depth via the comments section. 

French director Georges Méliès (father of fantasy and sci-fi in film's earliest years of existence) is always a joy to watch. His theatrical genie paved the way for amazing special effects, as witnessed in the underwater (among other) scenes in Le Royaume des Fées (The Kingdom of the Fairies) from 1903. Here's the film in two parts:

August 10, 2011

Mid-year Progress

Initially I planned to write a six month progress report in June detailing my reading during the first half of the year for various reading challengesread-alongs, etc. that I've signed up for. At long last, here's my progress report in the 8th month of the year...better late than never, right?. 

TOTAL NUMBER OF BOOKS READ: As of 8/2011 I have read 31 titles (hmmm...I had hoped for more, but it's no so much about the number of books read, but rather the quality of what is read--not to dish fluff reading because I do it too, but there's a big difference between packing away a paranormal romance a day versus reading classics that merit a bit more reflection).

READING CHALLENGES:

First the good news: I've completed the Forgotten Treasures reading challenge. I went for Level 2 (7 books that are at least 25 years old). I actually went on to book #11 that qualifies for the challenge before realizing that I had achieved my goal (no matter--I wasn't reading said books specifically for the challenge). Perhaps by 2012 I'll have made it to the bonus round, who knows? For now, these are my reviews (click on the title) for the completion of the Forgotten Treasures challenge level 2:

1.) Persuasion - Jane Austen (1816)
2.) Pages from Cold Point & Other Stories - Paul Bowles (1950)
3.) Destination Unknown - Agatha Christie (1954)
4.) The Voices of Marrakech - Elias Canetti (1968)
6.) The House Without a Key - Earl Derr Biggers (1925)
7.) Of Walking on Ice: Munich-Paris - Werner Herzog (1978)
8.) The Woman in White - Wilkie Collins (1859)
9.) Wuthering Heights - Emily Brontë (1847)
10.) To the Lighthouse - Virginia Woolf (1927)
11.) The Railway Children - Edith Nesbit (1905)

-In regard to other challenges, I thought I'd be further along. For example, I've only read two titles for the wonderful Vintage Mysteries Challenge (see above list for The House Without a Key and Destination Unknown) where I signed up to read 10-12 books, so I'll need to step up my vintage mystery reading (it's not as if that's a chore!).  

-I'm not faring too much better with the equally fun Gothic Reading Challenge, for which I've only read two titles towards the level "the darkness within", which requires 5 books. 

-My progress for the Cozy Mysteries Reading Challenge is going much better: I signed up for "super sleuth" level and have completed 11 of 13 titles. I'll be listing those in a wrap-up post when I finish the challenge.

-For the Chunkster Reading Challenge (fiction or non-fiction greater than 450 pages), I've completed half of the challenge (soon to be 3/4, if I can get crackin' on a new review) with the titles Sophie's World and The Woman in White. Recently I finished reading Barbara Kingsolver's The Lacuna, which will soon be added to the list. I'm confident I'll finish this challenge with a bang, since if all goes well, I'll have finished War and Peace, as well as Don Quixote before 2012 rolls around. 

- I haven't said much about the Into the Old World Reading Challenge because that one encompasses a vast amount of books; any title published before 2009 qualifies. I post my reviews there monthly, but as there are no levels or titles to work towards, I'll wait until January to write a wrap-up post.

-The most recent challenge I've joined is the Japanese Literature Reading Challenge, but this challenge only involves reading one work of Japanese literature. With The Tale of Genji and Akagatawa's short stories on my TBR list, I'm not concerned about completing this one. 

READ-ALONGS:

-In July I completed reading Virgina Woolf's To the Lighthouse in four installments with Unputdownables. You can see a list of my four weekly reviews by clicking on them in this post.

-In January I signed on to read a chapter every day from Tolstoy's epic novel, War and Peace for one year at Jillian's blog, A Room of One's Own. While I discovered that I love War and Peace, the chapter-a-day model just isn't working for me. I love to sit down with a book and move through it intensely, not reading in such a choppy fashion. Even spreading To the Lighthouse over four weeks was a challenge for me. Soon I plan to sit down with Tolstoy and read War and Peace from cover to finish as an alternative to reading a chapter a day (in case you're wondering, the book has 365 chapters which is the root of the chapter-a-day idea). 

Do you have any reading goals in 2011? Are you satisfied with your progress? 

August 8, 2011

Edith Nesbit's The Railway Children


From time to time I come across a classic work of young adult fiction that somehow passed me by in my youth; The Railway Children is one such title. Initially I had it confused with that lovable series I have read called The Boxcar Children, but this novel is much older, having been published in 1905. The story details how an English family of five, including three children, move to a new home at Three Chimneys under strained circumstances. While the children are at first unaware of their family's precarious new position, they gradually come to learn that money is extremely scarce and that their father, a member of the foreign office, has been imprisoned for treason.
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