Monday, May 28, 2012

Summer Reading!

When I found out about Jillian's Classics Club, I was tempted to commit myself to reading 50 classics in the next five years--and then realized that I'll probably end up reading about that many classics in that time anyway, being an English major (and considering all the internships and minors and whatever else I'm still planning to do, I'll probably be in school for that long, too). And I certainly won't have time to read 50 classics in addition to all those classics that I will certainly end up reading for school.

Anyway, before I started furiously listing all the classics I've always wanted to read and posting enthusiastic comments all over Jillian's blog (and neglecting my far-more-relevant-to-life studies), I realized how impractical it would be to take part in such a hefty book challenge, particularly since I've never participated in a book challenge before.

But even after I decided that being a good student was more important than indulging my classics/blogging fantasies, I remained intrigued. For a while I've been trying to do more reading outside of school. Let's face it, I waste plenty of time that I could be spending on more valuable pursuits. In my efforts to start using my time more wisely, I even checked a couple of travel books out of the library (in which I still have yet to get past the first chapters). And yet, here I am, still watching old episodes of Say Yes to the Dress on YouTube. (Yes, I spend my time watching giddy brides try on ridiculously expensive dresses that they will only ever wear once. It's my gateway drug...) I've been thinking how motivating it would be to be part of a reading challenge. It might get me reading some books I might not have read otherwise, and hey, it would be an adventure. At the very least, it would get me reading more, even if I didn't finish.

So I went in search of a more do-able reading challenge. In my quest, I found A Novel Challenge, which led me to this reading challenge by Reading Writers. It's simple enough--only 8 books required for the next 3 months, and the categories are pretty open-ended. And better yet, it starts today (which gave me a few days to think about it after I found the challenge). So I decided to take the plunge!

Here's my list, which is not only subject to change, but definitely will be changed. I've only decided on books for a few of the categories, so sorry about that (like I said, I only discovered the challenge a few days ago). As I come up with choices, I'll add them to this post.

1. A book in an unfamiliar genre [Read outside your comfort zone!]
I still haven't made a choice on this one. My least favorite genres are sci-fi and YA but those are pretty familiar to me (hence, my hesitancy to read them). I'm thinking about calling up my sister, who reads radically different books than I do, and asking her for suggestions. I'm considering trying a science book or (if I'm feeling really crazy) a graphic novel.
**Update** I talked to my sister and I think I'm going to read How to Build a Dinosaur by Jack Horner. Definitely not a book I would have immediately snatched off the shelf, but it seems interesting. Wish me luck!

2. A book that is part of a series.
I have a lot of thoughts on this one, considering that there are a lot of series that I've been meaning to read for a while. I think I might just save this category for later and then decide depending on how much time I have left. I would like to read The Fellowship of the Ring, but we'll see if I'm motivated enough to read it (exactly how boring is the first part that everyone always deplores?). I'm also thinking about reading the next Narnia book, since I only ever read three (and it would be a fast read). Another choice could be a book from The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency, since I listened to an audiobook from that series and really enjoyed it.

3. A book that your friend or wider society has been raving about!
I'm pretty sure about my choice for this one: The Book Thief, by Markus Zusak. (Yes, I know I said I don't like YA books, but there sure are a lot of YA books that are being raved about these days.) I've been wanting to read it for a while, per the suggestions of several friends. The question is whether I will ever get to the top of the wait list at the library...

4. A book that ‘could’ [This category is open to your interpretation]. 
I really don't know where to go with this I'm just going to pick a book that I already want to read and put it in this category. ;) I can't wait to read Committed by Elizabeth Gilbert. After I read Eat Pray Love, Gilbert is one of my writing heroes. Eat Pray Love was the book that made me want to be a travel writer. Committed is about Gilbert's decision to marry, after she had sworn to herself that she would never get married again, and her journey in discovering through different cultures what marriage is really all about. It "could" be another super inspiring read for me--or it "could" go against everything I believe about marriage. So I suppose it fits the category well enough.

5. A book from the Modern Library's 100 Best Novels List.
Here come the classics. I think I'm going to go with The Sun Also Rises by Hemingway. There are plenty of books on the list that I've been meaning to read, but this one is short and easy, so it makes sense considering my lack of time to read. And I've always been ashamed that I've never actually finished a Hemingway novel...

6. A book that reminds you of your childhood.
So many options for this one, considering all the many books from my childhood. At first I could only think of books that I actually read as a child, but I want to read books I've never read before, so I started thinking outside of the box. For this category, I think I'm going to go with one of the many books that everyone in my family read except for me (maybe I was trying to be rebellious...?). I think I've narrowed it down to either Captain Blood by Rafael Sabatini, one of the Horatio Hornblower books by C.S. Forester, or possibly Eragon by Paolini (look at me with all these YA books...).

7. A banned or contested book, OR a book that lied to us. 
I'm going to be honest, I'm pretty lost on this one. I'm thinking about Tom Sawyer or The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, but I'm leaving it open (since I'm not super thrilled to read either of those).

8.  A book you judged by the cover. [For whatever reason, the cover attracted you.]
The jury is out on this one. I'll be on the hunt for pretty covers.

9.  Bonus: A blog turned book [OR a book turned blockbuster movie]
If I have time for this one (which isn't particularly likely, but hey, I can dream), I would like to read Words in a French Life by Kristin Espinasse, a blog turned book. I just have to figure out how to get my hands on a copy.

10. Bonus: Free choice!
I'll leave choosing this one as a "prize" for finishing early, if I do! 

I'm excited to get started! I'll probably start with The Sun Also Rises since I'm pretty sure about it and it'll be easy to get a copy. I'll start putting myself on library wait lists. :) I'm excited to get started! 


  1. Ooh, I want to do the challenge with you! I am in a reading slump. This will be perfect!

  2. That would be so fun! I think Mom might do it too!

  3. You only read three of the Narnia books?!? How could you stop reading after three? It's such a great series!

    The Fellowship of the Ring drags in a lot of places. I got REALLY sick of Tom Bombadil. I wonder if it would break your streak of always liking the book better than the movie?

    1. I honestly don't know how I quit after 3. I think we just didn't have the next one, and I waited too long to get it at the library...I don't know. Now I'm more motivated to choose that for my "series" book though. :)

    2. I think you should continue the Narnia series as well. I love them!

  4. I think I may check out that novel challenge. I have been on a program to read classics for the past several years (I am much older than you). I majored in English too and it's amazing how many books I never got around to reading. By the way, I just recently completed The Sun Also Rises and even wrote a post about it on my blog. I'd be interested to find out what you think when you read it.

  5. I've chosen some books and finished the first one, Native Son by Richard Wright. It reminded me of my childhood because I saw so many of my friends carrying it around at school (I guess they were assigned to read it), but I never was so I didn't get around to it. I think books on race relations were really popular in the '70's when I was in school. I expected it to be rather boring, but it was a real page-turner for me. I'll post more on my blog (when I get it set up).