Reading · WeeksEnd Notes

Week’s End Notes (29) – At the Half

FuchsiaHappy July!

Where has the year flown?! I’m quite sure that March took a leave of absence and June was on a two-week vacation (likely to someplace slightly cool and with a nice bit of rain; June, why didn’t you invite me along?) and so that I really can’t be held to account for the speed with which this year is zooming by.

But speeding it is. And while sometimes that seems a good thing—every day past is one day nearer an autumn vacation; every day past is nearer the end of what does seem to have become a downer of a year. Every time I turn on the national news or nose around online, it seems there is some new terror or tale of woe; it is no wonder that the escapism of A Midsummer Night’s Dream was so appealing to me. (Though it must be said, here in NE Ohio we had a nice one-week respite after the NBA finals—every day for a week it seemed that to turn on the local news or open the local paper was to find yet another bit of celebration and excitement. In some ways, a sport like that is so unimportant in the grand scheme, yet the magic of the joy that a win—finally, a championship win—brought the region is nothing to disregard in such angry and hurtful and frightening times.*) And it feels that it will only be more so, as the November election, sure to be fraught with negativity and threatenings, fast approaches. I find I can only stomach so much of negative news and politicking, and find the lure of escape (or avoidance) compelling. The internet is dangerous, an opinion at every corner. Television is a hazard; already the political ads are fast and furious. (Sorry, networks, I won’t be watching TV this fall.) So to books I must turn. Certainly not a bad thing in general, and certainly not if I actually expect to finish off my goals for the year, this year!

Actually, considering the real slump I feel like I had around about March, I don’t think I’m doing too badly. I’ve managed to read eleven “books”† so far (plus finish a few I started in 2015), which, while not exactly halfway to my goal of twenty-five, is closer than I might have expected in April. And I’m currently in the middle of three. I’m actually really optimistic about this goal as much of my planned summer reading is of the more relaxing variety. I never said those twenty-five books had to be difficult… (Although, of course, the two books I just impulsively requested and received from the library are both non-fiction. But the read-fast type.)

Looking over my other goals from the start of the year:

Reading Ohio – two so far (Folks from Dixie and Selected Poems, both by Paul Laurence Dunbar). I’d hoped to do better by now, but Dunbar proved a larger challenge than expected.
The Classics Club – four titles read! (The Two Gentlemen of Verona, Pedro Páramo, Titus Andronicus, and A Midsummer Night’s Dream) This is actually a bit better than expected, although it helps that three are plays. Pedro Páramo hadn’t been on my radar at all at the start of the year, but ended up as a Spin title.
Women’s Classics Literature Event – alas, so far all I can count are the lovely Beatrix Potter Tales. The only other women I’ve read this year have been too recent to count as classic. Must rectify.
Bardathon 400 – Well, as you may have noticed under The Classics Club heading, I’ve read three (and watched filmed adaptions of two of those) so far. The Taming of the Shrew and Kiss Me Kate are next, at which point I will count this one “complete.”
Reading England – none yet, but two currently planned for summer reading.
Ancient Greek – oops. Not even anything on the horizon. Maybe I should start thinking about a play or two?
Books in Translation – two so far (Emil and the Detectives and Pedro Páramo), plus The President (Miguel Angel Asturias) in progress. Not too bad for me actually.
Contemporary Translations – but none of the translated work has been what I call “contemporary.” This may actually prove to be the most difficult challenge for me this year, just on a time available basis.
Children’s Classics – well, with the Event in April, I was bound to do well here. Either four or twenty-six, depending on how you count! (Emil and the Detectives, The Jungle Book, the Beatrix Potter Twenty-three Tales, and The Grey King by Susan Cooper) I’ll have a few more by the end of the year, but I never really had a set number in mind.
And finally, Back to the Classics – I’m actually surprised by how well I’m doing, four of twelve so far, without a specific effort. But I was able to count Pedro Páramo for a translated title, the two Dunbar titles for non-white author and short story collection, and The Two Gentlemen of Verona for a place in the title. I would really like to finish this one, but that will definitely take some planned effort on my part.

At only the opening of July, it’s still easy to be optimistic about the reading for the rest of the year, and perhaps even let myself daydream that I might exceed my goal of twenty-five. (Hey, I’ve still got a week’s vacation planned. It could happen!) Of course, I still need to post about a number of the titles I’ve listed above…a challenge for another day.

How’s you’re 2016 reading going? Any exciting plans for the second half? I’ve already been seeing posts for July’s Spanish Lit Month–time to catch up!

*Something also noted by NPR’s Renita Jablonski, who finally found something to cheer for after a dreadful couple weeks.
†It seems more accurate to group the short Beatrix Potter
Twenty-three Tales as one book than to count them separately.

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