Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Revising Old and New Reading Projects.

One of the things that prevented me from returning to the blog for weeks at a time was that I felt very stilted in my reading project (my list of 250 classics). I was struggling to keep going since the original purpose was so far removed from me, and the project was too big to begin with. That's not to say I won't ever read those books in the future, but more that there were other reading projects calling for my time and attention. And I was sick of feeling guilty for picking a book to read off a list other than the 250 list.

My first venture out was my list for the Classics Club. I should have thrown that 250 list out the window then, but I held on to it. And the Classics Club has been great in regards to opening my eyes up to more and more classic work to read...at some point in my life. I don't feel as much urgency to complete that real long list of books...mainly because I consider it to be a lifelong goal.

However, I needed to officially break away from my 250 list of books, and I think I've finally done it. That list is now buried in draft on my blogger dashboard. And while I will probably read from the list and finish it, I'm not going to worry about it. I'm sure I will check it from time to time so I can see what's left, but I'm no longer focusing on it. And that's a HUGE relief.

Instead, I'm focusing on reading freely-classics, YA, some science-fiction and fantasy, non-fiction, etc. I want to be free to grab what I'm interested in at any time and not feel like I am cheating on my poor book list. That being said, there are some author studies I've been longing to do, as well as some other projects.

Over the course of the last week, I've been revising the pages on my blog. If you look at the lovely bar across the top, you'll see quite a few new projects. The first is my link to my Classics Club list, which needs a bit of maintenance and revision (folding my remaining 250 books into my larger list). The Classics Club will remain a focus for me. Because while I am reading a little more diversely, I still have mad love for the classics.

I also have a link to my progress for my Willa Cather Project, which I abandoned last winter when guilt from my other commitments stepped in. I've already made a lot of progress for that project, so I'm hoping to pick it up again in the very near future. I think it's perfectly doable to pick up one Cather title/month, since most of her work is on the slim side. This is a project I'm very excited to get back into, so look forward to lots of Cather posts in the future!

Now, on to the new projects!

Back in January 2012, I hosted a Shakespeare Reading Month, and it remains as one of my favorite reading events (A Victorian Celebration is a very close 2nd-look for a reboot coming in a few months!!). I have been thinking about launching into a Shakespeare focus ever since that event took place, and I've finally taken the plunge.

Similar to my Willa Cather Project, my Shakespeare Project is a way for me to dive into an author study by completing his/her complete works. In the case of Shakespeare, I want to finish reading all of his plays and poetry. On the page linked above, I've listed everything known to be written by the bard, as well as links to posts I've written about each piece. For now, I'm going to work towards reading and writing about the pieces that don't already have a dedicated post (even though I've read more of the plays than it seems). After I've completed that, I'm sure I will reread a few (especially from my early days of blogging). I'd also like to make it a point to read more information about the Bard himself, so links to biographies, etc will also be forthcoming. I've also added links to some of my Shakespeare focused posts on that page as well! Some of those posts remain my most popular blog posts!

The second new project I'm launching focuses on Charles Dickens' Major Works. This is something I've been toying with for quite some time (I was initially going to do this last year as opposed to Willa Cather).

For this project, I'm looking to read (and reread) the 16 major works of Charles Dickens. I've read about half of his work, but some of it was very early on in blogging and some begs for another reread (hello David Copperfield, how I LOVE you!). So, unlike Cather and Shakespeare, I will be setting out to reread initially. I'm not sure if I'm going to read in publication order, but that is something I'm toying with.

I'm also hoping to read a little more about Dickens. I already have the Tomalin biography on my shelf, as well as the lovely Dickens Bicentenary that I referenced while reading his work before. I imagine I'll add to those two as I move forward in this project, so if you have a title to suggest, please do!

Lastly, I'm hoping to add a lot more rereading to my life with my Rereading Project.This was very much inspired by o at Behold the Stars, so all credit goes to her genius!

I think that as bloggers, we always feel pressured to read things that are new to us, but like many of you (I'm sure), rereading was a huge part of my reading persona prior to blogging. I miss rereading, so this just serves as a way to bring that back into my reading appetite.

This project requires that I try and reread 15 books/year, which isn't an overwhelming amount. Considering that I read 65 books last year (and 80+) in the years before, that doesn't even come close to have my reading diet. I also think it'll be interesting to see how books stick out in my memory from my early days of blogging (or, alas, pre-blogging years!). And while I've made a tentative list of 15 books (which happen to all be books from that 250 list) to get me started, I'm not holding myself to any list for this! This is my chance to stare at my shelves and reread as I want-classic or not! I really think this is a great way to bring me back to a sense of normalcy in my reading...and help me remember that reading is for pleasure, not work.


There you have-some revisions to old projects and quite a few new ones! I still have some ideas for other things to tackle-further author studies, time period studies, etc, but for now, these are enough to keep me entertained and busy. I'm hoping that working with open-ended goals provides me the intellectual stimulation I crave and the ability to abandon at will. :)

How do you feel about reading projects? Do you have any of your own?

16 comments:

  1. I adore rereading and there are always between 10 and 20 rereads on my list by the end of the year. There are some times of year that just feel more like reread times. December is one of them. I think I only read one new book this past December, and reread 5 or 6 books. For a long time, blogging made me feel like I couldn't reread the same book in the same year (because then it wouldn't count as a book read toward that year's numbers), or that I had to reread books I'd read pre-blogging (so at least there would be a review). I'm happy to say that these things no longer bother me, likely because I'm not blogging as much these days. I can read a book six times in a row if I care to, or in January and then later in July and also in December. Or every October, like I've done The Night Circus the last three years. :)

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    1. Exactly! I always felt pressured to push aside rereads in favor of new books....but rereading is something I love! And I agree about the month of December-I feel like it is a perfect time of year to snuggle in with comfort books. :)

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  2. I need to do the same thing with my list for the Classics club. It's only holding me back. I have to read a classic when I'm in the mood for it; it's just not something to be forced with me. Unfortunately.

    I'm looking forward to hearing more about this Victorian Celebration! That is one time period I can get in the mood for!

    Like Amanda, I adore rereading. It's just so much like revisiting old friends and even (at times) hearing new stories, since there are things I missed, didn't remember, or see in a different way. So I love the sound of this Rereading Project!

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    1. I'm all about following my reading moods now. I'm tired of sticking to a list, so I like this kind of flexibility!

      I hosted a Victorian event a couple years ago, and by far, it was one of my favorites. I love that era of literature. It'll probably happen in June and July of this year!

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  3. Love. All of this. :-) (You might check out Claire Tomalin's biography Invisible Woman -- about Dickens & Nellie Ternan. It's quite good. If you're seeking reading suggestions.) :-)

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    1. Yes! Thank you for the suggestion! I'll add it to my list! :)

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  4. Yay for new projects! I read my first Cather last year in January and loved it but somehow I didn't read anymore of her for the rest of the year! I'm not sure how but I ended up reading the last book of her Great Plains trilogy, so maybe this year I'll try to go back and actually read the first two.

    I'm excited to read about your Shakespeare project! I've been toying with making Shakespeare a part of my focus of my reading this year as all I've ever read of him was years ago in high school, but I'd be lying if I didn't say that I'm not a little bit intimidated. I remember enjoying reading him in class but for some reason I can't shake the feeling that I won't be able to 'get him' on my own. But as this Classics Club Event this month is Shakespeare I think I might try to suss out some good biographies and guides on his work and make a little bit of a plan. I won't be able to read all his work this year but I would be glad to make a start!

    Rereading has been something that I've struggled with since I've started blogging; I've come across so many interesting books that I want to read which is frustrating as I know that I'll never read all of them. Rereading is a different experience for me than reading a book for the first time; it has a different feeling, I think. I'm not sure why but when I choose to reread books they tend to be those that I read and were important to me when I was younger which I find interesting.

    Sorry this is such a long comment; I didn't realize I had all these thoughts til I started writing this down! I'm looking forward to reading about your bookish projects this year!

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    1. For Shakespeare, I highly recommend getting one of the "No-Fear" editions if you're nervous about "getting it." They break it down really well. And remember, it's not important that you understand every single word. The general idea is much more important!

      And I hear you on the whole "so many books" to read. But, I love rereading and gain so much from it! I'm excited to return to it!

      And I love long comments! :)

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  5. I dropped all of my reading challenges towards the end of last year and haven't signed up for any this year for the same reason. I hate feeling guilty for not reading what I 'should' be reading! I think it's great that you've given yourself free reign :-) And I'm glad you like David Copperfield because that gives me some kind of incentive to read it!

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    1. Exactly! Top be honest, I fail horrible at reading challenges, but I like making the lists. :)

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  6. I'll be very interested to follow your Dickens project! I'm due a re-read of David Copperfield as well (partly in hour of my budgie Trotwood!). Love that book!

    I know what you mean about sometimes feeling a list is tying you down. My commitment to my Classics Club list is partly stubbornness. When I've finished, my second list will be much shorter!

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    1. David Copperfield is one of my all-time favorites. I LOVE IT.

      Yep-short lists are better. They're much more manageable.

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  7. Last year I attempted to participate in many reading projects and ended up just neglecting them. I, too, am a part of the Classics Club, and I want to continue reading from that list this year (I kind of neglected it last year). Also, I want to read books from my bookshelves, not just the books I hoard from the library haha.

    I really like the re-read project. Despite all the shiny new books, I still always make sure that I spend some time re-reading some of my old favorites from time to time.

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    1. There is something very comforting about diving into an old book. I miss that feeling!

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  8. I recently took a step back from my reading goals. My classics list has changed from being very expansive, to a moderate goal of reading 50 books from a living and growing list by the time I turn 29 (so just under 3 years). The list isn't set in stone--as I hear of/decide to read classics, I'll add it to the list. The point is to read 50 classics, not read a pre-determined set of classics. I want to focus more on reading the BIG classics that everyone knows and talks about. I figure, War and Peace (or insert any other big name, on every list classic) has been talked about so consistently for over a century, there must be a reason. I can always go back and pick up the more obscure things later. But I want to focus my time on reading the best.

    You raise a very good point--Re-reading used to be such a big part of my reading identity! I read Gone With the Wind 10 times between 7th and 12th grades. I've re-read To Kill a Mockingbird a number of times. I miss re-reading. It's so comforting and interesting to look back on how you've changed and grown between readings. I think I"ll make it a point to re-read GWTW this year. Thanks!

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