The Classics Club: Two Years Later

Two years ago today, I put together a list of seventy-five classics I wanted to read by July 15, 2017 and, thus, joined The Classics Club. Last year, I reflected back on my progress — how many books I had read so far (16 from the list + eight other classics), how I overcame my fear of Edith Wharton, and how I tackled one of the longest books on my list.

This year? I’ve read two books — Far From the Madding Crowd by Thomas Hardy and The Iliad by Homer — from my list and one other book I’d consider a classic. Which brings my total number of classics read since July 15, 2015 to twenty-seven classics with eighteen from my list of 75.

Do I wish I had read more from my list in the last year? Yes, of course, but I’m trying to avoid words like “only” or “failure” in this recap. I enjoyed both Hardy and Homer’s novels; I’m glad the Classics Club gave me the kick to pick them up. I’m also trying to avoid making too many goals or plans in the coming year. Maybe I’ll pick up some steam in the final year before my goal date, or maybe I’ll “cheat” and extend my date to 2018 (or 2019 or 2020). But, hopefully, there will be some great classics along the way!


Currently in March


Enjoying | A friend came to visit on Friday night into Saturday — we went out to my favorite restaurant in Chinatown, watched “Thumbalina” as she was horrified to learn I had never seen, tried out a new place for brunch, and took the subway to the southern portion of the city to check out a long, rambling path along the Neponset River. I’ve been suffering from off-and-on knee pain for most of the month so I worried the 6-mile walk would do me in. But I woke up this morning feeling great.

Reading | Of course, the lack of knee didn’t stop me from spending this morning on the couch reading bell hook’s All About Love. I’m not a religious person, but there was something so lovely and almost poignant about reading a series of essays on love on Easter Sunday. I finished the book this morning and moved onto The Geography of Nowhere by James Howard Kunstler.

Listening | I’m currently in between audiobooks, and I think that might have something to do with my recent discovery of two podcasts — “The Ezra Klein Show” and “On Being”. The former is a long-form interview on politics in America with different actors — Senator Cory Booker, a lobbyist, a pundit at the Heritage Foundation — by the head blogger/columnist/editor at Vox. The later is another long-form interview hosted by Krista Tippett with doctors, philosophers, activists, poets, scientists, etc. I’ve been going back through the archives and was thrilled to discover this interview with Barbara Kingsolver from 2010.

Finishing | This is the last week of the TBR Triple Dog Dare. I read twelve books off my TBR pile, including audiobooks as all were on my iPod before the beginning of 2016. But giving myself permission to participate in #ComicsFebruary was a slippery slope, and I ended up reading eight comics from the library (plus book club selections). I am still going to prioritize reading off my own shelves in the coming months. Try to repeat that promising start from January.

Anticipating | April will be a busy but exciting month for me — vacation, my twenty-fifth birthday, apartment hunting, new projects at work and in my personal life to focus on. I think my motto for April will be a statement I highlighted this morning in bell hooks’s book, “I am breaking with old patterns and moving forward with my life”.

Sunday Salon: Currently in February

Last weekend, I spent a couple of days up in Vermont visiting a friend of mine from college. The polar vortex and temperatures dropping to -35F with the wind chill forced us to largely cancel all our outdoor plans and stick to indoor activities — wine and chocolate samplings, visiting the Ben & Jerry’s factory, shopping at the local bookstores, and cuddling with my friend’s dog. (I so want a dog of my own now.)

I also accompanied my friend and her fiancee on a venue visit for their upcoming wedding while I was in town and, wow, I am so not interested in having a big affair should I ever get married. The decisions about menus and chairs and a hundred other seemingly small things, the question of what to do with out of town guests, and the struggle to stay in budget seems like a really stressful way to start a marriage. I mean, I was stressed out for them and I’m just expected to show up for the event! Over the years, I’ve had so many people tell me I’ll change my mind about having a wedding because my family or my fiance’s family or my fiance will want one. But that three hour site visit has sold me on going down to the courthouse with my family and having a nice lunch afterwards.

This weekend, temperatures in Boston have climbed to nearly 60F, and my book club was wishing we could relocate outdoors for our annual winter wine tasting. Today, I walked over to the arboretum and took a moment to sit and listen to the birds in the trees (and, unfortunately, the whirl of the generator for the nearby hospital). The arboretum is located in a neighborhood I’m considering moving to come summer, and the ease of access to so many green spaces in that area for car-free people such as myself is seriously pulling me in that direction.

Reading | Unfortunately, I haven’t found a non-audiobook to suck me in lately. I have nine books on my currently reading shelf over at GoodReads because I keep picking up books, reading a handful of pages, and setting them aside. I would like to finish The Paying Guests by Sarah Waters, which my book club selected and I’ve already paid my dues to attend the meeting for, and The Color Purple by Alice Walker, which Emma Watson’s feminist book club selected for March. We’ll see. I did finish reading volume seven of A Bride’s Story by Kaoru Mori for #ComicsFebruary this morning, and I’ve already submitted a purchasing request to my public library for the eighth volume, although the English release date is still unknown.

Listening | I started Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell on my walk this morning. Rowell’s novels have received so much buzz that I was hesitant to pick up her books afraid it wouldn’t live up to all the hype. Twenty percent in, though, and I can see why she has so many fans. The 5.8 miles I walked went by so quickly, and I normally notice every single step.

Watching | After seeing Nick Offerman in ‘A Confederacy of Dunces’ and listening to Amy Poehler’s book, I finally started watching “Parks and Recreation” on Netflix. I’m only halfway through season two, but I can see why so many people love Poehler’s and Offerman’s characters and the show, in general.

Concentrating | One of the things I’m really concentrating on this year is my own health. I was sick for over three months at the end of last year, and then I caught another cold back in January. I’ve pretty much maxed out all my sick days, and my boss hung up a sign by my desk documenting how many days it has been since a member of my group was out sick. We’re up to a whopping three days. So, yeah, really trying to concentrate on living a healthier lifestyle.

For me, this means following the advice from the nutritionist my doctor suggested I meet with and trying to incorporate exercise into my life. My parents gave me a trainer for my bike so I can ride indoors during the winter, and I’ve been trying out a couple of yoga classes through MoveWith. I’ve also taken two spin classes this month, which kick my butt yet leave me feeling absolutely energized for the rest of the day.

Trying | I also decided to give the bullet journal a try. (You can see my daily goal tracker photographed above.) I loved the Arc Notebook system in grad school, but it’s not really practical for me now that I no longer have daily assignments or exams to plan for. I’ve been using the system for about three weeks now and if it continues going as well as it has been, I plan to share more about it here. (Basically to show people that you can have messy handwriting and make mistakes and still use the system because, wow, are the bullet journals on Instagram and Pinterest perfect and beautiful.)

Anticipating | I have a couple of fun events with friends coming up over the next few weeks, and I know I have to start getting serious about apartment hunting. But much of my attention has been dragged towards April — season two of “Outlander” premieres April 9th, season four of “Orphan Black” is released on April 14th, and I have a lengthy vacation as a birthday present to myself. Should be a lot of fun!

The Sunday Salon:

The Sunday The Sunday Salon encourages bloggers to get together –at their separate desks, in their own particular time zones– every Sunday and read. And blog about their reading. And comment on one another’s blogs. Salon participants are encouraged to blog about their time spent reading, pages read, information about current reading, discuss a reaction to a book, state what they plan to read the following week, or make suggestions for a group read.

Recent Acquisitions

Last month, I read five printed books off my shelves and one eBook as well as listened to one audiobook I’ve had loaded onto my iPod for almost a year. Great progress towards my goal of reading the books I own.

So how did I celebrate? By going out and buying eleven more print books at a buy one, get one used book sale over the weekend! And I also bought into Persephone’s buy two, get one free marketing scheme for Valentine’s Day. Whoops.


The used book sale I visited divides their fiction selections into regular and “premium” books. The premium section includes prize winners, popular authors, and bestsellers so I was surprised to find Marlon James’ The Brief History of Seven Killings (winner of the 2015 Man Booker Prize) and Eleanor Catton’s The Luminaries (winner of the 2013 Man Booker Prize) in the regular section. For fifty cents a piece, of course those two were coming home with me. The only premium book I purchased was Robert Galbraith’s The Silkworm.

As for the rest, I tried to be mindful about purchasing more diverse books, either in the novel’s setting or in the ethnicity and/or nationality of the author. With that in mind, I brought home:

  • Running in the Family (Michael Ondaatje)
  • Moloka’i (Alan Brennert)
  • How to be Good (Nick Hornby)
  • Please Don’t Call Me Human (Wang Shud)
  • The Women (T.C. Boyle)
  • Palace of Desire (Naguib Mahfoua)
  • Soul Mountain (Gao Xingjian)
  • Abundance (Sena Jeter Naslund)

The Persephone books I ordered haven’t arrived from England yet, but I’m looking forward to seeing They Were Sisters by Dorothy Whipple, To Bed with Grand Music by Marghanita Laski, and Fidelity by Susan Glaspell in my mailbox soon.

Bookstack for #ComicsFebruary

IMG_2841.JPGI know, I know. I’m supposed to only be reading the books I own until the end of March. But everyone started posting pictures of the books they plan to read for #ComicsFebruary and I got bookstack envy. So off to the library I went.

I tend to be drawn to nonfiction when it comes to comics so the majority of the titles I picked up are from that section of the library. The one exception is Diana Gabaldon’s The Exile, which recounts the events of Outlander from Jamie’s point of view. Yes, please!