April Reading

April was a better reading month for me than March from the perspective of finishing books. I’ve read through chapter five in The Novel and I had fun posting tasks for the challenge. Their Eyes Were Watching God was the only five star read of the month, but I am psyched to have finally read some of these books I’ve been hearing about for so long.

Books I completed for The Novel:
Le Morte d’Arthur
*****Their Eyes Were Watching God
Robinson Crusoe
In The Heart of the Country
The Vicar of Wakefield

Books I read from my 2015 list:
The Sixth Extinction

Unplanned Books:
Richard II

Started but haven’t finished:
A Distant Mirror (super dense)
The Black Stallion (with Uzi)
Not Quite Dead Enough

Next up:

Richard III, Invisible Cities, finish unfinished books, read chapter 6 in The Novel


March 2015 Reading

At the beginning of the year, on Goodreads, I challenged myself to read 52 books in 2015, which is lower than I’ve shot for in the last few years. Instead of going for total number of books, I am focussing on page count. My highest page count since being on Goodreads was 30,766 in 2013, about 590 pages a week. Last year I had a long lasting slump in the first quarter that took far too long to get over and my page count for the year was 25,290—486 pages a week. I would like to surpass that in 2015 and would be happy if I could match or surpass my 2013 total page count. Here it is in no particular order.

* Indicates books I’m reading for The Novel: A Biography, by Michael E.C. Schmidt, a year-long reading project of which I am a co-moderator in The Rountable, a Goodreads group I also help moderate, and I have a feeling it’s going to take me longer than a year to do this, also that I’ll be adding more books to this list as get further in the book. I really want a solid foundation for the beginning of the book though, which covers mostly big classics I’ve never gotten around to reading.


*Le Morte d’Arthur
*Don Quixote
*The Pilgrim’s Progress
*The Travels of Sir John Mandeville
*North and South
Life and Fate of Tristram Shandy
A Problem from Hell
*Jude the Obscure
The Daughter of Time
Richard III
The Marble Faun
The Sorrows of Young Werther
The Odyssey
The Flamethrowers
Motherless Brooklyn
All My Puny Sorrows
*The History of Tom Jones, a Foundling
Bark: Stories

In The Heart of the Country
My Brilliant Friend
A Very English Hero
Too Loud A Solitude
Notes From Underground
The Custom of the Country
Half of a Yellow Sun
Trollope’s Barcetshire series
The Bell Jar
On Beauty
Out Stealing Horses

Beatrix Potter: A Life in Nature
Catharine the Great
A Distant Mirror
The Sixth Extinction
The World Without Us
Team of Rivals
The Fabric of the Cosmos
Factory Girls
The Mushroom Hunters
Winter King
They Poured Fire on Us From the Sky
The Emperor of All Maladies
The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks
On the Origin of Species
The Tell-Tail Brain
The Black Count
John Adams
The Beak of the Finch

Garden Goofs

The first weeks of March have been so lovely. Lovely enough to plant seeds and spend time in the garden. It’s probably only interesting to me exactly what I planted (spinach, peas, lettuce, cabbage), but aside from just glorying in being out in the garden again I got to spend time with a couple of funny (in both senses, ha-ha and not-quite exactly) characters whose pictures I hope will be more entertaining than a close-up of freshly planted dirt. So here you are!


Bella decided to walk behind the planters for unknown reasons. Then she stood there and stared at me.
Bella decided to walk behind the planters for unknown reasons. Then she stood there and stared at me.


This guy didn't really want to plant seeds with me. He was more in the mood to lounge and be hilarious.
This guy didn’t really want to plant seeds with me. He was more in the mood to lounge and be hilarious.

To Powell’s!

It’s off to Powell’s we go to sell the booky books!

I sold almost all of my books.
I sold almost all of my books.

My friend Maud really really really helped me out. It took us two days to go through them all. The car was so full that I couldn’t even pick Chris up from work to help me truck all the books into the store. It took over two hours and three people to go through them all. Thank goodness Powell’s will box up the ones they don’t buy and send them to Better World Books. I didn’t want to them back in the car!

New To Me: Olav H. Hauge

Drops in the East Wind, 1966

You’ve left the big storms
behind you now.
You didn’t ask then
why you were born,
where you came from, where you were going to,
you were just there in the storm,
in the fire.
But it’s possible to live
in the everyday as well,
in the grey quiet day,
set potatoes, rake leaves,
carry brushwood.
There’s so much to think about here in the world,
one life is not enough for it all.
After work you can fry bacon
and read Chinese poems.
Old Laertes cut briars,
dug round his fig trees,
and let the heroes fight on at Troy.

—Olav H. Hauge

A poet I really like who is new to me is Olav H. Hauge. I’m reading The Dream We Carry
and it’s fantastic.


Book Review: Fortunata y Jacinta



Fortunata and Jacinta: Two Stories of Married WomenFortunata and Jacinta: Two Stories of Married Women by Benito Pérez Galdós

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I feel as though I’ve been living in Madrid for the past week while reading this. What an author Galdós is! My thoughts are completely disjointed right now as I’ve just finished reading the last page a moment ago. So. This is a draft of a review right now.

“The response from the famous judge of literary works was that it had the makings of a play or a novel, although in his opinion the artistic texture wouldn’t be especially attractive unless it were warped in places so that the vulgarity of life might be converted into esthetic material. He didn’t tolerate ‘raw life’ in art; it had to be scrubbed, seasoned with aromatic spices, and then thoroughly cooked. Segismundo did not share his opinion and they discussed the matter, each party advancing its select reasons, but each sticking to its own convictions, so that in the end they agreed that well-ripened raw fruit was very good, but so were compotes, if the cook knew what he was doing.” p. 812

I would say Galdós likes raw fruit best and this novel doesn’t attempt to disguise the madness, joy, love, inanity, humor, impulsivity, selfishness, self-deceit, bravery, devotion, inconstancy and violence—along with all the other traits of humanity—and instead revels in them.

Notes to come back to: “Madwoman in the house.” Angel/saint/devil. Virgin/whore. Philosophy & religion. Café life. Politics. Spectrum of religious and spiritual beliefs. Cultural stereotypes. Compare Catholic perspective to Protestant and Spanish to English and French lit of the time.

Medical details. Mental illness. Migraines. Drugs.

Boobies and cotton breasts.

Galdós’ interest in street life, textiles & apparel, interiors, angles of view, painting and sculpture.

Details of daily life. Cleaning. Food preparation. Other habits.


Galdós tying the whole, massive thing together = freaking brilliant, but of course (view spoiler)[ a chick had to die. (hide spoiler)]

Translation issues: spelling, pronunciation, dialect.

Also, has anyone ever compared this book to Anna Karenina?

“I adore her , because we would have no way to feel God’s love unless God revealed it to us through our idea that His attributes are transmitted by a creature of our human race.” p817

If he were a painter, who would he be? Vuillard?

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