Operation Read Persephone

 

While pondering my 2017 reading goals the other evening I happened to look up at my bookcase to see the lovely row of dove grey Persephones and the colorful spines of the Persephone Classics that I have shelved together. I’ve been collecting Persephone titles for about 7 or 8 years now and, as happens to the best of us, the collecting has far exceeded the reading of these wonderful books. I recall Nicola Beauman saying in an interview I read (I can’t find the quote) that she hoped that people weren’t just collecting the books but reading them too. In this Guardian interview she says, “That’s all I care about, really, you see: the text, the text, the text.”, when asked about the design she chose for the novels she republishes. And I realized that maybe I have been collecting them just to have them – just out of a sense of pride in owning them, because I haven’t read nearly enough of them to justify their expense!
So – I came to the obvious conclusion that reading the Persephones I currently own should be my goal for 2017. I went to the Persephone website and found the master list of all the titles they’ve published, made a list of all the ones I own and haven’t read and stuck it up at the top of the page (under Operation Read Persephone) to serve as a constant reminder of this goal. Shockingly, I own 26 of the grey darlings that I have not read! The shame! But I will try to remedy that this year.
I decided that I will start with A Very Great Profession by Ms. Beauman herself as it describes her interest in and love for the books she’s chosen to republish. I’m looking forward to not just looking at and enjoying the beauty of these books but to actually honoring their authors by reading what is between the iconic covers.
Do you have a favorite Persephone? What are your reading goals for 2017?
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Recent Book Purchases

IMG_4258Hello! How’s your July been? I’ve read a lot this month, but it’s been all galleys so nothing that I can write about here (yet). I finished two books last weekend and will finish two by this weekend’s end as well. I’m well on my way to having read 10 galleys that I can talk about at my “Fabulous Fall Reads” presentation in September. If all goes to plan I won’t be scrambling to read anything in the week leading up to the event and can focus all my efforts on preparing my booktalks and the Powerpoint. Whew!

I’m going to Colorado again mid-August and want to take books with me that I have no obligation to read. Books that I can read just because I want to. So, I’ve been buying books online and at Half-Price books, hoarding them for the trip. I ordered 3 Poirot novels after loving The Murder of Roger Ackroyd a few months ago. Then I found a copy of Night and Day by Virginia Woolf at Half-Price Books (HPB) — not the most attractive copy but I couldn’t pass it up. On the same visit to HPB I decided to buy Hotel du Lac by Anita Brookner. I read it many years ago when I think I was probably too young to “get” it so I’m curious to see what I’ll think of it now.

A few weeks later I found To Love and Be Wise by Josephine Tey. I know nothing about it, but I do like Tey’s mysteries so I tossed it in my basket. Also in my basket went My American by Stella Gibbons. My local HPB has carried lots of Gibbons’s novels through the years and I always buy them yet haven’t read any of them yet. I want to remedy that this year.  On top of the Tey and the Gibson went The Painted Bridge by Wendy Wallace which I remembered Jane liking years ago when she was at her previous blog.

Lastly, the mailman recently delivered Queen Victoria in her Letters and Journals where it sat in my baking metal mailbox until I rescued it into the air conditioned comfort of my home.

I probably won’t take all of these to Colorado but a few of them will make the trip. I also want to take a few Viragos and Persephones to read since August is All August/All Viirago (with Persephones included). I’ve already started The Fortnight in September for this event and LOVE it. I also want to read a Holtby, Comyns and Laski during the month. I’m giddy just thinking about it!

But I forgot — I do have one book I’m obligated to read in August and that is Silas Marner for book club. I should probably start on that one soon.

What are your August reading plans? Have you bought any books lately that you are super excited about?

Paris in July 2016

Paris in July-16 official

It’s almost time for Paris in July! Beginning Friday it’s all things French all the time (because despite the name you can read books set outside of Paris) for those of us who’ve signed up at Thyme for Tea. This event is now in its seventh year which is an amazing run for a blogging event. I haven’t participated in a few years, but I have enjoyed the France-themed books I’ve read in the past so I decided to give it a go again this July. My hope is to read at least 4 books set in France – two non-fiction and two fiction.

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One of the novels I’m going to read is The Chateau by William Maxwell. The other novel is still up in the air, but I think it will be The Blessing by Nancy Mitford. As for the two non-fiction titles, I’m awaiting the arrival of two galleys I’ve requested from publishers that are both France-related –  I can kill two birds with one stone by reading for this event and reading ahead for work. I know I should probably read a book by an actual French author so I may ditch The Blessing and choose a translated novel instead – or I can try to add a translated novel to the stack. We’ll see!

Are you participating in Paris in July? Can you recommend any French novels for me to try?

My Century of Books Project Progress

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When Lisa from TBR313 recently wrote about the progress she’s made on her reading projects I was prompted to examine my progress on my own project. The only ongoing project that I’ve committed to is the Century of Books challenge and, frankly, my progress has been pretty slow. This is the second year I’ve recorded all of the books I’ve read from 1900 to 1999 and I was really sad to see that I’ve only read 21 books published in the twentieth century in almost 2 full years. I could have sworn I’ve read more twentieth century books than that! Granted, I’ve not consciously chosen books for this project – I’ve just read what I wanted and then counted them if they fit into the parameters. Most of the books I’ve read are concentrated in the 30’s, 40’s and 50’s, which is no surprise as these are my favorite years to read in. I haven’t read anything from 1900-1922 or from 1977-1998. Obviously I need to try to deliberately choose books from those years to read if I’m ever going to complete the challenge.

Next year, I want to pay more attention to this challenge and to get to the half-way mark. I’ve been a bit disappointed with my reading this year as I haven’t read as many classics as I’ve wanted to or as I’ve needed to to make me a happy reader. I’m still trying to find the balance between reading what I want to read and what I feel obligated to read as a librarian. This year I feel I went too far on the contemporary/popular side so next year I need to come up with a different ratio. Perhaps one for one – one classic for every contemporary book I read. It’s a constant puzzle that I’m still trying to solve.

How have you done on your challenges or projects this year?

Reading Resolutions

 

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It might seem a bit late to be formulating reading resolutions for 2015, but it is only a month into the new year and it took me the whole of January to decide what I want my reading life to look like for the next 11 months. At first I hatched grand, ambitious plans to read every book from this list or that list, to read only galleys, to read only books from a certain bookcase in my house, to read only new books, and on and on. About a week ago I faced reality and realized that I can’t read according to a set plan. It crushes my soul. My best reading comes when I stop and listen to my heart and choose books that appeal to me at that very moment in time, that suit my mood and what is going on in my life or what I’m passionately interested in or curious about. So, I’m reading according to my heart’s desires this year. Every book you’ll see on Gudrun’s Tights in 2015, with the exception of book club titles, will be something I chose to read based on my own wishes.

There are two small goals I’d like to accomplish this year:

  • Read at least 10 books from my Persephone collection
  • Read 1 chunky book – something like Anna Karenina, Moby Dick or Middlemarch

And that’s all. I have no other goals or challenges that I want to work on for 2015. I will join in on select reading events when they feel right. At the end of the year I want to look back on my reading with fondness, pleasure and contentment and I want to spend less time agonizing over what I should be reading and more time focusing on the books I genuinely want to read.

Did you set any reading goals for 2015?

Sunday Bulletin – November 2

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I made a goal this week to stop watching so much TV. It has become a jailer and I want to find time to read more, bake and organize my house. While avoiding TV on Thursday night I organized and culled my bookshelves. I found at least 50 books to donate to the library and feel so good about unloading books that I know I won’t ever read. I also discovered several duplicate titles that really shamed me. I admit that I spend far too much money on books, but when I realized that I own three copies of Mansfield Park, a book I have never even finished reading, I was greatly embarrassed. And that wasn’t the only instance. I found two copies of David Copperfield, Middlemarch and Some Tame Gazelle. How? I don’t even ever remember buying either copy of David Copperfield. This alarming revelation convinced me to cut down on my book purchases and actually read more of the books on my shelves. I have some lovely books and they are being neglected. Also, I want to take another trip to England next year and saving money is a priority for me – so, no more new books for the rest of the year except for a few Christmas presents to myself.

In reading news, it dismayed me to notice that I only finished one book in October, the Mollie Panter-Downes stories. This is really not acceptable. I start lots of novels, but am not finishing them for who knows what reason. Perhaps (and it is my hope) watching less TV will remedy this horrible situation. I am reading Old Filth and Elizabeth and her German Garden and am close to the end in both so next week I should have a report on either one or both of them.

I hope your Sunday is wonderful. I am working so mine won’t be leisurely, but I do enjoy the productive time in the stacks before the patrons arrive (we don’t open until 1).

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Books on My Summer TBR List

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This week’s prompt really forced me to stop and think about what books I’d like to read over the next few months. I always have a mental list on the go, but it shifts all the time and I tend to forget what I resolved to read in my mind after a few days. Writing it down is going to help me stay the course. This list doesn’t include the books I’ll be reading for Paris in July (I haven’t decided on them yet),  for my book group or for Mary Stewart Reading Week. I have to keep in mind that summer does go through September because, to me, summer ends in July. The school district where I work is on a modified year-round schedule and the kids start back to school on July 21 this year. For some reason, that puts an end to summer for me too, but it is really quite far from the end! Here are the books I hope to read by September 23, the first day of autumn:

1. The Paying Guests by Sarah Waters – This is my most anticipated book of the year and I have a galley that I am quietly hoarding. I will probably read it during a long weekend in July.

2. The Secret Place by Tana French – Can you believe I have never read Tana French? I’ve heard great things about her latest book so I will make it my first.

3. The Arsonist by Sue Miller – I’ve always liked Sue Miller. The Senator’s Wife is one of the most astonishing books I’ve ever read. The Arsonist sounds like it will be a good one, too.

4. The Frozen Dead by Bernard Minier – At atmospheric thriller that was a bestseller in France – I can’t resist.

5. Wild Strawberries by Angela Thirkell – I’m saving this one as a treat.

6. The Diary of a Provincial Lady by E.M. Delafield – I’ve owned this book for a few years now and am finally planning to read it sometime soon.

7. Crampton Hodnet by Barbara Pym – I haven’t read a Pym in over a year now – I look forward to entering her world again.

8. Heat Lightning by Helen Hull – I had a goal to read all of my Persephone’s this year and I haven’t read any! I think Heat Lightning is a good place to start and it also meets my goal of reading more American women authors.

9. Barchester Towers by Anthony Trollope – I also had a goal to read two Trollope novels and I haven’t done that either (yet). It’s time to get a move on.

10. Blaming by Elizabeth Taylor – I just finished Mrs. Palfrey at the Claremont and it was brilliant, to say the least. I must read more of Taylor’s books.

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What are you looking forward to reading this summer?