2010 Reading “Stats”

This is all very “unofficial” but I looked at all the books that I will have finished by the end of the month (53 in total – see my “My Book Lists” page) to determine how I came to read them.  Here are the results:

My main book club – 11 books. (we actually met 12 times, but July is our “Short Story Month” which I didn’t count here

My personal reading project (Project: Civil War books): – 11 books.  I wanted to get 12, but looks like I’ll have to count one that I read in December of 2009 to make that “goal”

Personally chosen: – 8 books (these are books that don’t fit into the other categories that I read on my own volition)

Books discovered through other blogs:  8 books (or 12 books if I count other books in a series, e.g. The Hunger Games, or The Millenium Trilogy of Stieg Larsson)  This number includes 2 “read-along” books.

My “new” book club (Kurt Vonnegut Memorial Library BC): – 5 books. Haven’t been to that many meetings, but I’ve read the books whether I’ve been able to make it (hey, they meet at 1130am on a Thursday – I have to work sometimes, you know…) or not.

Personally recommended by others: – 4 books  (looking back, these were some of my favorite books (of the year, too.  Perhaps I should give this “category” more attention…)

My off & on book club at Bookmama’s Bookstore – 3 books (one of these books also fit into my Civil War reading project)

Books I read about in the books section of the newspaper – 2 books 

What about you?  How did you come to read the books you read in 2010?

But What About Sir Walter Scott?

Yes, I know. I have neglected my reading of Guy Mannering, which I started in early February.  Part of the problem was that – at that time – I didn’t have a hard copy of the book and was relying on my FreeBooks app on my iPhone to read.  Then, when I bought my nook a few weeks ago, I downloaded a free copy of the book to that device as well.  The copy is not very good, however, as it is a ‘scanned’ one and has many words that are misspelled as a result of that process.  Very disappointing.  Maybe I can download a better copy, or maybe I will just get a hard copy of this one.

All that aside, however, I also struggle with the language, which is very different from modern English and makes the going quite slow, which is discouraging.  I am putting this book on the shelf for awhile.  But wait, I just remembered I have next Thursday and Friday off and was going to skip town to a quiet place ‘in the country’ (the name and location of which I care not to divulge).  Maybe the seclusion will allow me to get through it. Stay tuned…

Progress report: Gone With the Wind

As of this morning, I have completed part 2 (I think that’s up to chapter 19).

****READ NO FURTHER if you don’t want me to spoil anything…****

Ashley Wilkes is a POW in Rock Island, Illinois. Sherman’s army is “at the gates” of Atlanta. Rhett Butler is still ‘working on’ Scarlett. Melanie Wilkes is still oblivious to Scarlett’s true nature (seemingly). Scarlett is still remarkably self-centered in spite of all the suffering and privation surrounding her. Oh, and Melanie is pregnant (Scarlett is predictably upset by this development)

The Civil War is about 75% over (chronologically) but the book is only about 30% over. How is MM going to fill up another 600 pages? I will find out soon, hopefully…

Now reading: Gone With the Wind

This will be my fourth book in Project: Civil War.  It is a dauntingly long novel, with which I’m sure everyone is familiar.  It won the Pulitzer Prize in 1937 and, of course, was made into one of the most famous movies of all time. Now, frankly, I don’t give a damn (sorry, that was too easy) about movies per se and I am one of the probably few people who has never seen Gone With the Wind.  I have seen bits and pieces here and there, and have always meant to watch it, but never got around to it (or never had the four hours in a row to spare).

Now that I’m reading the novel, I consider my never having watched the movie a good thing.  I have been shocked, Shocked!  (there’s another famous movie for you) to learn a few things.  A)  Scarlett is only 16 years old at the start of the novel B) she actually got married and had a child with Melanie Hamilton’s brother Charles (who quickly dies, leaving her with child and in mourning)

As of this morning’s one-hour reading session while sipping my Starbucks (Grande Decaf with Hazelnut syrup with no room for cream), I am about 175 pages into the book (my version anyway), which finds Scarlett living in Atlanta, with her sister in law and ‘aunt-in-law’.  Those poor unfortunates assume Scarlett’s depression is due to her dead husband, and not the fact that she has to follow society’s conventions regarding mourning and is not “having any fun.”  Scarlett sees a chance at getting out, though, to help fill in with preparations for some party, and that is where I left her this morning.

I am enjoying the book so far.

Now reading Travels With Charley

This will be my second time around for this book.  It was picked by someone in my book club to be our book for March of this year. Since I already finished our February book, I thought I’d go ahead and refresh my memory on this one.  After one day I’m already about 40% through with it.  A great read.  Steinbeck is a quality writer, and I can really tell the difference compared to some of the other stuff I’ve read lately.

This book makes me want to go on a road trip… Oh, and get a dog, too. (but not a poodle; I mean, come on…)

Finished Book #7 of 2010

Just finished Company Aytch by Samuel Watkins this morning.  It is a memoir of the civil war by a private in the Army of Tennessee.   Total of 240 pages and fairly fast and compelling reading.  It is more a series of short two or three page sketches about various battles, incidents and people.

Watkins is “a good writer for just a Private” – that sounds bad, but I guess one expects the ‘rank and file’ of the army to not be as educated or literarily (is that a word?) adept.  The book was written over 20 years after the end of the war, and Watkins continually inserts the disclaimer that he’s “just a private soldier” and to “consult the histories” for more information.

He also has a habit of describing half the people in the book as “the best soldier ever to shoulder a rifle” or “the best soldier ever to tear a cartridge”, etc., etc.  Many of the descriptions in the book are not for the faint-hearted though, as war is, indeed, hell (I believe that quotation belongs to Sherman).

Well, that’s three books on the Civil War I’ve read this year (goal of 12), so I’m actually a month ahead (!)  (I’m never ahead on my projects.)

If you want to sample this book, it is available in the public domain.  Here is a link to the book on Google Books.

Finished Book #6 of 2010

Good morning all,

“Snowed in” this morning (well, not technically) so trying to get some work done on my blog.  Late last night I finished the 439 page “Storm Over the Land”.  I enjoyed it very much.  This book is actually ‘condensed’ down from Carl Sandburg’s famous 4-volume biography:  “Abraham Lincoln: The War Years.”    Someday, when I am feeling particularly ambitious, I may give that a try.  I am also happy that this book kind of ‘covered the bases’ in terms of the major points of the Civil War.  I believe this will give me a good framework for other books in my Civil War reading project.  Next up (in Project: Civil War (P:CW)) will be “Company Aytch” by Sam Watkins.  Looking forward to it

Oh, and as I mentioned earlier, I might try to commit the Gettysburg Address to memory.  For anyone out there who wants to join me, here it is:


Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this
continent a new nation, conceived in liberty and dedicated to the
proposition that all men are created equal. Now we are engaged in
a great civil war, testing whether that nation or any nation so
conceived and so dedicated can long endure. We are met on a great
battlefield of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of
that field as a final resting-place for those who here gave their
lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and
proper that we should do this. But in a larger sense, we cannot
dedicate, we cannot consecrate, we cannot hallow this ground.
The brave men, living and dead who struggled here have consecrated
it far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will
little note nor long remember what we say here, but it can never
forget what they did here. It is for us the living rather to be
dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here
have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here
dedicated to the great task remaining before us--that from these
honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which
they gave the last full measure of devotion--that we here highly
resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain, that this
nation under God shall have a new birth of freedom, and that
government of the people, by the people, for the people shall
not perish from the earth.

Guy Mannering

I have decided to try to read the second of Sir Walter Scott’s “Waverley Novels”. This book is one of the free ones available on my iPhone “Free Books” app. (well, the books are free, but the app is $1.99).

I am really finding the ‘ornate’ language of Scott’s books interesting. I’m also enjoying ‘knowing’ that I may likely be the “only person in the world” who is currently reading this book. I did a little research on the internet, and it’s always listed among his books, but there isn’t much ‘information’ out there.

“Forgotten” books like this kind of remind me of being on an “old road” or walking down an old lane that – though once a main thoroughfare – is rarely used anymore. One gets an odd feeling when walking or traveling along such byways (I’m remembering some around where my Granddad lived in West Virginia) that I find pretty cool…

Completed so far in 2010:

Here’s my list as of today:

(In the order in which I finished them)

1. The Smartest Guys in the Room (1/3-1/16) 14 days

2. Some Buried Caesar (1/18) 1 day

3. Uncle Tom’s Cabin (1/19-1/26) 8 days

4. The Quickie (1/29-1/30) 2 days

5. Waverley (12/5-1/31) 58 days

45 books to go in 2010!

Okay, so it’s “Waverley”

I just realized I’ve been misspelling this in prior posts. The good news, though, is that I finally did finish Sir Walter Scott’s “Waverley” Sunday morning. That is my fifth book completed this year. (Waverley, however, was the one ‘straggler’ that I actually started in 2009). It was tough going – about 2 minutes per page reading – mainly because of the language and numerous notes to the text.

I’m glad I stuck to it, though, and consider Scott a fine writer (as countless fans apparently did in the 19th century). I would like to read more of his works. I found a chronology of his published works on Wikipedia and would like to continue on (they all appear to be among my “freebooks” options on my iPhone app), but I must try to read them without other books distracting me – as I allowed to happen with Waverley.

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