And There’s an End: Reviewing 2014, Setting Goals for 2015

So strange to think that this is my last post for the year! It’s been a bit of a rollercoaster, with my health, my activism, and my work. I’m actually kind of glad the year is ending, and I look forward to being more organised next year, and hopefully preventing another major health problem by taking care of myself.

I’m taking this time to set some intentional goals for the year. I’ve done a lot this year, but I have big plans for the next couple years, and setting goals now means I’m more likely to achieve some of my plans. Continue reading “And There’s an End: Reviewing 2014, Setting Goals for 2015”

June Read-a-thon Update: Day 13

Classes are great so far, but there’s so much reading associated with them! I’m gonna start including that here.

What I’ve read:

  • 24 pages of Partial List of People to Bleach by Gary Lutz. Notes: I thought this was creative non-fiction, but it’s actually fiction. And the pieces after the first two don’t feel as pretentious to me, so I’ve been back to reading this one again. There have been a few chunks of what I think is excellent writing, or what my poetry teacher called “moments of pleasure”, and I’ve been quoting them on my tumblr, as well as on Twitter (length permitting, of course).
  • 90 pages of Letters to a Young Poet by Rainer Maria Rilke [trans. M.D. Herter Norton]. Notes: finished.
  • 108 pages of The Rose That Grew From Concrete by Tupac Shakur. Notes: finished.
  • 173 pages of Faces at the Bottom of the Well by Derrick Bell. Notes: finished.
  • 8 pages of Anansi Boys by Neil Gaiman. Notes: no update.
  • 9 pages of Moby Dick by Herman Melville. Notes: I have actually been reading this one for about 8 years. I’ll periodically pick it up, read a few chapters, and then put it back down for months. It’s definitely the book that’s been on my currently reading list the longest. While some of the language is lovely, the plot drags, and there are whole chapters that are asides: 3 pages on whale skeletons, followed by 4 on whale fossils, 13 pages about “cetology” (the study of whales and dolphins), 9 pages examining various cultures use of white to show sanctity, 10 pages—comprising 3 consecutive chapters—comparing the head shapes and sizes of two kinds of whales, and so on. It’s a bit tough to get through, honestly.
  • 44 pages of Requiem for a Paper Bag by Davy Rothbart [Ed.]. Notes: I had the same problem with this as with Lutz’s book—the first couple of pieces seemed too pretentious for me, and a whole bunch of GoodReads readers and the reviewers from my local public library all agree. This one gets a shockingly low overall rating from tons of folks. This one actually is creative non-fiction: a collection of short pieces, it includes writing by “celebrities and civilians” telling the story of various found objects, brought together by the editor of Found Magazine. It’s been pretty hit or miss so far, but I have to read it for school, so I am.
  • 43 pages of The Works of Edgar Allan Poe by Edgar Allan Poe. Notes: this one is also for school, but I enjoyed it considerably more.
  • 19 pages of The Memoirs of Vidocq, Principal Agent of the French Police Until 1827 by Eugène François Vidocq [Trans. by H. T. Riley]. Notes: also for school. It seems rather more fanciful than an account of actual events, but is very entertaining, if meandering and long-winded.

Running page count: 518

June Read-a-thon Update: Day 5

There’s been a lot of unexpected work the last couple of days, and I have even more to do, but I’m getting the reading in every spare moment I can. I’ve always been a commute reader—I have an hour long commute to campus, which is lots of time—and it looks like I’ll be doing some of that the next few days. I have a board meeting tomorrow (yes, on a Saturday), and then a lunch meeting Monday in Salem, and then classes start on Tuesday, so I’ll be travelling around a bit the next few days.

Here’s my reading tally for the event so far:

  • 4 pages of Partial List of People to Bleach by Gary Lutz. Notes: this one’s in time-out. I can’t quite bring myself to finish it…
  • 90 pages of Letters to a Young Poet by Rainer Maria Rilke [trans. M.D. Herter Norton]. Notes: all finished! The rest of the letters had some great language, though the translation still bothers me. The second half of the book was a sort of run-down of Rilke’s life before the letters, and where he was and what projects he was working on when each letter was written, and that was in much more plain language, and far more interesting to me. I hate writing prescriptivism, and Rilke does plenty of that. 6/10, might read a different translation
  • 8 pages of The Rose That Grew From Concrete by Tupac Shakur. Notes: this one got laid down. I can’t read books of poetry all in one go. I have to read a few, set the book down, digest what I’ve read, and come back later.
  • 56 pages of Faces at the Bottom of the Well by Derrick Bell. Notes: loving this one! I’ve been meaning to read this since a friend recommended it to me a year and a half ago, and I’m so glad I’m finally doing it. While the subject matter is a bit heavy, it’s accessible, and it makes you think. I’ve also been inspired to write a short story, and an essay response—later, after the read-a-thon, when I’ll have more time.

Not too shabby—I tripled my word count in two days! I’m hoping to finish off Faces today, and that’ll boost me quite a bit if I can manage it. If not, I’ll polish it off tomorrow, and pick another book to start in on.

Running page count: 158

June Read-a-thon Update: Day 3

As I mentioned on Monday, I’m doing the Treesofreverie June Read-a-thon, and one thing has become clear: I don’t have as much free time as I thought I did!

Between editing stories and essays for others, doing my own writing, cooking, cleaning, problem-solving household issues, and every other unforeseen instance, I’ve had barely a moment to read. Here’s a run-down of what I’ve managed:

  • 4 pages of Partial List of People to Bleach by Gary Lutz. Notes: I’m remembering why I put this one down, for sure. The reading is really dense with metaphor, but mostly my problem is that it just seems really pretentious to me. Totally inaccessible. This one may move into my “Abandoned” folder on GoodReads—we’ll see.
  • 42 pages of Letters to a Young Poet by Rainer Maria Rilke [trans. M.D. Herter Norton]. Notes: I’m also remembering why I put this one down, and it’s totally the translator’s fault. This edition is from 1934, and the language is different from today’s, to say the least. Again, this one feels really pretentious to me. I’m gonna tough it out—I only have 48 pages to go, and I think I can make it happen today.
  • 8 pages of The Rose That Grew From Concrete by Tupac Shakur. Notes: I got interrupted by a phone call. I want to finish this one today, too.

Wow, okay; that looks way better when I write it all up! 54 pages in two days isn’t the best I’ve ever done, but considering all my other commitments, I’ve done worse. Hopefully, by Day 5 I’ll have knocked two or three books off the list.