Tuesday, 29 December 2015

Reading Plan for 2016

I have been thinking about what my own challenges will be for the upcoming year. I think I have finalised it.

Novels and TBR Triple Dog Dare:
The first three months will be devoted to the Triple Dog Dare of TBR books (link here on James Reads Books).  It is not too late to sign up. The dare finishes on 1 April and I see this as good motivation to read both my vintage Penguin books and my non-Penguins on the shelves.
However I am also combining this challenge with a list of books on My Library Thing that I own and matching it to 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die. You can search My Library using the name TravellinPenguin.

I will start at the back of the 1001 Books.... book and turn the pages one at a time. When I come across the first book I own that will be my read.  I like the 21st and 20th Century books more than the very ancient ones. So I am starting there. I will see how far I get. Many of the book in this reference book are published in Vintage penguins.  I can also align the 20th century books to the Classic Club's A Century of Reading challenge. I would like to get more of those  years completed.

Short Stories:
I will use a set of Giant Playing Cards I Own and align those choices to two books.  I have a book called A World of Great Stories edited by Hiram Haydn and John Cournos, published 1947.

The other book is called That Glimpse of Truth; 100 of the Finest Short Stories Ever Written Selected and Introduced by David Miller, published 2014.

 I will choose a card on the 1st of the month from the World of Great Stories and on the 15th of the month from That Glimpse of Truth. I will align that card to the relevantly marked short story. Many of these short stories have been translated and I feel I will get a good taste of various countries. I hope to find the time to blog about both stories each month.

I will devote early mornings to non-fiction books for 30 to 60 minutes as I drink my morning coffee. I will read one or two chapters per day 4 or 5 mornings a week. I will write about these as I go.  I plan to make this more of a discussion for others to join in on with their comments.  I am starting with Susan Wise Bauer's book The Well Educated Mind: A Guide to the Classical Education You Never Had.

Library Books

Book Jar
Now what do I do with all those book reviews and recommendations from friends? How do I use the library?  I have a book jar for library books.  Whenever I hear of a book that sounds really interesting I put the name of it on a piece of paper, fold it up and put it in the jar.  I will pick out the name of that book and book it through holds on the library web page. When it comes in I will read it. Once read I will choose another book from the jar. If the wait is more than 100 days long as new books often are, I will choose a second slip of paper from the book jar. These books, as they are only reserved one at a time will not count for the three months of TBR Triple Dog Dare challenge. We must support our libraries.

Literary Magazines
There are many Australian Literary magazines and their numbers seem to be increasing. I will read some of the articles in these to round out more information of current reading happening in this country. I will plan that reading in the evenings or when I am too tired for anything else. These magazines also include quite a bit of poetry which is sadly lacking from my experiences lately.

Book Group
I currently belong to two book groups but one will be the main one I attend over another one. There will be more about this new book club I have been accepted into when I attend my first meeting at the end of January. It is more social but I understand they are serious about books.  We meet in the lounge of a large hotel on the Hobart Waterfront in the evening. They often go to movies together after reading the book and it is not as formal as the other book club I belong to. I have followed their Facebook page for more than a year as I waited for an opening to come up. Members choose the books.

The other book group has been with the independent book store of Fullers. There are several reading groups that meet during the first week of the month at the store. Members do not choose the books. Often books are not chosen that are thought to upset some  members.  It is more formal and once the discussion is over that is it until the next month. Everyone reads the same book from month to month and people swap days and times for convenience so the continuity is often disrupted regarding those who attend. No chance for making solid friendships.  However they do choose good books that make me think and if I can carry it off I will attend some of their group meetings as they are enjoyable when they occur.

I think all of this will keep me busy and once again I hope I haven't bitten off more than I can chew. If so then I will reassess the situation down the track a bit.

I plan on updating the blog more often as my reading gets underway. I also plan on having a weekend wrap up that sums up some of the high and low points of the previous week. I really enjoy blogs that have a personal side to them and I hope others feel the same way. It is a good way to get to know the person and become friends with those others who share common interests.

I am really enjoying seeing what everyone else is up to on their blogs regarding their 2016 plans. It is lots of fun and I hope to get some serious work done as well as enjoy those fluffy, light hearted times that pop up here and there. Enjoy 2016.

Monday, 14 December 2015

Brilliant Careers: The Virago Book of 20th Century Fiction

I wanted to share this older  book with people who may not be aware of it.  It is called Brilliant Careers: The Virago Book of 20th Century Fiction.  They also publish Virago Book of Women Travellers. I found a copy of that on Abebooks.com for $3.00 in Australia so have ordered it as I love travel writing and had not seen this before.

I digress. I am thinking quite seriously of what I want to read in 2016. As Virago publishes books by women writers I think that would appeal.  I don't want to buy a lot of books next year. I have a lot of TBR books on the shelves. However there is one second hand book shop in the city that is excellent and I do like to browse their shelves. (Cracked and Spineless)
I don't find a lot of second hand Viragos in Hobart. But when I do find the odd one I pick it up and it always looks interesting.

What is nice about the '20th Century' book is that it lists one Virago book for each year of the 20th Century.  It would be good to find a couple on my shelves or at the tip/op/second hand shop and read it towards my Century of Books challenge.

I am thinking about the reading challenge that 2016 will be. I'll post more up around the new year as it's not ready yet.

However I would like it to contribute towards my books on the shelves waiting to be read. I am looking at my reference books on the shelf and trying to fit them into the challenge that will be 2016.

I am looking at the books 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die, 501 Must Read Books, the Best American Non-required Reading and the Virago books.  My Penguin books are included in much of this so that goes without saying.

I think if I were to go through the indexes of the above books I would find enough on my challenges that would match the list.  I could stay quite busy for a year.

Then there are two book groups I am beginning the year with.  I may cut that down to one though if it proves to be too much.

I didn't read as much in 2015 as I usually do because I had home projects to complete. Now they are behind me I am ready to have a more cultured year.

I will talk more about that in January.

So for now,  enjoy hearing about the Virago Book of 20th Century Fiction and let me know if you have heard of it before.  Here are some more details.

"A Writer for every year of the 20th Century" is on the front cover. It is a hard cover book with a dust jacket. On the back cover of the jacket is a list of every writer mentioned for each year. Examples are:

1915: Katherine Mansfield
1928: Virginia Woolf

1940:  Martha Gellhorn
1948:  Dodie Smith

1977:  Marilyn French
1985:  Janette Turner Hospital

1989:  Margaret Atwood
1999:  Sarah Waters

The copyright is 2000; Edited by Kasia Boddy, Ali Smith and Sarah Wood

So stay tuned to see what direction is taken in the new year.

Wally says Hi and wants to
know if your Christmas shopping
is finished yet.

Saturday, 12 December 2015

Emma and the Spin Number

Busy with book happenings this week.  I am enjoying the Read-a-long with Dolce Bellezza of the book Emma by Jane Austen.

I am supposed to finish Part II by today so hopefully I will finish it by tomorrow if not today. Still have a few chapters to go.

I have never read Jane Austen's books and I really  thought I would not enjoy them but having now read Pride and Prejudice earlier in the year and now Emma they really are great fun.

I won't review Emma as it has been done by too many people that know more about her than I do over the past 200 years but I do have thoughts on the book.

It was slow to get started but listening to the audio book from Audible.com and also reading along with my lovely Penguin Cloth classic hardcover I am able to focus on the print while hearing the English accents. The narrator is great fun and very entertaining as she reads the Bates ladies.  Especially the younger one that talks so fast. She is also very good with the  male voices. All of the voices are quite different from one another and it does anchor the characters in my mind.

The Knightley's were confusing at first but I have them sorted now now.  Emma is most annoying with all of her meddling and matchmaking that usually blows up in her face. Of course her station in life is so much better than most of the other characters and she doesn't let you forget it. and I enjoy watching her flaunt her attitude over everyone.

I enjoy the day to day activities and feel as though I am following her around the area as it is described so well.  I am currently at the part in the book before Chapter II ends as she really does struggle with Jane Fairfax and the pianoforte. I am looking forward to seeing how everyone ends up. I am more attached to the characters than I thought possible and I find myself thinking of them as I travel down the road on my motorbike into town to do my Christmas shopping.  My life is certainly different to theirs.

This is the first read-a-long I have participated in and it is great to follow along on the Twitter Feed, #Emma200th.  Though I find I need to keep up for if I read the feed and am too far behind the tweets turn into spoilers.

Part III should begin about Monday and I do hope to have it finished by the next weekend.

There is also the Classic Club spin number to begin reading just after Christmas. I have set aside the week between Christmas and New Year's to read this book. It is a vintage Penguin, about New South Wales 200 years ago.  I am a bit apprehensive about it as I think I could be very dry but I will give it a shot and see how I go.  It is called Notes and Sketches of New South Wales (Penguin Colonial Series)
Written in 1844 originally, published by Penguin in 1973.
                                                                      It is hard to believe that 2015 is so close to an end and 2016 about to begin. I am really looking forward to the New Year and I hope everyone else is too.

Advice for this week:  Breathe. The running around for Christmas is exhausting, remembering all of the little things that need to be done.  Write it all on a list and plan at least an hour a day to sit with a coffee, tea or glass of wine and read to calm the mind.  I find it is really lovely to slip into Jane Austen's world after running around in mine.

Merry Christmas from Australia

Monday, 7 December 2015

The Classic Club Spin with Vintage Penguins

Today (Monday) is the Spin for the Classics Club.
As Monday in Hobart comes almost a full day after the USA and UK I am still able to get my book list up before the number is picked.

Nothing like leaving it for the last minute but it as been a bit busy what with the Secret Santa things to get out, the Emma read along with Dolce Bellaza and the regular posts.

I have decided as I have this wonderful Penguin book collection I will
use the Spin days for Penguin reading.  I spend lots of time hunting them but not nearly enough time reading them. I am hoping this will change in 2016. 

I went to the shelves and picked 20 books randomly from several different series. Some will be easier reads and some a bit more dry but they all went into the pack.

Here are my choices for the spin.

1. How I came to know fish by Ota Pavel (Central European classics)

2. Village Christmas (Miss Read)

3. Notes from Madras by Colonel Wyvern (Great Food series)

4. Rock Gardens by E. B. Anderson (Penguin Handbook 1959)

5. To-morrow by Joseph Conrad (Penguin 80th anniversary classic 64)

6. Pictures from an Institution by Randall Jarrell (Penguin no 1249 - 1959)

7.  Be Ready with Bells and Drums by Elizabeth Kata (no 1817 - Penguin 1963)

8. The Hill of the Red Fox by Alan Campbell McLean (no PS208 Puffin)

9.  Quick Service by P.G. Wodehouse (no 994 - Penguin 1954- original 1940)

10.  Public Enemy by Hugh Clevely (no 1618 - Penguin crime 1961)

11.  September Roses by André Maurois (no1806 - 1962)

12. The Night is Darkening Round Me by Emily Bronté (80th Anniversary Classic no 63)

13. Across the River and into the Trees by Ernest Hemingway (no 2425 - Penguin publ 1966)

14.  The Bafut Beagles by Gerald Durrell (cerise Penguin no 1266 - Penguin publ  1958)

15. The St Trinian's Story by Ronald Searle (graphic-cartoons) (no 1659- Penguin publ 1959)

16. A High-Pitched Buzz by Roger Longrigg (no 1676- Penguin publ 1962)

17. A Dissertation upon Roast Pig and other Essays by Charles Lamb (Great Food series)

18. Ballooning (King Penguin Series 1948)

19. Notes and Sketches of New South Wales (Penguin Colonial Facsiniles 1st publ 1844 Australia-
                                                                          Penguin Publ 1973)

20. Maigret and the Burglar's Wife (no 1362 Penguin green crime Penguin Publ 1959)

Thursday, 3 December 2015

Getting Geared Up for 2016

I am going to steal Jane's alphabet letters from her blog Beyond Eden Rock. I always enjoy it when she does her list. I, like many bloggers always enjoy a good list whether I run with it or not, always a joy to read.

I am wrapping up 2015 because as usual, when December rolls around, I am well and truly ready to move on. I know, wishing my life away, but blank slates are most appealing and that is what lies ahead.

2015 was a year of downsizing, de-cluttering and making changes in the way I think, act and participate in life.  I dropped some very negative people in my life and befriended several positive ones. Photography, photoshopping and writing groups found other active, inspired retirees who don't moan and groan all the time.

I have also been lucky enough to finally get an invite into a book club I have wanted to join for more than a year.

I have been in Fuller's book shop club for several years. Although it has been fun it has been pretty prescriptive and once the 90 minutes of discussing books is over there is no  more social interaction.

This book group meets in the lounge of a very nice hotel on Hobart's waterfront. Coffee and wine is available, the group is small as numbers are limited and members often go to films together, pick a couple of books per month and have a busy Facebook page.  My first meeting will be 27 January at 7:30 pm.  The books up for discussion are The Gilded Hour by Sara Donati and Flying Tangines and Magic Lobster by James Whaley.  I have heard of the Gilded Hour but not the James Whaley book. We are to read one or the other or both. I think I will begin with the Gilded Hour.

Now before I get too involved in talking about the past year and before I really get started in our next year here we go......

A is for the Advent Colouring Calendar I sent my sister that she is now working on. Each day has a  
    different Christmas picture to colour. The colouring craze really is amazing.

B is for Buying New Books for Christmas and my Secret Santa person

C is for Colouring Book craze that I admit to being a small part of. I like to
    work on the detail while listening to an Audio Book before bed.

D is for Dogs running around the house and yard and their excitement over
   very small things. We can learn a lot from dogs.

E is for the Emma read along I am currently participating in with Dolce
   Belleza (here). It is not too late to start if you're interested.
   We're reading Part this week. I am reading  my Penguin classic
   that is a beautiful book but listening to audible.com as well so I get the English accents. Great fun.

F is for Friends. Friends are the most valuable people in the world. Where would any of us be without  

G is for a Gilded Hour which I realise is quite thick and I need to have it read
    soon into January.

H is for Harried, which I always feel this time of year. I am so glad once it is
   over and the long days
   of summer lie ahead with no shopping or cooking for people.

I is for interesting things going on in Hobart. There is always a festival, a
   lecture, a rally on Parliament lawns and the summer only makes it more so.

J is for Jumping on my scooter and heading to the rural Op and Book shops to hunt for Penguin books.  I plan on continuing that tradition in 2016.

K is for kickstarting the brain and paying closer attention to my new
    photography skills and writing group. Both are very challenging.

L is for lying in a chaise lounge on a sunny warm day and reading. I
    am really looking forward to that.

M is for meeting up with friends over coffee and creme brûlée tarts at
     the book shop cafe.

N is for my lovely (k)neading cats who settle beside me at night and pummel my sides, or my head.

O is for Other People cooking as summer means eating out a bit more and enjoying country show

P is for preparing Penguin Books history presentations to
   community groups. I have completed two one hour sessions and
   have two, possibly three more groups to share the joy of my
   Penguin collection with.

Q is for the quirky things I need to wade through when visiting the Op and Tip shops for my vintage

R is for Reading. Reading, reading, reading. I look forward to talking about more books next year
    with friends, book groups and posts with blogging friends.

S is for my Samsung phone which I loved and killed when falling into a river at the dog beach last
   week. Tried the rice immersion and reset but it really is dead.

T is for Thursday and alternate Wednesday midweek bike rides with
   my motorbike group where we ride from bakery to bakery in the
   beautiful country side.

U is for Under the Japanese Maple Tree where my previous pets
    now lie in peace and planting summer flowers in their memory.

V is for the book The Lady in the Van which
    is our March read and the film with Maggie
    Smith is soon to follow. Love Maggie  

W is for Water. Water at the Dog's beach, cold Water to drink on hot summer days, Water for the garden. Water for the Bush fires that crop up every summer.

X is for my annual x-ray of my head to see if I have more MS lesions for the
   year. So far they have all been stopped and I am thankful for that. I am
   also thankful that they actually find a working brain.

Y is for the Yellow Mini Cooper I dream of owning but  need to
    win the lottery first.

Z is for Zeitgeist and what it might reflect for 2016.