Thursday, December 31, 2015

A Reading Treatise ~ A Long Winded Look at the Past, Present, and Future of my Reading Life...

Past: 2014

I read my Jane Austen anthology straight through (which includes: Sense and Sensibility, Pride and Prejudice, Mansfield Park, Emma, Northanger Abbey, Persuasion, & Lady Susan)! I had tackled the first 2 1/3 books in the past and with greater life experience, and exposure to the works, I certainly took more away this time around.

My least favorite was Emma and the two reasons are a) I am a farmer and she despised a farmer at the outset of the book. It is always hard to get into a book that you dislike the protagonist... sigh... The ONLY reason I continued was because I trusted the author... To think if it had been my first foray into Austen I might have never tried another! (YOU-HOO you silly goose you need to give Louisa May Alcott another shot!) And b) Jane Austen is *VERY* good at pulling out character defects and in my personal opinion Emma is just a little bit to much like me. *ahem*

My most loved favorite is Mansfield Park. Sadly I cannot explain why because it is loved in so many different ways! So, um, go read it!

Present: 2015

My main squeeze this year has been the ever lovely book (it is on my all time favorite list ya know the one where some non-prolific reader asks the most horrific question "What is your favorite book?" It is as if they had asked what shade the sky looks best in, you want to answer ALL OF THEM!!!! But knowing this might be a topic of small talk you compile a list in your head in preparation. However, if you are anything like me when they asked your mind goes blank and it is as if you have at once become a non-reading sheeple! Yet I digress greatly! ha! I used to love the word digress when I was younger, it seams as if I still do as I continue digressing at this very moment! So IF I remember this is a book that fits into that category.) Tolstoy is a master at capturing the essence of daily life from cradle to grave and everywhere in between! This was my first Russian novel and IT.WILL.NOT.BE.MY.LAST! Oh so good!

I have loved Levin and Kitty from the start. Although, I will make no excuse for Anna's sins, I however, do not acquit her lover Vronsky, nor her brother Stiva in my esteem! I wonder why she is the titled character? Also as to why she is the one I see poorly talked about? Are her sins worse than her brother's many "indiscretions" (not a spoiler, it is in the first chapter!) And what about Vronsky? His will wasn't any stronger in the face of loss! Is it because she is a woman and "Boys will be boys"? Sigh...

In addition as I have been mentally transitioning myself from Western Christian thought to Eastern Christian thought the Orthodoxy found within has been a balm to my soul!

My one gripe is that the edition I have left the French in well French and I do not read/speak French!

I was blessed to be able to participate in the Ambleside Online (AO) book discussion of Macbeth. It was magnificent!

I also read some mass produced Christian books that my Aunt had floating around my Grandfathers while he was so ill. They were mainly for distraction, gulped whole, and little remembered... However, one was about someone who was a Protestant reformer during a Catholic resurgence in England and it left a bad taste in my mouth... The author intended the reader to side with the proud, Protestant protagonist verses the angry, arrogant antagonists. Yet I found both sides fault ridden, theologically and otherwise... It left me sad that people martyr one another in the name of Christ... Sigh...

Future: 2016

Hopefully I will not find myself spread so thin this coming year what with care giving (requiring constant travel), loss, and mourning not to mention my ever declining health... And I am holding these plans loosely in my hands, yet I am trying to plan!

First priority are books relating to Divine Philosophy.

Devotional Reading
Prologue of Orchid (or is it Ohrid?), The Lenten Spring, The Winter Pascha, Orthodox Study Bible, & Prayer Book.

Sunday Reading
The Orthodox Faith Volume 1 ~ Doctrine & The Faith: Understanding Orthodox Christianity: An Orthodox Catechism.

My lovely mother provided me with all these resources as Christmas presents (The Winter Pascha was given in advance). She isn't Orthodox, but happy to see that God and I on good terms again. Isn't she wonderful!?!

My second priority are both Moral and Physical Philosophy. Due to my experience last year, I plan on participating in all the current official AO discussions, many of the informal ones, and some of the prior ones. And so without further ado, on to the lists!

Stream One
Hamlet, Utopia, The Holy War, Christopher Columbus: Mariner, & A Man for All Seasons

Stream Two
Paradise Lost, I Promessi Sposi, Westward, Ho!, & Fierce Wars and Faithful Loves

Current Informal Reads
Handbook of Nature Study, Euclid's Elements, & Move Your DNA

Past Reads & Recommended Books
Just So Stories (Y1~ I picked up a lovely vintage copy at the Washington Memorial Chapel bookstore when my Grandfather and I visited Valley Forge), Beowulf (Y7 ~ I was REALLY looking forward to this book discussion but life exploded), The Wisdom of Father Brown (Y8 ~ I loved the Innocence of Father Brown), The Count of Monte Cristo (Y9 ~ Prior book discussion), & The Scarlet Pimpernel (Y9 ~ Prior book discussion).

Independent Reading
The Art of Faith: A Guide to Understanding Christian Images ~ Is a lovely book that I picked up at the Cleveland Art Museum. It was actually sitting next to two Icons of Christ and the Theotokos!

The third priority this year is completing the 2016 Back to the Classics Challenge and the 2016 Mount TBR Reading Challenge. I intend to complete all 12 categories in the former and Pikes Peak in the latter.

2016 Back to the Classics Tentative Picks

  • A 19th Century Classic. ~ Westward, Ho! 
  • A 20th Century Classic. ~ A Man for All Seasons 
  • A classic by a woman author. ~ The Scarlet Pimpernel 
  • A classic in translation. ~ The Betrothed, I Promessi Sposi 
  • A classic by a non-white author. ~ The Count of Monte Cristo 
  • An adventure classic- can be fiction or non-fiction. ~ Christopher Columbus: Mariner 
  • A fantasy, science fiction, or dystopian classic. ~ Utopia 
  • A classic detective novel. ~ The Wisdom of Father Brown 
  • A classic which includes the name of a place in the title. ~ The Holy War, made by King Shaddai upon Diabolus, for the regaining of the metropolis of the world; or the losing and taking again of the town of Mansoul 
  • A classic which has been banned or censored. ~ Paradise Lost 
  • Re-read a classic you read in school. ~ Beowulf 
  • A volume of classic short stories. ~ Just So Stories 
2016 Mount TBR Reading Challenge

  1. Prologue of Ohrid Volume 1 
  2. Prologue of Orchid Volume 2 
  3. The Lenten Spring 
  4. The Faith: Understanding Orthodox Christianity: An Orthodox Catechism 
  5. The Winter Pascha 
  6. The Orthodox Faith Volume 1 ~ Doctrine 
  7. Hamlet 
  8. Utopia 
  9. The Holy War 
  10. Christopher Columbus: Mariner 
  11. A Man for All Seasons 
  12. Paradise Lost 
  13. I Promessi Sposi 
  14. Westward, Ho! 
  15. Fierce Wars and Faithful Loves 
  16. Handbook of Nature Study 
  17. Euclid's Elements 
  18. Move Your DNA 
  19. Just So Stories 
  20. Beowulf 
  21. The Wisdom of Father Brown 
  22. The Count of Monte Cristo 
  23. The Scarlet Pimpernel 
  24. The Art of Faith: A Guide to Understanding Christian Images 
As you can see there is quite a bit of overlap, this is intentional! I am, ahem, attempting, ahem, to be realistic! Also I have enough books on this list that I *technically* could be going for "Mount Blanc" and if it is looking promising I will "upgrade" however, I am attempting to be pragmatic (aka become less despondent if I don't make it)!