"But in reading great literature I become a thousand men and yet remain myself."
-C.S. Lewis, An Experiment in Criticism
Every January I make new resolutions about what I'm going to read in the forthcoming calendar year. I've been doing this for at least seven or eight years (so we're talking as far back as sixth or seventh grade... yikes), and generally not meeting the standards I set for myself every year or even remembering wehich books I'd intended to read (cough...), but since the advent of my Goodreads account in 2012 or whatever it was, I've gotten a lot better at keeping track of the books I go through. Last year I set myself a goal of reading 50 books throughout 2014, but I only managed 36... this year I'm conveniently ignoring last year's record and setting another goal of 50 books. Heh. But this year I'm adding a little twist... the 50 can consist of any books I choose, provided I read all the books currently on my (and my sister's) shelves that I haven't yet read.
There turned out to be twelve titles spread between two bedrooms whose pages I had not yet covered. (...That sounded punnier in my head.) This doesn't sound like very much, but believe me, after years of reading and rereading every single book we had in the house that was within my reach, having twelve books in my (and my sister's) possession that I still haven't read yet is kind of mind-boggling.
Also, to be completely and totally honest, there are more than twelve books in our house that I haven't read. My parents have lots that I haven't ventured into yet, and even my sister has a couple more that I wasn't interested in. (I knowwwww I should read Ivanhoe at some point. But except for Anthony Andrews' face, which was pleasing to look upon, the movie bored me, and the book is really long and I just don't feel like getting into it right now.) So these twelve books are just the ones that I actually, y'know, have inclination for. (And they DO include all the unread books on my own shelves. Just for the record.)
Anyways. So. On to the books and their stories. The stories of how I got them, that is-- I'm not including novel summaries in this post. You can go look 'em up under your own steam later if you want to.
We begin with The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoyevsky, a snazzy little number I picked up at a library booksale for 50 cents. Or maybe it was 25. I don't remember. It was a pittance, anyway, and the book is a classic and I figured I'd better get around to reading the rest of it after actually enjoying the excerpts I had to read for 11th-grade World Lit, so I bought it. It's fat and pink and looks scholarly on my shelf, despite the somewhat cartoonish cover.
Villette by Charlotte Bronte was another inexpensive find at a local used-book store. Jane Eyre is one of my top favorite books ever ever ever, so it's about time I got around to reading more by the same author. I've actually gotten about ten chapters into Villette (about a year ago), which is no large feat because there are about sixty-eleventy-hundred chapters all told, but what I did read was enjoyable, so I'm looking forward to picking this up again.
The Small Rain and A Severed Wasp (sequel to the former) by Madeleine L'Engle were FREE. FREE GRATIS AND FER NOTHIN'. My aunt was cleaning out her basement and doing some major downsizing on her bookshelves, and when I was at her house last August she marched me into the rumpus room, sat me down in front of the shelves, handed me a Coffee Bean Direct tote bag (that's the company she works for-- and hey, look, I gave them a shout-out! There ya go, Aunt Meg! It's a thank-you to them for giving you so much free tea which you then pass on to your loving and grateful niece!) and told me to take whatever I wanted, because she needed all the books OUT, and naturally I obliged because I am an obliging and helpful sort of person, hence my newfound possession of two novels I knew very little of, besides the fact that they were written by Madeleine L'Engle, whose Meet the Austins I enjoyed immensely and whose A Wrinkle In Time was kinda weird but really well-written.
I am the queen of the run-on parenthetical sentence.
I had the privilege of winning The Exploits of Sherlock Holmes in Hamlette's giveaway last summer, and though I read the greater portion of this extremely captivating book while at the beach during said summer, I still haven't finished it. I tend to get caught up too easily with library books which have a ticking deadline, and the patient already-owned books on my own personal shelf get shoved to the wayside in the process. Sorry, Exploits. I'm coming back, I promise.
I saw the movie of Lorna Doone two years ago (and reviewed it!) and Anne-girl has read the book and enjoyed it (I swiped this one from her shelf, speaking of which) but I still haven't gotten around to doing so. It's not going to be quite exactly my cup of tea, I think (Anne and her Wilber are not quite sure what exactly my cup of tea IS)-- for I am told there's a part where John Ridd rips a tree up by the roots or cracks it in half or something just for the heck of it, and that kind of superfluous he-man-ism doesn't really make for enthralling reading in my book. (Ha. Haha. See what I did there.) BUT I'm willing to give it a try. We shall see.
Old Friends and New Fancies by Sybil G. Brinton has the distinction of being the very first sequel to Jane Austen's work-- it ties together Emma, Pride and Prejudice and Mansfield Park at least, and perhaps the other novels too. I can't remember now-- I got about a third of the way through this a couple of years ago when I bought it, but it went by way of Exploits and lost its popularity to a library usurper. Now I'm determined to pick it up again. (This was another find at a used-book store.)
Oh, look, and I got The Complete Plays of Gilbert and Sullivan at a used-book store too. Don't pretend you don't see a trend. This one was published in like 1917 or something and I got it for a dollar, so I felt it was a good bargain and I like reading plays, so it should be fun.
P.G. Wodehouse is, has been and will continue to be one of my favorite authors of all time. I don't actually know anything about The Little Nugget, but if it's half as good as the Jeeves books or the Blandings Castle books or The Plot That Thickened or any of his other stand-alones, I shall be quite satisfied. This one is Anne-girl's, by the by.
More Letters from Pemberley is a sequel to Letters from Pemberley by Jane Dawkins, and I haven't yet gotten my hands on the original, but I intend to do so, and then I'll read the sequel. (Can you guess where I picked up this little purple volume? Can you? Can you?)
Alison's Adventures by Lucy C. Lillie is so very old and out-of-print that it isn't even listed on Goodreads. (GASP.) So naturally when I saw it at a-- all together now!-- USED-BOOK STORE, I simply had to buy it. Look how pretty and cute and published-in-1918 it is. Now THAT's my cup of tea. (Spoiler alert, Anne and Wilber.)
The Man in the Iron Mask is a sequel to The Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas, and I still haven't even finished The Count of Monte Cristo, let alone The Three Musketeers, and between you and me I would rather eat a Three Musketeers bar than actually read the book, but that's neither here nor there. I don't actually know if this one will get read this year. Probably not. But I stuck it in there to fill out the even dozen, and hey, it also looks scholarly on my shelf. (Place a wild guess as to where I acquired this one.)
Sooooo, there are some of my reading goals for this year. What are yours?