2019 Wrap-Up and a Look Ahead to 2020

As I look back at my reading adventures in 2019 I am very happy with what occurred. Two major accomplishments were books I dreaded reading and surprisingly Anna Karenina and Moby Dick turned out to be two of my favorite books of the year.

I had plans to read more books by several writers that have become favorites since I started blogging and while I didn’t get to everyone I am pleased to have finished all of CS Lewis’s Narnia books (which helped me with my contribution to Witch Week and my post on the White Witch), read several novels and novellas by Edith Wharton and two novellas by Henry James.

Other highlights: I read my first Emile Zola and 4 volumes in Susan Cooper’s the Dark is Rising Sequence. Tracy Chevalier’s A Single Thread started me reading contemporary novels (which I post about on Instagram). Some reading experiences I treasured were Charlotte Bronte’s Villette, Mary Shelley’s, Frankenstein, Willa Cather’s, O Pioneers!, and Wharton’s, A Custom of the Country a masterpiece in class criticism of which she is a master. I was disappointed with Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde and with Virginia Woolf’s, Night and Day.

In 2020 I am looking forward to a quieter year here:

  1. I will finish my Classics Club list by September 13th!
  2. My attraction to Edith Wharton has grown and I have decided I want to read everything she has written! This year, though, I will start with books about her, the classic biographies by R.W.B. Lewis and Hermione Lee as well as Wharton’s own autobiography, A Backward Glance.
  3. Challenges and Readalongs/Readathons: Not many actual Challenges this year–Reading the Classics, European Reading Challenge and the Historical Fiction Reading Challenge, which will get books off my TBR shelves. I want to concentrate on readalongs and events that catch my eye. Four events at the moment have me excited, One Hundred Years of Solitude and War in Peace readalongs, The Wales Readathon and Zoladiction.

My 2020 should be subtitled The Year of the Chunkster or as Chris of Calmgrove calls them ‘doorstops!’ To finish out my Classics Club list I have Wives and Daughters, Portrait of a Lady and Middlemarch; I have committed to reading War and Peace, David Copperfield, Jane Austen’s, Emma; and several more near and over 500 pages. Yikes, what is the matter with me???

 

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In my personal life as a newly retired person life is still a little weird as I look onto a land of many paths. While I love reading and writing for Relevant Obscurity, there is more out there for me. I am looking forward to experiencing more literal trails in nature as well as the spiritual trails in my head. But I am lucky to be where I am now and so grateful for the possibilities.

And finally, Relevant Obscurity exists as a journal of personal reactions, a sensitivity to and awareness about my thoughts as I read and not as a book review blog, because this is why I read….
“A great book should leave you with many experiences, and slightly exhausted at the end. You live several lives while reading.”
William Styron

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To all my readers far and near I wish you a 2020 of nothing but the joy of living and participating in this wild world and especially, may all your book dreams come true!

Looking Toward 2018

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I don’t have a great desire to do a recap of 2017. I want to look forward. But I do want to mention two things that were important to me this year:

  1. Favorite books of 2017: I am making myself choose only four, three classics and one historical novel, even though it is an impossible task! Dracula, Northanger Abbey, House of Mirth, and Radio Girls.
  2. “Enriched by reading the reviews” of other bloggers’ books is one of the ways I would characterize this year as well as reading your comments on mine.

Number 2 brings me to my plans for 2018. I am going to concentrate on what I would call the foundational classics I have not yet read, like Pride and Prejudice, Wuthering Heights, and books by Elizabeth Gaskell, George Eliot and Oscar Wilde. I want to read Rebecca and find out why it is on so many top ten list of favorites. And maybe I’ll tackle a Woolf.

And I want to read some American foundational classics like Uncle Tom’s Cabin and Moby Dick and books by Willa Cather and Henry James. Maybe do some traveling with Charley. Louisa May Alcott wrote so many other books besides Little Women…time to dust some off? And I want to find out more about Sarah Orne Jewett whose The Country of the Pointed Firs I so enjoyed in 2016.

 

 

In order to help with these deficiencies, I am taking part in a number of (overlapping) challenges, including Roof Beam Reader’s TBR, Back to the Classics and the Victorian Reading Challenge. These will also help me with my Classics Club list.

Since I can’t deny my attraction to the 19th century, I am also going to read more historical fiction that takes place in that time period, so I have signed up for the Historical Fiction Reading Challenge.

The second emphasis for the year is to expand my awareness outside the UK and US by concentrating on Reading all Around the World that I neglected last year,  participate in the European Reading Challenge and Doing Dewey’s Nonfiction Challenge. I can’t promise I will stay out of the 19th and early 20th centuries with these challenges, however, but more history and different perspectives and experiences is always a good thing!

I am also doing a personal challenge on the American Civil War with thanks to Jillian who helped me craft the categories.

Good gracious, this is a lot! And I know there will be readalongs and other events throughout the year that I will participate in…well, a good way to stay out of trouble!

I wish you all a Happy and Prosperous New Year!