January 2018 and My Reading Challenges

Christmas at the Town Hall
© Cleo @ Classical Carousel

I’ve decided to include my reading challenges in this post because I’ve been doing so little reading lately that I’d have little to say otherwise.  Isn’t that pathetic?  Oh well, a new year is here and with it new resolutions, so here goes ……..

December went by so quickly.  My grandmother ended up passing away 4 days before Christmas.  It wasn’t unexpected but still it was sad to see her go.  We’ll certainly miss her but it was fun to remember her stories and the spunk she showed until the end. She had a long life, well lived.

Otherwise, I spent lots of time on the food blog and was so pleased with our 4 months of success.  You can read our 2017 Year in Review, if you want some stats, highlights, bloopers, funny tasting stories and if you want to see what I’ve been up to.  It was actually alot of fun to write.  I also was able to make it cross-country skiing once.  It was lots of fun, although I can tell I need some practice and my healing-once-broken-thumb does not have the power it used to yet, so I was feeling somewhat lopsided.  In any case, I plan to do much more skiing as the year progresses.  I also went bowling between Christmas and New Years and really enjoyed it so I think I might try to do it more regularly as well.  Too exciting, I know …… , lol!

A View from Nordic Skiing
© Cleo @ Classical Carousel

As for reading, I did finish off The Pickwick Papers from O’s long read-along and almost in time too!!  I also managed to read The Art of Loving by Erich Fromm and I was SOOOO impressed by it. Fromm examines the very rare art of loving and explains that our society does NOT practice any disciplines that will help us love better.  He also gives examples of various views we hold about love that impede our ability to love.  While reading these views, I kept recognizing people I knew ….. it was rather unsettling but very insightful.  I highly recommend Fromm’s book!

An Unexpected Local Ice Storm
very beautiful but the poor trees!
© Cleo @ Classical Carousel

January is usually the time to start our yearly challenges and while I originally was so disappointed with my 2017 reading that I was going to do NO challenges this year, O managed to change my mind (although perhaps she doesn’t know this! 😉 )  So I am joining the following challenges with little hope of completing them but knowing they will at least focus me and I will read SOMETHING by having them.  Okay, here goes:

Back to the Classics Challenge:

Karen at Books and Chocolate hosts this great challenge again and here are my choices:

A 19th century classicMoby Dick by Herman Melville
A 20th century classic: The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
A classic by a woman author: Mary Barton by Elizabeth Gaskell
A classic in translation: Tevye the Dairyman and Motl the Cantor’s Son by Sholem Aleichem
A children’s classic: Teddy’s Button by Amy Lefeuvre
A classic crime story, fiction or non-fiction: Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevsky
A classic travel or journey narrative, fiction or non-fiction: Journey to the Center of the Earth by Jules Verne, or Travels with a Donkey in the Cévennes by Robert Louis Stevenson
A classic with a single-word title: Meditations by Marcus Aurelius or, Shirley by Charlotte Brontë or, We by Yevgeny Zamyatin or, Pensées by Blaise Pascal
A classic with a colour in the title: The Red Badge of Courage by Stephen Crane
A classic by an author that’s new to you: A Journey to the Western Islands of Scotland and a Journal of a Tour to the Hebrides by Samuel Johnson and James Boswell or, Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain
A classic that scares you: The Mysteries of Udolpho by Ann Radcliffe or, The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco
Re-read a favourite classic: The Iliad by Homer


TBR Pile Challenge:

Adam at Roof Beam Reader is hosting this challenge to get those books on our shelves read!  My list is here:
  1. Journey to the Center of the Earth by Jules Verne
  2. The Red Badge of Courage by Stephen Crane
  3. A Journey to the Western Islands of Scotland and a Journal of a Tour to the Hebrides by Samuel Johnson and James Boswell
  4. Moby Dick by Herman Melville
  5. Tevye the Dairyman and Motl the Cantor’s Son by Sholem Aleichem
  6. Lives by Plutarch
  7. City of God by Saint Augustine
  8. Titus Groan by Mervyn Peake
  9. The Waves by Virginia Woolf
  10. The Prince by Niccolo Machiavelli
  11. Dead Souls by Nikolai Gogol
  12. Le Rêve by Émile Zola
Travels with a Donkey in the Cévennes by Robert Louis Stevenson
Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain

Victorian Challenge:

This is my first year doing this challenge.  Becky at Becky’s Books and Reviews has a number of options.  I have no idea which I’m going to choose at the moment.  I’d love to do the A-Z challenge but I would be delusional to take on that one.  So I will probably just read and fill in some categories.  You can click on the link to look at the categories.

Deal Me In Challenge:

Jay at Bibliophilopolis hosts this challenge and has been very patient with my stumbling attempts to get through it.  I have no illusions that I’ll finish it this year but what I love about this challenge is that it gets me reading wonderful stories, poems and essays which I would normally never pick up.  So I can be happy with my incompletedness each year ….. kind of …..
I took what I didn’t finish from last year and simply chose new books to fill in the spots where I did read the stories/poem/essay.  Rather boring, but easy.  I need easy this year.
Clubs – Short Stories
A –  Cabbages and Kings – O’Henry
3 –  The Queen of Spades – Alexander Pushkin
4 –  The Story of A Farm Girl – Guy Maupassant
5 –  The Hammer of God (Father Brown) – G.K. Chesterton
6 –  Doubtful Happiness – Guy Maupassant
7 –  The Honest Thief – Fyodor Dostoyevsky
8 –  The Unpresentable Appearance of Colonel Crane – G.K. Chesterton
9 –  The Diary of a Madman – Guy Maupassant
10 – The Birds – Anton Chekhov
J –  The Yellow Wallpaper – Charlotte Gilman
Q –  Love – Leo Tolstoy 
K –  Signs and Symbols – Vladimir Nabakov
Spades – Essays
A – Milton – Charles Williams
3 – A Midsummer Night’s Dream – G.K. Chesterton
4 – On A Faithful Friend – Virginia Woolf
5 – A Note on Jane Austen – C.S. Lewis
6 –  In Defence of Literacy – Wendell Berry
7 –  The Tyranny of Bad Journalism – G.K. Chesterton
8 –  The Hotel of the Total Stranger – E.B. White
9 –  An Apology for Idlers – Robert Louis Stevenson
10 – Sense – C.S. Lewis
J – Sex, Economy, Freedom & Community – Wendell Berry
K – Death of a Pig – E.B. White
Diamonds – Poetry
A – A Sea Dirge – Lewis Carroll
2 –  Gesang Der Geister Über Den Wassern – Johann Wolfgang
               von Goethe
3 – Nothing But Death – Pablo Neruda (from Poetry Soup)
4 – Sonnett XXIII – Garcilaso de la Vega
5 – Love Sonnet XIII – Pablo Neruda
6 – Resolution and Independence – William Wordsworth
7 – Ode III – Fray Luis de León
8 – Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night – Dylan Thomas
9 – To A Mouse – Robert Burns
10 – From Milton [Jerusalem] – William Blake
J –  Easter Wings – George Hebert
Q – On His Blindness – John Milton
K – Phoenix and the Turtle – William Shakespeare
Hearts – Children’s Classic
A – A Triumph for Flavius – Caroline Dale Snedeker
2 – Three Greek Children – Alfred Church
3 –  The Story of the Treasure Seekers – E. Nesbit
4 – Detectives in Togas – Henry Winterfeld
5 – The Spartan – Caroline Dale Snedeker
6 – Shadow Hawk  Andre Norton
7 – City of the Golden House – Madeleine Polland
8 – Red Sails to Capri – Ann Weil
9 – Sprig of Broom – Barbara Willard
10 – Teddy’s Button – Amy LeFeuvre
J –  Call It Courage – Armstrong Sperry
Q – Just David – Eleanor H. Porter
K – Beyond the Desert Gate – Mary Ray 

What is that saying about a wing and a prayer, lol?!

© Cleo @ Classical Carousel


As for other less bookish things planned for January, I am going to, of course, keep working on and building our food blog, Journey to the Garden.  It’s something I enjoy (although not quite as much as book blogging) and if I could make some income from it I would be very pleased.  Skiing, of course, is planned and I’m starting a few lessons that I was able to join inexpensively with some homeschoolers, so that will be fun.  I also REALLY need to get back into some sort of exercise regime.  I’ve been doing some brief aerobics regularly, but I want to incorporate walking, and of course, I’d love to get back into yoga.  On the distasteful side, tax prep should be started now, so I’m not scrambling last minute to do it, and with the added blog for (hopefully someday) profit, I have many more expenses to track.  I wish it could be magically done, but I’m the only magician around here so it’s up to me.  Sad but true.  But honestly, my main wish for January is to get back to being organized.  Prayers and wishes for this miracle are gratefully accepted, lol!

In any case, hoping for a wonderful start to the year for everyone!

© Cleo @ Classical Carousel



0 thoughts on “January 2018 and My Reading Challenges

  1. For someone who was going to do NO challenges, you certainly caved like an alcoholic at a bar 😉
    On the flipside, you seem to do pretty good with that kind of structure for reading so I hope it all works out for you…

  2. I’m so sorry to hear about your grandmother. I know the feeling, as I have lost both of mine. I’m glad to her she had a life well-lived.

    I’m inteigued by Fromm’s book. Considering my current TBR stack, it may be another year or two before I read it, but i’ve marked it on GoodReads.

    I see you listed Marcus Aurelius’s Meditations in one of your challenges. I highly recommend it. Stoicism is a fascinating study, and what makes Marcus’s work even more interesting is that it was his private journal, never intended for public eyes, much less publication. It means that Meditations gives you an honest view into who the man was, and I have to admit I developed a deep respect for him.

    Good luck to you in all of your endeavors: frkm skiing, to bowling, to food blogging, to exercising…and, of course, reading. 😉


  3. Fromm was popular in the sixties; he had a share in the hippy movement, if i remember correctly… it looks like you're keeping yourself busy; well, as "they" are wont to say: "busy hands are happy…" etc. good luck with your projects…

  4. I'm so excited for you. So many books I look forward to your thoughts (ie. Grapes of Wrath, Moby Dick, Red Badge of Courage, Crime and Punishment, Tom Sawyer, if you get to it).

    Congratulations on the obvious success of your food blog. That is a lot of work in such a short time, and it looks very professional.

  5. Your winter photos are so lovely! I've always wanted to cross-country ski, it sounds fun, and relaxing compared to downhill ski.

    I'm sorry for the loss of your grandmother. My grandpa suffers from increasing memory problems…it's tough, especially during the holidays. We try to make the most of each moment with him.

    Your challenges for 2018 look awesome! If you end up reading Moby-Dick, give me a holler, I might want to join you. 🙂

    Take care and enjoy all your reading this year!

  6. Lol! Okay, you gave me my laugh for the day! I did cave. I'm good at that where books are concerned. 😉

    I would like to have less structure but that would only work if I was less busy. And I can never seem to manage that. We'll see how I do.

  7. Thanks for your condolences, Kenia. It was sad around Christmas time.

    I hope you get to read Fromm ….. I think he'd be right down your alley.

    I've read tiny bits of Meditations and have enjoyed it. I believe that I'll like Aurelius too!

    Thanks for the wishes! I'm very glad to get them! 🙂

  8. The hippy movement ….. that surprises me since he focuses on discipline, patience and concentration. That said, he did sound very counter-cultural in his own way.

    I've never heard of that saying but thanks for quoting it. It makes me feel better! 🙂

  9. Thanks for the excitement …. I need it to replace some of the trepidation that I'm feeling. I still haven't gotten a grip on the new year but next week, I will, once the house settles down to routine again (or as near to routine as I can get!). And thanks for the congratulations! I'm working hard and seeing it pay off …… Hope you have a great reading year and that we can meet up somewhere nearby on the WEM challenge somewhere during it. 😉

  10. I was glad to have done some fun activities among the busyness of the season. Thanks for your condolences. I'm so glad that you're aware of enjoying every moment. 96 years seems long but when it ends, it no longer does.

    I might read Moby Dick sooner than later. If I can clear City of God and The Republic, it will probably be up next. I'll certainly let you know. It would be fun to read with you!

    You take care too and happy reading!

  11. Best of luck! I looked for your list but couldn't find it. Perhaps you're as adverse to lists as I am, lol! In any case, I'm going to try to figure out a schedule for myself and see how that goes. If I don't finish all, I at least want to finish as many as I can.

    Thanks for stopping by!

  12. Nice choices on your Back to the Classics list. I'll be watching for your reviews. Especially interested in C&P and Grapes of Wrath (I loved both). Isn't Tevye…the sequel to Fiddler on the Roof?

  13. Thanks! I'm sure I'll love C&P but I'm not sure about Grapes ….. I didn't particularly like East of Eden, so we'll see …. I believe Fiddler on the Roof was based on Tevye the Dairyman, but I'm not 100% certain. I'll find out before I start. All the best in 2018 to you, Joseph!

  14. I'm sorry to hear about your grandmother, that's very sad.

    Your challenges look good. Glad you're joining after all, and I hope you won't be cursing me in a few months 😉 For my sake as well as yours, good luck! 😀

  15. I cannot say I love Grapes of Wrath, because it is so bleak in some ways, but it is a book which draws me again and again and I am as always touched by the kindness that Steinbeck brings forth in mankind. Mary Barton is good….Gaskell doing what she does best! Funny thing…I am reading Mediation right now! 🙂 I am very sure I WILL join you for some books at the very least for the Victorian Challenge. Also if you choose to read Eco, please let me know. Me is petrified as well and me needs to read it, so me will seek moral support, courage and reading comradeship from thee! I love the pictures….Snow looks lovely! I hope you had a great time skiing and hope this tax season will be a little better for you!! Happy Reading!

  16. I’m sorry about your grandma; I know even when it’s expected losses around the holidays can be difficult. Cherish your happy memories!

    Glad to see you joining in on Back to the Classics and Adam’s TBR Challenge! I wasn’t going to do any challenges either this year, but then I realized that my reading plans (such as they are) aligned nicely with both. It sounds like you have some great books planned! Incidentally, I’m currently mid Mary Barton (started in December, so I can’t count it) and I can believe how “current” it feels. I look forward to your thoughts on it. I read The Name of the Rose a few years ago for a readalong, and while it was a bit dense to get through I ended up really enjoying it.

    I hope you enjoy all your many plans (indoors and out) and happy reading!

  17. I am very sorry to hear about the loss of your grandmother. May you find solace in your memories and refreshment in reading. The Art of Loving book you mentioned sounded really good, something I'd like to read and hopefully put into practice! I feel like love is what matters most in this world and it can be tough to wrestle with how to do it well.

    Anyhow, happy reading and happy new year to you as well.

  18. Thanks for your thoughts.

    Ha, ha! I'm all about not applying blame, lol! 😉 I just have to get myself together and focus, focus, focus! Best of luck with your challenges for the year. I see that you're already off to a great start! 🙂

  19. Yes, so many books …… You're reading Meditations? How quickly are you moving through it? I started it as an audiobook in September but stopped as soon as I got out of the car, ha ha! I might pick it up, but again, I need to focus on City of God and then The Republic first. Moral support and courage and comradeship ….. yes! I will let you know when I get to Eco. Thanks for the wishes and hoping for the best reading year for us both!

  20. Happy memories are so important. And they'll always be with us!

    I'm so glad that you enjoyed The Name of the Rose. I really don't WANT to read it, but I feel that there is something in it that's valuable so I will. I'm glad to hear that you're doing some challenges …. I'll check them out. Have a great year reading, Amanda!

  21. Thanks so much for your kind words, Jade. They're very much appreciated. If you read The Art of Loving, please let me know what you think. Fromm explained many aspects of it so well (although in some place he lost me). Anything worthwhile is going to be hard and constant work. But if we stay present in the moment and avoid pitfalls we can at least improve in our ability to love. I also appreciated how he approached loving oneself; very interesting.

    Have a great 2018 and happy reading to you!

  22. well, that's when i read it and a lot of persons i knew at the time did too… i don't know if i felt like a hippy or not, but at no time have i been a card carrying member of "society"… i should have added "hands" on the end…

  23. Sorry to hear about your grandmother. Prayers for your comfort and peace.

    I just love your photos. I've posted a few of my time in Florida over New Year's. They're a little different even though it was freezing.

    Good luck with Moby Dick. I drowned in the middle years ago and have never picked it up though I want. I also have Meditations on my list. Interesting to compare reviews.
    Hope you and your family have a wonderful 2018!

  24. Your prayers are very much appreciated, Sharon! I'll have to take a look at your photos. I've been so pulled in all directions, I've neglected my blog friends ~ time to change that. I'm looking forward to both books …. it's interesting to see so many reading or planning to read Meditations. I wonder what drives coincidences like this …. luck? Vibes? Destiny? In any case, you and your family have an amazing 2018 too! Hugs!

  25. Journey to the Center of the Earth was a fun read. It wasn't what I expected. And I recently bought Titus Groan. I heard it's a fantasy classic. Since it's fantasy, I thought I could trick myself into reading a classic novel by reading it.

  26. Hey Zezee! Great to hear from you! I'm looking forward to Journey as I know it will be easy compared to the others. I do hope I like Titus Groan; if I don't, I'll be disappointed. Have a great reading year in 2018!

  27. Condolences on the loss of your Grandma.
    I was considering not doing any challenges this year, ha, ha. Can't help myself. I do like to have some time for a book on the whim but also the discipline of a reading goal. I'm doing the Deal me In challenge this year but I'm restricting it to 26 titles. I've always thought it would be a great way to get through speeches & essays & random poets I've neglected.

  28. That's strange ….. your comment went into spam ….. don't know why but I found it!!!

    Thanks for your condolences, Carol, I appreciate them.

    I'm glad to meet someone else who can't help themselves, ha, ha! 😉 I love the Deal Me In Challenge. I should shorten it, but I think the length of 52 choices keeps me on my toes and reading more than if I shortened it. I hope you get lots of reading accomplished this year!!

Thanks for visiting. I'd love to hear from you and have you join in the discussion!