Musings on children's and YA literature, the academy, and the relationship between them, from an English professor and mother.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

packing it in

I think I chose my time badly for the Reading Challenge, but I'm satisfied with my achievement anyway. I have to end before 11 today so I can get to church, so I'm calling it closed now. My totals? 8 books, 2094 pages, 15 hours out of the 48. The last few books were a real mixed bag. I started yesterday afternoon with Mildred Taylor's Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry, because I'd heard a talk about it last March and couldn't remember reading it. Well, turns out I had: I remembered Cassie, the narrator, Mama and Big Ma, T.J.--I remembered the plot, even, once I got moving in it. Still, it was worth the re-read; another way of working through some history that doesn't often get told. (And, of course, it turns out that the one I haven't read is The Land, which I still haven't read. Ah, well.)

We had a party to go to last night and I had some cooking to do before that, as well as just some general down-time, but after the party I picked up Farthing, by Jo Walton. I had remembered that Jenny Davidson recommended it, though I didn't remember why. What a fabulous book! It starts out like a terrific country-house mystery (and remains that) but at the same time it's an alternate history: what if Britain had negotiated a peace with Hitler in 1941? Turns out Walton doesn't think that would have been a good idea. Lovely, lovely writing and a plot that was just twisty enough without being (as Fforde's quite deliberately are) too convoluted.

This weekend's reading reminded me of how much I used to love reading mystery novels, which I've almost completely given up. Maybe it's time to rethink that.

Anyway, this morning I figured I had time for one more, and I managed a quick read through Chicks with Sticks: Knit Two Together, by Elizabeth Lenhard. Turns out this is actually the second in a series (looks like there are at least three), but I actually picked it up by accident, thinking it was a teen knitting book. Rather, it's a teen knitting novel, chick-lit with IMing and knit-night. I'm not sure the knitting actually adds much to the story--I kept second-guessing it, actually, wondering if the descriptions were really that accurate. What the knitting mainly adds is another way to name-drop labels, so along with the Balenciaga bag (really? do teenagers really carry Balenciaga bags?) there's also ArtYarns and Lorna's Laces. Fine.

So that's it. I'm done. And here's what I discovered: I think I make reading enough of a priority most of the time that the contest didn't really add that much. I've never actually counted pages or hours before, and I certainly read later last night than I would have if I weren't trying to finish Farthing so I could blog about it, but otherwise the only thing I did that I might not have otherwise was finish Chicks with Sticks when I could have been reading the Sunday New York Times. That, however, will have to wait until after church. I'm done for now.


  1. I am impressed. You did twice as much as me in about the same time. I have those Mildred Taylor books on my shelf and I hope I get to them this summer. I don't remember if I've read them before or not. I think I'll enjoy them in any case.

  2. Very glad you liked Farthing so much! It's great, isn't it? The sequel is out soon too, and she's writing a third in the series--I too seem to read considerably fewer crime novels than I once did, but I love the series aspect to that world of reading...