Reading for Me

The Books I Have Read…..Just for Me

The View From My Reading Chair – Jan 4, 2020

Happy New Year! I hope that each of you have gotten your personal reading journey off to a good start with the beginning of 2020. As promised in my New Year’s Day post, I will offer brief weekly updates on Saturdays throughout the year as an accountability on my own reading in addition to the regular posted reviews.

I’m working my way through 3 books right now.

1) At the Wolf’s Table (Rosella Postorino). This novel is the latest installment in My Library Shelf project. For any new readers, I was challenged to read my way through a shelf of my local library that was chosen at random (with a few stipulations, of course). The shelf had to include at least one classic novel, a minimum of 10 unique authors, and no author could be represented more than 7 times. Unger Memorial Library in Plainview has a limited selection, so I had to bend the rules a tiny bit….one author (Terry Pratchett) has 12 books on my current shelf. Still, I’ll be exploring works by 13 authors in the process.

At the Wolf’s Table is the story of a group of women who find themselves commanded to serve as food tasters for Hitler in Nazi Germany. The women eat the glorious food prepared for the dictator and are then observed for an hour to see if they are the victims of poisoning. If they show no ill effects, the meal is taken to Hitler’s lair. I have about 100 pages remaining in the novel and will share my thoughts in an upcoming post this week.

2) Johannes Brahms: A Biography (Jan Swafford). Is it really surprising that I would begin the year with a biography of one of my favorite composers of the 19th century? I actually started reading this work several years ago when I discovered that my copy was defective and was missing over 150 pages! I finally got around to replacing the book earlier in the Fall semester and just began to re-read it while in Arkansas for Christmas break.

The Brahms biography will be one of my biggest reads for a little while – clocking in at just over 600 pages. I’m reading rather slowly and making notes along the way, so this one will probably remain a fixture in my weekly updates for a while. I’ve made my way through the first 75 pages of this fascinating examination of the composer’s life and work.

3) Karamo: My Story of Embracing Purpose, Healing and Hope (Karamo Brown). Audio books have long been part of my reading routine. I especially enjoy “reading” memoirs in this format when the author reads his own words. I first encountered Karamo as a cast member of MTV’s The Real World. Now better known as a member of The Fab Five of Queer Eye, his story is one of struggle, addiction, and triumph. I’ve got about 2 hours of listening left and should have it done early on my drive back to Texas on Monday.

So….I anticipate two reviews coming up in the days ahead that will give a little more detail about the books and my responses to them. Until then, continue to enjoy your own reading journey.


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The Weekly View From My Reading Chair (Dec. 29, 2018)

As the year quickly comes to a close, I’ve been doing a lot of reflection and admitting to myself the things that I have not been happy about in 2018 as well as celebrating my successes. One of the year’s goals that I did not meet was my plan to read more books and post reviews here. While that failure is not an earth-shattering one, it is still something that I am not terribly happy about.

Don’t get me wrong — I did get some reading done this year….just not as much as I would have liked. There were certainly reasons that legitimately impacted my time spent in my reading chair. I experienced lots of illness this year. There were lots of performances on stage that demanded I devote my time to practicing piano. In spite of it all, I somehow managed to complete 17 books; however, my goal was 32 books.

I didn’t blog here — or on any of my other sites either — because I was burned out. I was also embarrassed because I didn’t have anything to report to my imaginary audience. (Does anyone really read these posts anyway?) That’s when I realized that I had to change my approach to this blog….and so, you have the first “Reading Chair” installment.

Here’s my plan. Each week, I want to give you an update on how I’m progressing with my reading. I want to let you know what I’m working through and how it’s going. If I’m struggling, is it because of the material or my life? What have I enjoyed about the journey so far? I want my posts in 2019 to be a diary of my reading life. If there is an audience for my little blog, I hope that someone will give me a nudge when a Saturday comes along without a post…..or just give me an occasional comment to let me know that someone other than me is actually looking at what I’m writing.

I’m at my parents’ home in Arkansas at the moment, so quality reading time is tough to come by at the moment, but I have tried to spend some time in the reading chair here — my Mom’s large overstuffed recliner in the study room in the rear of the house. Here’s a look at the two books that I’m working my way through at the moment.

Fryderyk Chopin: A Life and Times by Alan Walker. I have been aware of Walker’s work since my undergraduate days when my piano teacher introduced me to the first volume of his massive biography on the composer Franz Liszt. When this Chopin biography hit the stands, I knew that I would have to read it. I expected a dry, highly academic read. Thankfully, the work has proven to be anything but that! Walker’s prose is splendidly written and simply pulls you into Chopin’s life and world. I am intentionally taking my time through the book with a pencil in my hand, marking interesting passages and making notes in the margins. I anticipate this biography will be in my reading chair for several more weeks, but I have thoroughly enjoyed my exploration of the composer’s early life so far. Current status: 153/671.

A Clash of Kings by George R. R. Martin. I dove into the Game of Thrones series earlier this year while visiting my parents for summer vacation. I’m not typically a fan of fantasy, but I wanted to see what all of the hype was about. I was really surprised to see that I really enjoyed the book. My expectations for Clash of Kings – the second book in the series — were high. That’s why I’m a bit upset that I am struggling with this current read so much. Maybe it’s because I was enjoying my time in the Chopin biography so much, but it just seems as though it is taking FOREVER for this book to grab my attention. I have a personal philosophy that life is too short and there are too many great books waiting to be read, so if a book doesn’t grab my interest by page 75 or 100, I’m out! Since I had such a great experience with the first book, I’m giving Martin a little more time. Things began to pick up as I was reading last night, so I’m hoping that the tide is turning and the reading will get more engrossing in the coming hours! Current status: 154/728.

There you have it! Until next Saturday, here’s hoping you find lots of joy as you spend time in your own reading chair this week.

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