Posted by: Mish | June 18, 2010

Sailing Through Summer

My reading plans change as frequently as the winds on Lake Champlain so I read whatever suits my mood or craving. I usually have an idea of what I would like to read sooner. Creating a large pool to draw from and keeping me organized are the Dread Pile o’Reads, sci-fi/fantasy, banned books, and 1001 “must read” book lists.

One year 98% of my reading was of the sci-fi/fantasy realms. I was definitely in the mood, but I prefer my reading to be more well-rounded. I’ve since discovered that reading challenges are useful for that while pointing me to books I keep meaning to read. They’re also good sources of reading suggestions, discussions, broadening horizons, and fun. Some of this summer’s reading will go for the Books of the Century and GLBT challenges. I will also be finishing 100 Shots of Short and re-launching the Sci-Fi Challenge in early August.

I began participating in a reading group among friends shortly before it fizzled out due to conflicting schedules. It was a bummer, but I also have a hard enough time getting through my own pile. Thanks to Sarah, I recently began participating in my first bloggers’ read-along and will be again. Now I’m finally getting around to Moby Dick (150 pages to go!) and Don Quixote, hosted by Infinite Zombies and Winstonsdad. I’m debating participating in the Ulysses read-along hosted by Infinite Zombies. It’s been on my list, but I think reading it while battling windmills may be madness, even if I am using the abridged edition I already own instead of Edith Grossman’s 922 page translation. Or maybe that will allow me to do both, we’ll see. Don Quixote‘s begins July 19th, its first discussion is on the 26th. The outline for Ulysses is:

July 12: Episodes 1-3 (~40 pages)
July 19: Eps 4-6 (~50 pages)
July 26: Eps. 7-9 (~80 pages)
August 2: Eps. 10-12 (~ 100 pages)
August 9: Eps. 13 & 14 (~65 pages; ep. 14 is where a lot of people give up)
August 16: Ep. 15 (~150 pages, it’s a play so fewer words)
August 23: Eps 16 & 17 (~100 pages)
August 30: Ep. 18 (~35 pages of unpunctuated monologue)

With those navigational points in mind, I’ll be sailing through summer with:

Summer Reading

Oscar Wilde- An Ideal Husband
Oscar Wilde- The Importance of Being Ernest
Gertrude Stein- Tender Buttons
Miguel de Cervantes- Don Quixote
Robert Silverburg- Lord Valentine’s Castle
George R.R. Martin- Wild Cards #1 (anthology)
David Hartwell- Year’s Best Fantasy 3 (anthology)
Ursula Le Guin- the Language of the Night (essays on sci-fi/fantasy)

I read Le Guin’s essays from time to time, but would like to make more head way. I’ve only read two shorts from Best Fantasy so far thanks to Moby Dick.

Catherynne Valente's Books

I got distracted while reading the Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland In A Ship Of Her Own Making by Catherynne Valente so I am going to start over and finish reading it online for free, which is the only way it’s available thus far. I will most likely break my new books ban and finally acquire the Orphan’s Tales books. I may re-read Palimpsest simply because I haven’t visited its citizens since last February.

So with 11 books, 2 per-maybe-haps, and possible additions or changes of course, I’ll be circumnavigating the genres, books I own, and my reading list this summer. This mapping was inspired in part due to Carl’s post, which made a good sounding board.

What are your reading plans for the summer? Are you participating in any reading challenges or read-alongs? If you read any of the books or authors mentioned, what did you think?



  1. I liked reading about your navigational points, and I agree with you that challenges can help point you toward books you might not have noticed or thought to read.

    I tried reading Don Quixote years ago, don’t remember where I stopped. This book is one of those books that sits on my shelf and every now and then I look at and wonder when I will read it to complete because I will…one day. Now that I see that there is a read-along starting in July, I am seriously wondering if now is the time to read the book. Sigh…only so much time this summer, so not certain if I will attempt the book.

    I really need to read a book by Ursula Le Guin. I keep seeing her name, reading reviews about her books, and each time I find myself drawn towards her work. I really need to remember to put one of her books on my list of to-reads this fall.

    I read your review of Palimpsest. It sounds interesting, you grabbed my attention well enough that this book is now another one that I want to read.

  2. Thanks. The read-along may help you get through Don Quixote. But would that throw a wrench in Jordan and Martin? I’m kind of glad I’m reading an abridged edition, gives me more time for other books. I haven’t read Jordan. If I do it won’t be until I’ve finished some other series.

    Le Guin is awesome. For sci-fi I recommend the Lathe of Heaven or the Left Hand of Darkness- depending on taste. Both are brilliant and favourites. Or for YA fantasy, the Earthsea series. I usually caution people against reading her short stories as introductions to her writing and/or sci-fi. They’re good, just harder to get through than her novels.

    Nice, then I can hear about yours and Carl’s (unbiased) thoughts about Palimpsest. I’m always happy to add to reading piles. 🙂

  3. Yes, I was thinking that a read-along would help me get through Don Quixote, but throwing a wrench into my Jordan reading is a possibilty so that is why I hesisitate to join in on the read-along. I am not concerned with Martin’s book, I will be reading the last book, and it is an easier read for me.

    Thanks for the Le Guin book recommendations. Now, I have two sci-fi books to read for your challenge. 🙂 I just read a review of Earthsea and was intrigued. I didn’t realize it was YA Fantasy, that is good to know. I do like fantasy YA or adult.

    Palimpsest will be a book for the fall, for sure.

  4. Earthsea is a fun series, one I’d like to re-read. I only read the first four of the six books.

    It’ll be nice to have you for the challenge.

  5. I like hosting, and participating in, reading challenges for reasons similar to the ones you mention. It is a great way to get suggestions for books to read, is fun to bring people together to talk about books with some connection in common, even if it is a thin connection, and also inspires me to read things that I may have been putting off or not thought about reading in the first place. It is never about trying to read X number of books. It is just about the pleasure of reading and talking about reading.

    I got Palimpsest from the library last week and look forward to reading it. Picked up Light Boxes, one of the books on my list, from Borders today thanks to them tempting me with a 40% off coupon.

    You cannot go wrong with Oscar Wilde, he is so much fun.

    I had never wanted to read Moby Dick before reading Jeff Smith’s graphic novel, Bone, and now I’m really interested in reading it. The main character LOVES Moby Dick and there are a lot of Moby Dick related jokes/jabs in the story.

    I hope summer finds you accomplishing your reading goas.

  6. I’ve read a couple of Don Quixote stories in school, but never really felt much inclined to read the whole text – might have been the school factor, and the fact that I had the world’s worst English Lit teacher?

    I loved Picture of Dorian Gray, but haven’t read anything else by Wilde. Will be looking out for your thoughts on An Ideal Husband and The Importance of Being Earnest – I quite want to read the latter!

    Enjoy the summer sailing!

  7. Crumbles: Thanks. Those factors do tend to put a damper on things. I’m reading an abridged edition so still won’t be reading all of it.

    Dorian Gray was fantastic! Lady Windermere’s Fan was good, humorous. Ernest has been on my list for awhile. Wilde would be a fun mental break after Melville.

    Carl: Thanks, and may you read as much as you want this summer too. Excellent about Palimpsest. I had to look up Light Boxes. It sounds interesting in the not sure what to make of it way and the reviews seemed pretty split. It’ll be good way to hear what you think.

    I read a book awhile ago that talked a lot about the end of the whaling industry and its impact in Alaska. It fascinated me enough to read about whaling’s peak and Moby Dick. I don’t know how a friend reads it annually. Overall, I’m liking it. It’s…unique. There’s quite a bit one can jab about, like monomania or Melville coming off as a nut.

  8. If it wasn’t such a long book I probably would have went and read it already. As it is I just need to screw up my courage and add it to the tbr pile.

  9. It has an intimidating reputation. It’s not nearly as bad as I anticipated. The majority of chapters are short, some only a page long, which helps.

  10. I’m glad to hear that. It is that kind of thing that does make reading a chunkster seem to go faster, at least for me. I’m sure it is all psychological, but I don’t care, I like that style of writing.

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