Posted by: Sally Ingraham | February 21, 2010

Three Awesome Things

The WavesIt was quite warm yesterday, and the sun was beaming down on Mount Desert Island. I was inspired to go and read The Waves by Virginia Woolf within sight of some real waves, so I took myself down to Sand Beach with a blanket and a chair. There was a brisk wind, and even with the sun shining directly above I got chilled rather quickly. A sheltered spot among the rocks further down the coast was perfect though, and I sat soaking in sun, wrapped in my blanket for over an hour, reading. I am LOVING The Waves, and not just because of my surroundings yesterday! More about the book on Friday, as Woolf in Winter comes to a close.

Another AWESOME thing I did yesterday was ordering books for the first time in 2010. I needed the fourth volume of In Search of Lost Time by Marcel Proust, so I could start reading it in March in order to finish it by the end of April, when I will join Frances and Claire, among others, in discussing it.

I wanted my own copy of Ahead of All Parting: The Selected Poetry and Prose of Rainer Maria Rilke translated by Stephen Mitchell, since when I was reading it in January I felt overwhelmingly compelled to take a highlighter to my library copy of it!

And then I got somewhat overly excited and went ahead and ordered the first four books I need for the reading plot my dear blogging friends Claire, Frances, Emily, Richard and I have been hatching for the past few months!

What is this plot of which I speak? We’ve decided that reading and discussing books together is just way too much fun. From the hilarious disaster of the Kristin Lavransdatter group read, to the astonishingly rich experience that Woolf in Winter has been, we will now move on to shared reading experiences that will keep us busy until the end of the year.

All are welcome to join us! We will post on the last Friday of each month. We’re not exactly hosting group reads – that would involve finding a name and making buttons and other dreaded bits of organization…and we’re all trying to be less organized about our reading this year! We’re simply getting excited (hopefully!) about the same book at the same time. And those books are:

March: The Night of the Iguana by Tennessee Williams

April: Life A User’s Manual by Georges Perec

May: Tender Morsels by Margo Lanagan

June: Moo Pak by Gabriel Josipovici

July: A Personal Matter by Kenzaburo Oe

August: In the American Grain by William Carlos Williams

September: Santa Evita by Tómas Eloy Martínez

October: Old School by Tobias Wolff

November: Vilnius Poker by Ricardas Gavelis

December: Clandestine in Chile by Gabriel García Márquez

Join us for the conversation about one or all – we will post about The Night of the Iguana on March 26th.

The final somewhat difficult but still awesome thing I did yesterday was to weed out a whole box of books from my collection which I will be donating to my library. Into the box went all the books I have already read but didn’t adore or didn’t like at all (I’m shocked that I keep these for as long as I do!), as well as books that I liked but don’t plan on reading again and don’t find integral to my collection. It was actually more liberating than I had expected, and I feel confident that aside from the books that I haven’t read at all yet, my collection is trimmed down to the books that are really important to me. Until I have space to build a library, I can’t afford to cart around books like…gulp…Kristin Lavransdatter!! That was a tough one to let go of – it’s so pretty, and it’s tied to some great memories. I’m never going to read it again though (I hope, please God, I beg you!), so why keep it…? I feel like two sides of myself are playing tug-a-war with the book. Ridiculous. Into the box it goes!! 🙂



  1. The Kristin Lavransdatter omnibus version that most of us had was pretty, Sarah, but I was so glad to get rid of it for its NEGATIVE entertainment value that I felt like my house had been exorcised after that bad girl was gone! Ah, the memories…

    • Hahaha….! Exorcised indeed. You’re great. Now that I’ve made the decision I do feel immensely better! 🙂

  2. What a great spot to read The Waves! I’m about halfway done and so far, liking it very much. That’s a great list of upcoming group reads–I’ve read Santa Evita before and found it crazy disturbing. In a good way. 🙂

    • I can’t wait to discuss The Waves – there are so many angles that people could come at the book from. Should be exciting!

  3. Oh, Ithe coast looks wonderful. We are hoping to get to Maine to visit my Mom and brother this summer.

    That list of books looks very intriguing, I may have to join in on some of those shared reads, starting with Tennessee Williams!

    • It’ll be my first Tennessee Williams. It’ll be great to have you along – I always enjoy your thoughts. 🙂

  4. Cold or not, that looks like a great reading perch.

    And I had no trouble parting with Kristin Lavransdatter. Just some guilt pushing it off on someone else. 🙂

    Happy to see how linked our reading lives remain. Let’s raise our glasses to friends never met!

    • I’ll drink to that! Should be a very interesting ride.

      I feel a little guilty about fobbing Kristin off on someone else too, but (to my astonishment) there are people out there who really like, or will really like the book. And I wouldn’t want to deny someone the experience, whichever way it goes, of meeting Kristin! 🙂

  5. Haha about Kristin L! My three volumes are still on the shelf but daily I debate whether I must let go or not. Everything about it says let go but one thing: My other name is the same as Ms Lavransdatter herself and I sort of like the thought of a book having my name on it. On the other hand, a horrible book with one’s name on it.. ehrm. Decisions, decisions. Lol.

    Love, by the way, you reading The Waves by the waves. As opposed to me reading it amidst the chaos of three little boys.

    • Reading The Waves amidst the chaos of three little boys is an impressive feat!! When I first started it I needed complete quiet, but now that I’ve gotten into the swing of it I can leave some music on low. 🙂

  6. Reading The Waves by the waves sounds like a fantastic idea! We have the perfect weather for that over here at the moment too – 36 degrees C today!! I need to also do some major clearing of my bookshelves but I need to find some energy for that first! Your read along sounds fantastic – I have to admit to not really knowing about any of the books on the list but I will certainly check them out.

    • Ooo, you actually have warm weather for it! I highly recommend the experience. And I do hope you join us in reading any or all of those books! Except for the one’s I picked, I’ve never heard of most of them as well – which is why I love reading with this group of people! 🙂

  7. I’m a late responder, but yay! to the upcoming reading list and yay! to the difficult but cleansing experience of jettisoning the books holding you down. Kristin & a few others are slated for my annual buy-sell-trade trip to Powell’s for my birthday in May.

    Glad you’re loving The Waves – it’s not my favorite favorite Woolf, but obviously I still like it pretty darn well. 🙂

    • I’m actually going to see if the BuyBack deal at AbeBooks works as smoothly as it appears to. I gave that box I mentioned to my library, but I’m sending 5 books away to AbeBooks tomorrow – including Kristin. It’s not like I really want my money back…but it seemed like a more fitting option for that one!

  8. Oh new readalongs, hurray. I’m not sure what I’ll join you in, but definately something after that lovely experience of reading ‘To the Lighthouse’ with a group. Good work getting rid of some books, best not to hoard in case one day they all topple on to you 🙂

    • I know, right? I had piles on top of piles, and I move around a lot too. Book boxes get heavy!!

  9. A Personal Matter in July will fall right in line with the Japanese Literature Challenge 4 so I’ll be sure to join you all on that novel for sure! It looks like you’ve been hatching exciting things!

  10. p.s. It’s wonderful that you’ll have time, I hope, to join in The Brothers Karamazov. (You’re so right about leaving out the ‘organizational bits’ and having the fun of reading together instead of alone.) Although, if you feel overcommitted I’d surely understand!

    • It’ll be great to have you join us for A Personal Matter! I’ve really enjoyed your blog since finding it through ‘K-Lav’. I definitely want to read The Brothers Karamazov with you. We’ll see how crazy my work schedule is by then, although my typical summers of more work less reading shouldn’t have really gotten underway at that point!

  11. […] like to participate) cohosted by Claire of Kiss a Cloud, Emily of Evening All Afternoon, Sarah of What We Have Here is a Failure to Communicate, Frances of Nonsuch Book, and Richard of Caravana de […]

  12. […] late-to-the-party posting, I’m embracing the ‘non-structured’ aspect of this group read! I actually didn’t feel that I could write about the book until I had also seen John […]

  13. […] no books longer than 150 pages. Seriously. Except for Tender Morsels by Margo Lanagan, our next non-structured group read, which is 464 (gasp! thought it was shorter…!) pages. Anyone care to suggest really excellent […]

  14. […] Reading Group’). At Richard’s prompting he, Emily, Frances, Claire, and I all picked a couple of books to read together after Woolf in Winter ended. This lead to one of the most rewarding reading experiences I have ever […]

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