Sunday, January 05, 2020

***blows off the dust***

Oh, dear. I'd forgotten all about my attempt to return to blogging last January. Let's hope I'm more successful this time!

Reading plans for the year, I have a few. I completed my 60 by 60 challenge last week. Yeah, I'd wanted to complete that five-year challenge by my 60th back in October, but I procrastinate and I get distracted. I'll continue drawing from the list for suggestions over the next five years instead of coming up with an entirely different pool of books and authors because my real challenge will be to read all 11 volumes of Will and Ariel Durant's The Story of Civilization before I retire. I read the introductory chapters in the introduction on "the nature and foundations of civilization" in December and am ready to devote the next nine weeks or so to the Near East.

I would like to read more non-fiction, particularly history, and more science fiction over the next year. I need to branch out beyond the time travel/parallel universe and the post-apocalyptic fare that I reach for when I do read sf.

Late last January I decided to embark on another long-term reading project, one I'm calling the Decades Reading Challenge. My intention was to read ten previously unread classics published within a particular decade within a calendar year and I started with the 1850s since that would give me a century of books to draw from before my birth at the tail-end of 1959. I was on track until I hit Little Dorrit over the summer, and my dithering on whether to force myself to finish the book or to move on to another brought me to a standstill where the 1850s were concerned. (I do not understand my difficulties with Dickens.) I'm now sporadically reading Trollope's The Three Clerks, published in 1858, but I only finished eight books from the 1850s last year. Henceforth I will consider the Decades Challenge a success if I finish a mere seven books and I will also allow myself a couple of rereads.

I've completed two books since January 1: Hope Jahren's Lab Girl (now anxiously awaiting the release of The Story of More in March) and Elizabeth Gaskell's Lois the Witch, an 1861 novella about the Salem witch trials. I am totally absorbed in Lucy Ellmann's Ducks, Newburyport and I'm a few pages into Dominic Brownlow's The Naseby Horses. I've also just started Katherine Mansfield's Selected Stories. I have a slew of books on hand that I'm champing on the bit to start, but I can save those for another post.

Coronavirus Chronicles, Entry 1

I've spent a bit of time today trying to piece together when we began to take Covid-19 seriously. L. ordered elderberries to make into ...