2020 Reading Challenge Overview

33 thoughts on “2020 Reading Challenge Overview”

  1. Sure does! In fact, this was a good reminder to myself that I have never actually read Beowulf and really should so thanks!

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    1. I’m not sure Beowulf counts as from another culture for me, because I’m a white American with English ancestors. Still … 1100 years is a long time from when it was written to now, and no one read Beowulf round the fire when I was a child, so I’m going to read it now.

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      1. I started reading Mythos and realized, wait! I have some Greek ancestors! I was not raised with any Greek culture though so I sort of shrugged it off then. I probably know just as much or more about Norse mythology and I don’t have a spec of Nordic blood in me lol. I’m viewing it as ‘something I wasn’t raised learning about’ so it counts!

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      1. Haha not reading in old English. It’s the Seamus Heaney translation that I’ve had since it came out twenty years ago. I dipped into it then but never read it through.

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      1. I’m glad I read it at last. The introduction was useful and interesting for some historical background. The translator respected the original epic and the 10th century scribe by treating the material as a recital of factual events plainly told rather than as a once-upon-a-time tale. The introduction also prepared me for what would have otherwise seemed like jarring insertions of Christian morality into a pagan epic. I wondered about that 10th century scribe—he was a Christian but maybe close enough to his pagan forebears to take the Beowulf story literally. Maybe that’s why it’s possible to see Beowulf as a real person instead of a cartoonish superhero. I saw his bravado as a young, impetuous and ambitious knight in the Grendel/mother portions, and his wise and wary and even fearful reflections as he prepared to face the dragon and death at the end. Meta impressions—no battle victory is permanent, and best let sleeping dragons lie.

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  2. Pam, that was a fantastic summary and compelling argument for me to pick up a copy (of that translation specifically) to add to my TBR pile! I think there is so much value and much to be learned from folklore and fairytales of various cultures that really encompasses humanity and history while remaining timeless.

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  3. I was originally listed as CalamiTEA, but unfortunately someone tried to hack my email and I am locked out, so I needed to open a new blog as well. Circe was my January pick!

    I just read Circe! I couldn’t put down the book. I posted the full review on my blog.

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    1. I thought it was a fantastic re-telling too! I love how Miller made her so human in her faults and really highlighted the process of change and transformation to someone that because powerful not only in her craft, but in her heart and soul. I would love to see your review, feel free to post it here!

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  4. I’m going to read Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston for February. A personal part of my 2020 challenge is to read books that I have at home that I haven’t read before. The paperback copy of this Hurston book is one my son bought for a college class and left behind when he moved away. My husband has some collectible editions of Hurston but I don’t want to mess with those.

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    1. THAT would be a challenge for me…. no matter how many I read, my pile keeps getting bigger and bigger and I can’t seem to leave the store with anything less than 3 at a time! I have heard amazing things about that book and have had my eye on Hitting a Straight Lick with a Crooked Stick.

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  5. I just read and posted my February book! This month I chose Throwaway Daughter by Ting-Xing Ye. I actually am starting a book review podcast with a couple friends and this is the first book we chose. I loved how we got to know so many people in one family.

    Calamiteaandbookreviews.wordpress.com

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    1. Thanks for putting this book on my radar! It looks like something I would love! A book review podcast sounds like a great idea, good luck with it and I will be sure to check it out!

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  6. I finished reading Their Eyes Were Watching God a couple of days ago. Wow! A riveting story as well as an immersion into a place and time and culture I knew something about but didn’t “know” in the heart and skin sense. It’s a story of a black woman’s experience in the Jim Crow south but most of the drama and comedy of the story are not (at least to my perception as a white reader) about race. For much of the story the whites are offstage. The black characters seem aware of the whites’ power and menace, and unsurprised when that power is inflicted, and otherwise go about their lives as best they can.

    The part of the story that resonated with me was Janie’s experiences from girlhood to middle age with boys and men—the attraction, the joy, the fear, the compromises, the self-protective strategies that women experience living with men.

    We’ve had several of Hurston’s books at our house for many years but I’d never picked one up until this reading challenge, so thanks for the motivation.

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    1. I’m so glad you were motivated through the challenge! I have noticed only in the last few years how much I have missed out being isolated or privileged, unaware of some of the deeper dynamics going on around me. It is exactly one of the reasons that I wanted to have a diverse reading challenge.

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  7. My March read will be Andrew Solomon’s Far From the Tree, which is about children who are different from their parents in various ways, including autism. I saw the documentary based on this book a couple of years ago. Since part of the challenge is to read books I already have (or that are in my house in my husband’s or son’s collections), this is what I’m going with. This book is almost 700 pp so I might not finish!

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    1. I am curious about what approach the book will be taking? Is it from a nature vs nurture deep-dive or how families coped with these differences from a relationship/dynamic standpoint?

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      1. I’ve only started the first section of the book. Solomon has tons of research as well as stories of families.

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