"Love follows knowledge."
"Beauty above all beauty!"
– St. Catherine of Siena

Saturday, July 5, 2014

2014 Reads, Update #2

Here we are at the mid year and I have to say I’m impressed with my reading.  You can read my reading plans for 2014 here   and the first quarter update here.  This quarter I read three books of non-fiction, Happy Catholic and The Imitation of Christ, both devotionals for Lent and Reading Dante: From Here to Eternity, a work of literary criticism.  Actually I would say Reading Dante by Prue Shaw is more of a primer for those who haven’t read Dante than a work of literary criticism, though it’s a sort of blend.  I should give you a book review of it, especially since it got such rave reviews when it came out this year.  I bought it and altered my reading plans on the strength of some of those reviews.  Quick review here: It’s ok, two and a half stars out of five if you wish. Those reviews (like a lot of reviews) are over inflated.   

I’ve read two novels this past quarter.  Actually one novel and a volume of a tome-length novel that is about as long as most novels.  The tome length novel is Hugo’s Les Misérables, and I read the first volume, “Fantine.”  In order to not commit a whole year to Les Misérables I’m just going to read one volume at a time; each volume amounts to about a novel’s length.  The other novel I read was also part of a longer work, Some Do Not…, which is the first novel in the tetralogy, Parades End by Ford Madox Ford.  Again I’m breaking up the series so I don’t commit an extended amount of time to one work.  I don’t know if you’re like me, but I sometimes get bored reading one author for an extended period of time.  When I worked on my Master’s Thesis, I think I spent something like two years on almost exclusively D. H. Lawrence, either by him or on his work, and to this day because of that saturation I have a hard time picking up a Lawrence work, even though if there’s any author I’m capable of explaining, it’s him. 

Between the non-fiction and the novels, I completed five books, plus I’m beyond half way on Stephen King’s The Shining.  That’s better than the one per month I aim for.  However, that did pinch into my time for short stories. I aim for two per month, but I only read four.  I provided analysis of Cather’s “Paul’s Case” and I intend to do the same for Paul Horgan’s magnificent story, “The Peachstone.”  If you can find the story (unfortunately it’s not on the internet) read it, it’s worth it, and then you can also comment on my analysis and criticize me! 

To round out my reads for the quarter, I read two more books from the Old Testament, The Book of Esther and First Book of Maccabees.  Both were easy reads as far as Old Testament works go.   

I’m still making my way through Hopkins poetry—definitely enjoying it—and pecking away at Goldsworthy’s biography of Julius Caesar.  I did start my annual read on writing—every year I read one book on the craft of writing— Richard A. Lanham’s very unconventional, Style: an Anti-Textbook.  And I’m more than half way through Brian Doyle’s, The Thorny Grace of It: And Other Essays for Imperfect Catholics.  Brian Dolye’s book is a collection of his personal essays on Catholic life, faith, and culture, and it’s really enjoyable.  I posted one of his essays here.   

I have made a couple of changes to my plans for this year, as you’ll see in my Upcoming Plans list below.  I was trading some emails with a friend from Germany, Barbara, (we had once both been active at Literature Network, a literature internet forum) where I realized my reading of German literature was paltry.  I have never read anything by Johan Wolfgang von Goethe, who is the equivalent of Shakespeare in Germany.  So I added his novel, The Sorrows of Young Werther, which is something I’ve wanted to read for a long time.  In addition, another fellow Literature Network member came across my blog and she linked me up to her literature blog, Frigate to Utopia, where she calls herself Lit-Lass.  She happens to be quite knowledgeable, and of course a fan, of Jane Austen, and in our discussion she recommended I read Mansfield Park, since this year will be the 200th anniversary of its publication.  I was easily persuaded, having no will power when it comes to reading.  Well after counting up the months and the planned reads I realized something had to give.  I’m saddened to say, I will have to put off Dostoyevsky’s Crime and Punishment once again.  So after I finish King’s The Shining, I plan to spend the rest of the summer with Dante’s Paradiso, and the fall will be devoted to The Sorrows of Young Werther and Mansfield Park, though I’m undecided which to read first. 

As to short stories, I’ve got another Hemingway and another Kipling in cue, but then I wish to read a few from Vladimir Nabakov and Saki, and then we’ll see.  I’ll have to press on with the Old Testament and read the Second Book of Maccabees.  Oh, and I did promise I would re-read Shakespeare’s The Tempest.  Where will I find the time?
Oh, and to make matters worse, we're having our kitchen, living, and dining rooms remodeled, starting Monday.  All three at the same time!  I thought it best to just get it all done at once.  Things are packed in boxes and the boxes are in our bedrooms.  The house is in turmoil.  They estimate it will take at least a month to be completed.  So I'm not sure how this will effect my reading and blogging schedule.  But all one can do is persevere.

Read in Previous Quarter: 

“The Doom of the Griffiths,” a short story by Elizabeth Gaskell.
The Book of Tobit, a book of the Old Testament.
“Rappaccini’s Daughter,” a short story by Nathaniel Hawthorne.
Life on the Mississippi, a memoir by Mark Twain.
The Book of Judith, a book of the Old Testament.
“The Ransom of Red Chief,” a short story by O. Henry.
Washington Square, a novel by Henry James.
84, Charing Cross Road, a collection of correspondence by Helene Hanff.
“Fifty Grand,” a short story by Ernest Hemingway.
“A Simple Enquiry,” a short story by Ernest Hemingway.
“The Pitcher,” a short story by Andre Debus.
“After Twenty Years,” a short story by O. Henry.

Read This Past Quarter: 

Happy Catholic, a non-fiction devotional by Julie Davis.
The Imitation of Christ, a non-fiction devotional by Thomas à Kempis.
“Paul’s Case,” a short story by Willa Cather.
Reading Dante: From Here to Eternity, a non-fiction work of literary criticism by Prue Shaw.
The Book of Esther, a book of the Old Testament.
“Wee Willie Winkie,” a short story by Rudyard Kipling.
Fantine, the 1st Volume of Les Misérables, a novel by Victor Hugo.
“The Peach Stone,” a short story by Paul Horgan.
Some Do Not…, the 1st novel of the Parade’s End Tetralogy by Ford Madox Ford.
First Book of Maccabees, a book of the Old Testament.
“Ten Indians, a short story by Ernest Hemingway.

Currently Reading: 

Gerard Manly Hopkins: Poems and Prose, Selected and Edited by W. H. Gardner.
Julius Caesar: Life of a Colossus, by Adrian Goldsworthy.
Style: an Anti-Textbook, a non-fiction book on writing by Richard A. Lanham.
The Thorny Grace of It: And Other Essays for Imperfect Catholics, a collection of personal essays by Brian Doyle.
The Shining, a novel by Stephan King.
“The Drums of the Fore and Aft,” a short story by Rudyard Kipling.

Upcoming Plans: 

“A Canary For One,” a short story by Ernest Hemingway.
"Sredni Vashtar,” a short story by Saki (H.H. Munro).
“The Wood-Sprite,” a short story by Vladimir Nabokov.
“Russian Spoken Here,” a short story by Vladimir Nabokov.
Second Book of Maccabees, a book of the Old Testament.
Paradisio, the 3rd Cantica of Dante Alighieri’s The Divine Comedy.
Mansfield Park, a novel by Jane Austen.
The Sorrows of Young Werther, a novel by Johan Wolfgang von Goethe.


  1. That's a lot of reading Manny. I'm very impressed.

    I remember reading Victor Hugo at school; and also Albert Camus "La Peste". Have you read it? And Moliere or Racine? I remember we even had to read a play by Goldoni, although I can't remember which. Oh the memories of studying literature. Chaucer was my favourite though.

    God bless.

    1. Thank you Victor. I'm thinking of doing a few of Chaucer's Tales every year startting next year. Would you enjoy that?

    2. Yes definetely. You know, I read all the tales in the original language. For our exams we studied The prologue and The Pardoner's tale.

      You have been given an Award on my Blog.

      God bless.

  2. Don't forget my Flannery O'Connor! :)

    1. You read my mind. After I had posted this I remembered I had O'Connor's "Greenleaf" also in cue. I was wondering if you would catch that...lol.

  3. I've read much on your list and liked most of it. I did hate THE SORROWS OF YOUNG WERTHER, though. LOL It's such a sappy, sentimental book. Hard to believe it was written by such a towering genius.

    The author I once overdosed on is Thomas Hardy. That can get depressing. As a theology student, studying for my Master's, I don't have much time for fiction. I'm immersed in things like Church history and the historical Jesus. Fascinating reading, though.

    Happy reading!

    1. Oh you should have left your name inside the comment box. Now I don't know who you are. Yes, Hardy can be very depressing. I've got mixed feelings on Hardy.

      A few years ago I did spend some time and effort on the historical Jesus, and to be honest I'm not sure I got too much out of it. A lot of it is speculation by piecing together the time and the verifiable/semi-verifiable facts. But it does give context to the Gospel passages. It certainly corroborates the Gospel. I would love to spend time on the Church Fathers. That would require a fair amount of reading time to it, but one day I will do it.

      Stop back and leave your name!