Dreams & Goals for 2017

Every year is another chance to look back, figure out what went well and what didn’t, and think of ways to make the next year even better.  I call my list “dreams and goals,” instead of “resolutions.”  What I’ve discovered, especially this past year, is that you don’t know what unexpected opportunities may pop up or how you will change as a person.  It’s good to dream and plan, and it’s also healthy to let yourself be flexible and spontaneous.

A few dreams / goals I met in 2016:

  • Read 25 books.  Some of them were short, and one or two of them were quite long (I’m looking at you, Mack).  It felt great to make a dent in that TBR list!
  • Take photos.  I started learning about photography in earnest.  Will continue this one in 2017.
  • Love my neighbors.  That is, I tried to love the people with whom I interacted in “real life” and online.  As we all have experienced, it’s been a contentious year.  More than ever I realized the struggle – and necessity – of being understanding and respectful of others, even if I felt hurt by their words or attitudes.  This is an ongoing goal.

“You never really know a man until you stand in his shoes and walk around in them.”

Some of my dreams and goals for 2017: 

  • Read 15 books.  I’ll be setting my Goodreads challenge a bit lower this time, which hopefully will allow me to squeeze in some longer books.
  • Learn to read in French.  My dad has a textbook called French for Reading.  Starting January 1, my goal is to complete a lesson a day and ultimately be able to read at least children’s literature by the end of the year.
  • Don’t buy new things.  Especially books, right?  😉
  • Keep a consistent schedule.  Lately I’ve recognized a need to significantly reduce the level of stress in my life.  If I can identify a schedule that will balance my full-time work and my personal life (i.e. reading!), it will help remove some of that unnecessary stress.

I have so enjoyed getting back into blogging and reading all of you guys’ blogs.  Here’s to many more bookish adventures in 2017!

The Chronological Sherlock Holmes Challenge: Full schedule

In the interests of planning ahead, I thought it might be a good idea to go ahead and post the full schedule for the challenge.  Let me know if you see any typos.

    • There will be weekly check-in posts for each short story, and one post for each 3-week novel.
    • All book formats are welcome (audiobooks, ebooks, translations, etc.)
    • Feel free to drop in at any time!  No blog posts required.  🙂

    Click on any story to go to the check-in post for that week.

    Week 1  (Jan 1-7):  “The Gloria Scott”
    Week 2:  “The Musgrave Ritual”
    Week 3:  A Study in Scarlet
    Week 4:  A Study in Scarlet
    Week 5 (Jan 29-Feb 4):  A Study in Scarlet.  (Finish by February 4th.)

    Week 6 (Feb 5-11):  “The Speckled Band”
    Week 7:  “The Yellow Face”
    Week 8:  “The Red Circle”
    Week 9 (Feb 26-Mar 4):  “The Beryl Coronet”

    Week 10 (Mar 5-11):  “The Resident Patient”
    Week 11:  “The Reigate Squires”
    Week 12:  “The Second Stain”
    Week 13 (Mar 26-Apr 1):  “The Naval Treaty”

    Week 14 (Apr 2-8): “The Crooked Man”
    Week 15:  “The Five Orange Pips”
    Week 16:  “The Noble Bachelor”
    Week 17:  The Valley of Fear
    Week 18 (Apr 30-May 6):  The Valley of Fear

    Week 19 (May 7-13):  The Valley of Fear
    Week 20:  “A Scandal in Bohemia”
    Week 21:  “A Case of Identity”
    Week 22 (May 28-Jun 3):  “The Greek Interpreter”

    Week 23 (Jun 4-10):  The Sign of the Four
    Week 24:  The Sign of the Four
    Week 25:  The Sign of the Four
    Week 26 (Jun 25-Jul 1):  “Silver Blaze”

    (Full schedule below the cut)

    Week 27 (Jul 2-8):  “The Stock-Broker’s Clerk”
    Week 28:  “The Boscombe Valley Mystery”
    Week 29:  “The Man with the Twisted Lip”
    Week 30:  “The Engineer’s Thumb”
    Week 31 (Jul 30-Aug 5):  “The Cardboard Box”

    Week 32 (Aug 6-12):  The Hound of the Baskervilles
    Week 33:  The Hound of the Baskervilles
    Week 34:  The Hound of the Baskervilles
    Week 35 (Aug 27-Sep 2):  “The Blue Carbuncle”

    Week 36 (Sep 3-9):  “The Copper Beeches”
    Week 37:  “The Red-Headed League”
    Week 38:  “Charles Augustus Milverton”
    Week 39 (Sep 24-30):  “The Final Problem”

    Week 40 (Oct 1-7):  “The Empty House”
    Week 41:  “Wisteria Lodge”
    Week 42:  “Three Gables”
    Week 43:  “The Mazarin Stone”
    Week 44 (Oct 29-Nov 4):  “The Norwood Builder”

    Week 45 (Nov 5-11): “The Golden Pince-Nez”
    Week 46:  “The Solitary Cyclist”
    Week 47:  “The Three Students”
    Week 48 (Nov 26-Dec 2): “Black Peter”

    Week 49 (Dec 3-9):  “The Bruce-Partington Plans”
    Week 50:  “The Veiled Lodger”
    Week 51:  “The Missing Three-Quarter”
    Week 52:  “The Abbey Grange”
    Week 53 (Dec 31-Jan 6):  “The Devil’s Foot”

    January 2018
    Week 54 (Jan 7-13):  “The Dancing Men”
    Week 55:  “The Retired Colourman”
    Week 56:  “Thor Bridge”
    Week 57 (Jan 28-Feb 3):  “The Priory School”

    February 2018
    Week 58 (Feb 4-10):  “The Sussex Vampire”
    Week 59:  “The Six Napoleons”
    Week 60:  “The Three Garridebs”
    Week 61 (Feb 25-Mar 3):  “The Disappearance of Lady Francis Carfax”

    March 2018
    Week 62 (Mar 4-10):  “The Illustrious Client”
    Week 63:  “The Blanched Soldier”
    Week 64:  “Shoscombe Old Place”
    Week 65 (Mar 24-31):  “The Creeping Man”

    April 2018
    Week 66 (Apr 1-7):  “The Dying Detective”
    Week 67:  “The Lion’s Mane”
    Week 68:  “His Last Bow”

    Top Ten Books of 2016

    This week’s topic is the Top Ten Best Books of 2016, from The Broke and the Bookish.

    My top ten, in approximate order of reading (oldest to most recent):

    1. Works of Love – Soren Kierkegaard
    2. In the Land of White Death – Valerian Albanov
    3. Not Forgotten: The True Story of My Imprisonment in North Korea – Kenneth Bae.  Reading this memoir filled in the blanks of the story of someone who’d been on my prayer list for a long time.  It also shows an emotional, yet undramatized picture of the North Korean people as Bae encountered them.  Despite the fear, guilt, and uncertainty that Bae experienced in his imprisonment, you find a greater sense of hope, for him and for the North Koreans.  I also strongly recommend Jeffrey Donenfeld’s blog post Exploring North Korea and Running the Pyongyang Marathon, either by itself or as a companion to this book.  Donenfeld’s post and photos give you a poignant context to North Korea as it was just after Kenneth Bae was released.
    4. The Man Who Was Thursday (reread) – G. K. Chesterton
    5. A Prince of Our Disorder – John Mack.  Most interesting, well-sourced biography I’ve ever read: a gold standard for biographers of any era!
    6. An Artist of the Floating World – Kazuo Ishiguro.  This is a sadly underrated book.  I feel like I will be promoting it for the next ten years at least.
    7. Nutcracker and Mouse King, and The Tale of the Nutcracker – Hoffmann / Dumas
    8. The Picture of Dorian Gray – Oscar Wilde
    9. Three Men in a Boat (reread) – Jerome K. Jerome
    10. The Heart of the Antarctic – Ernest Shackleton

    The Forest Giant (Le Gigantesque)

    Since watching Lawrence of Arabia last year, I’ve been actively seeking books written by or related to T. E. LawrenceThe Forest Giant, by Adrien Le Corbeau, is one of the more obscure books.

    Sequoia sempervirens Big Basin Redwoods State Park 4
    Coast Redwood by Allie_Caulfield
    [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

    Lawrence, for the most part, withdrew from politics after the disappointing Paris Peace Conference.  However, he continued to write books and critique literature – writing was one of the few pieces of his past life that he actually still valued.  His French-to-English translation of a book called Le Gigantesque was published in 1924, and along with Homer’s The Odyssey, it is one of the few of his written works that are non-autobiographical.

    I seem to recall The Forest Giant has been referred to as a “novel,” but it is really a philosophical ramble.  The “giant” referred to is the California redwood, and Corbeau explains his thoughts and questions through the journey of the tree’s life.  Lawrence was enthusiastic at the beginning of the book, but by the end of his translation, he was not particularly a fan.

    At last this foul work: complete. Please have [it] typed and send [it] down that I may get it off my suffering chest before I burst. Damn Adrien le Corbeau and his rhetoric. The book is a magnificent idea, ruined by jejune bombast. My version is better than his: but dishonest here and there: but my stomach turned. Couldn’t help it.

    This is just one interesting T. E. quote from the excellent foreword by Jeremy Wilson.  From the foreword, I was also intrigued to learn that Lawrence almost – but not quite – got to translate The Arabian Nights.  (Sad that that project never came to fruition!)

    I felt similar to Lawrence by the end of this reading, and I’m not sure if it was due to the translator or Corbeau himself.  Certainly, it wasn’t T. E.’s fault that the author inserted a lengthy (though non-graphic) sex scene in the middle of the philosophy…I got an laugh out of that anyway, imagining T. E.’s reaction as he came upon it all of a sudden and had to plough through it.  Thematically, this book has a lot in common with contemporary literature, and I wouldn’t be surprised if it gets “rediscovered” and even famous some day.

    Sequoia sempervirens foliage Mendocino
    Sequoia sempervirens foliage by Naotake Murayama
    [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

    On the other hand, some parts of the book are fascinating and almost brilliant.  Corbeau talks about fate, balance, war, time, death, and existentialism…lots of big topics.  He doesn’t seem to settle on one conclusion, unless it be the existence of the “circle of life” (my quote, not his), and that all matter is reincarnated after death into just another being or substance.  The subject is depressing; the writing is absolutely gorgeous, some of the most beautiful I’ve read in a long time.  I think that Lawrence, despite his growing dislike for the book, nevertheless gave it an incredible translation.

    There were many quotes I saved along the way.  I’ll leave you with one, which maybe is the most introspective, having been written after the first World War. 

    How much has been said and thought and written about death!  And without effect.  We should make up our minds that nothing is to be added to what we already know about it.  We continually strain to realise the flavour of death by heaping up a confused mass of ideas, by strange and inordinate imaginings, by deliberately forcing our thought and dealing to a point beyond control.  Yet these are not means and ways by which to learn; for in our wildest dreams, in our most fearful phantasies, or strangest visions, in all that is unfamiliar, runs the thread of life.
    –  Chapter 13, “What is Called Death”

    Russian Literature Challenge 2017

    Ok – I saw this challenge, hosted by Keely, and decided it was irresistible.  In 2014 I participated in o’s Russian Literature challenge, which was awesome, so I’m more than ready for another Russian lit focus!

    I’ll be aiming for a large Level 2 “Chekhov”; these six books:

    1. Forever Flowing – Vasily Grossman.  I heard about Grossman from one of my favorite book bloggers, SRK, and this sounds like a really good novel.
    2. The Letter Killers Club – Sigizmund Krzhizhanovsky.  I loved this author’s writing style in Memories of the Future.  This book is about a club of story tellers who are committed to writing nothing down.  
    3. Cancer Ward – Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn.  This book has been sitting on my shelf for a while, a Powell’s splurge.  The Soviet era interests me, for academic and personal reasons, and I’m eager to read more by Solzhenitsyn, since he is one of the most famous Soviet authors.
    4. Five Plays – Anton Chekhov.  One by the man himself!  I haven’t read any of these plays, just heard good things about them.
    5. Eugene Onegin – Alexander Pushkin.  Onegin is one of my greatest favorite novels of all time (seriously).  I’ve read four English translations in the last several years; my personal goal is to read as many translations as I can find!
    6. We – Yevgeny Zamyatin.  My “read” list is woefully lacking most dystopian classics.  This one sounds very interesting, apparently a precursor to 1984.  

     Yes, I know…no Dostoyevsky.  He’ll probably sabotage my list, though; he has a way of cutting in front of the line…