Saturday, January 01, 2011

Reading Resolutions for 2011

As I've learned during the past four years, I am really terrible about keeping reading resolutions and completing book challenges.  That's why I'm going to keep it simple going into 2011.  Proving how bad I am at keeping reading resolutions, the first one of the list for this new year is actually a repeat of one I first made (and failed at) in January 2008:

1.  Re-read the four books in Larry McMurtry's Lonesome Dove series in the real-time order in which they occur, not in the order they were published.  That means reading them in this sequence: Dead Man's Walk (the prequel that introduces McCrae and Call), Comanche Moon (the middle years), Lonesome Dove, and Streets of Laredo (covering McCrae's later years as a bounty hunter).

2.  Finally read Pat Conroy's Beach Music, a book I've owned since the week it was published and have still not read.  I tend to hold books of my favorite authors for a few months before reading them, sort of like saving some Halloween candy in reserve as a kid.  Through some weird fluke, I've been saving this one for almost 15 years - that's ridiculous.

3.  Much in the same vein as number 2, above, I plan to read last year's The Glass Rainbow (James Lee Burke) and This Body of Death (Elizabeth George).  I bought both those last year and set them aside for those perfect times during which I knew I could savor them; those times never happened.

4.  Finally read Toni Morrison's Beloved.  As I recall, I started this one several years ago but set it aside for some reason.  It's been laughing at me from the bookshelf ever since.

5.  Get my page-per-day average back up to 100 pages.  I slipped a little this year, coming in at almost 2,000 pages short of the number I hoped to read in 2010, leaving me at 95 pages a day for the year.

6.  Find time to read and re-read some of the classic literature I pretty much avoided during 2010.  There's no excuse now that all the classics can be downloaded in e-book format free of charge.  It's just too easy more excuses.

7.  Participate in C.B.'s Western Read-a-long challenge in which all one has to do is read one western novel during the month of May.  Surely, this is one challenge I won't fail to complete...surely.

So there you have it.  Simple enough on the surface, but if my past track record is any indication, I will fail on at least two-thirds of even these.


  1. Lonesome Dove is my favorite novel, bar none. In fact, I love it so much that I have steadfastly refused to touch the other three books, chiefly from fear that they won't measure up.

    Perhaps I should reconsider?

  2. I've Lonesome Dove on my TBR shelf waiting for a re-read. I loved it. I know there are three other books now, but I'm hesitant to pick them up. I think Lonesome Dove is darn near perfect and fear the others wouldn't measure up.

    Glad to have you in for the Wester Read-a-long Challenge. Thanks for the link. I think this is the first ever western challenge.

  3. I agree with both of you about the greatness of Lonesome Dove and have often mentioned that it is probably my favorite novel of all time. It is simply that good.

    That said, the other three novels in the series don't stand much of a chance to equal Lonesome Dove. That's not to say, though, that they aren't worthy of a read. I enjoyed them to learn more about Call and McCrae and how they developed their wonderful friendship. The others fill in a lot of the gaps.

    Too, it was fun to see the guys as teenaged cowboy wanna-bes and to see what early life in the Rangers was like for them. And then, there's the book that shows what happened to McCraae after Gus died, a story that puts the series to bed for good.

    I'm wondering what it will be like to read them in "order" this time and whether the experience of reading of their entire lifetimes in just a few weeks will change my understanding of them and their relationship.

  4. Your number 2 was a jaw-dropper for me - 15 years is a long time to save your "Halloween candy." I think it's time to stop saving your good chocolate, as it were, and finally read that book. Although I'm not necessarily one to talk, considering all the stuff I've got on my shelves that I had planned to read years ago and just didn't. Sometimes savoring the anticipation of reading something you're really looking forward to can turn into just forgetting.

  5. Library Girl, I have to admit that "forgetting" played a large role in that one.

  6. Great aspirations for 2011! I have some books that have been laughing at my on my shelf for far too many years too! My only real resolution this year is to read more from my shelves in 2011.

  7. I'm going to try to better focus my reading this year, Kathleen. That means, in part, that I have to cut down on the number of review copies I read because I tend to wander all over the map with those things.

  8. What's a good western to read? The only westerns I've ever read were the Border Trilogy by McCarthy.

  9. Sean, I just finished re-reading McMurtry's "Dead Man's Walk," and can recommend that one as a good place to start. Of course, to most fans of the western, his "Lonesome Dove" has to be the best western ever. I also like most of the work of Elmer Kelton, a Texan who just died a few months ago...especially his later novels that took place in the twentieth century.

    I'm not a fan of Louis L'Amour at all, though. His westerns bore me.

  10. As a Lonesome Dove acolyte, I, too, was resistant to the other books. I read Comanche Moon and thoroughly detested it. And i don't detest many novels. If you think Dead Man's Walk is worth the read, I'll give it a try. Kind of gun-shy now about it and Streets of Laredo. LD is a top-five of all-time for me.

    Beach Music will be thoroughly enjoyable for you. It's Prince of Tides X 2. Re-read it a few years back and enjoyed it immensely; however, it falls to middle of the pack for me in the Conroy canon. I think Santini and Lords of Discipline are probably his two best-written: the key crossroad of a semi-restrained style and Conroy's crazy-talented ability to tell a story. Prince of Tides remains my sentimental favorite.

    Great resolutions, Sam.

  11. Sean, Dead Man's Walk worked for me better this time than it did the first time I read it. I think, this time, I was looking for more links to Lonesome Dove and I enjoyed seeing how the personalities of the two teenagers was so similar to what they were still like in old age.

    Clara is introduced in this book and she's a hoot, to say the least, if perhaps a bit of an unbelievable young woman of her times. I still enjoyed her young self, however.

    And Gus was so into "whores" that I had to laugh at the consistency in his character. The young man spent his last dime on them, just as the old Gus would still be doing a few decades later.

    I do hope you find it decent.

    Beach Music sounds great from what you say. I still can't really figure out how I have still not read this one. I plan to get on it soon, maybe this month.