Friday, February 01, 2008

underachiever

I love the end of one month/beginning of a new one, because I love reading everyone's reading wrap-ups for the month. Really I do. Yet they always leave me feeling like such a slacker. Take Eva and her 28 books or Dewey and her 20 books or Joy and her 16 books. I don't know how many books Carl read, but it was a lot, because I sure added a lot of sci-fi books to my wish list based on his reviews during the past month. Same with Nymeth...no idea exactly how many books she knocked off her pile but it was a considerable number. Again I know this because of the what's been added to that ever-growing wish list. And she got all this reading done despite the fact that she had finals.

And then there's me...and my piddly 6 books. What's even sadder is that that's really not a bad month for me. Pretty average, actually. *Sigh* (Of course, this just makes it more apparent what a fool I am for signing up for all those book challenges, huh?)

In addition to the six books I did manage to cross off the list, I read a smattering of shorter works, mostly folktales and fairy tales. Annie and I have been reading folktales from around the world for school this year, and we are now embarking on a journey into the world of Grimms Fairy Tales. This is really quite a new experience for me...I honestly don't remember reading many even as a child.

Of the folktales I read in January, I would definitely have to say that "Tonino and the Fairies" was my favorite. This is a folktale from Spain, one I was completely unfamiliar with. It is the tale of Tonino, a goat herder with a hunchback. Despite his pain, he was the merriest of fellows and always carried with him a positive outlook. He was well-loved by everyone, except for a boy named Miquel, who also had a hunchback. Miguel was "as cross and resentful as Tonino was merry and forgiving." I'm sure you can guess the message conveyed in this folktale, but I won't ruin the specifics. So if you want to find out the role of the fairies, you'll just have to read this one yourself. (Many of the folktales we've been reading, including this one, are found in Best-Loved Folktales of the World, selected by Joanna Cole.)

It seems a bit sad that I've made it this far into my life without having read Grimms Fairy Tales. I suppose I should just consider it one of those better late than never situations. Thus far, I've only managed to read a handful of the tales. For me, they've been a mixed bag. "The Traveling Musicians," the tale of a quartet of "past-their-usefulness" animals heading for the city to make it as musicians, made me laugh aloud. "The Fisherman and his Wife," a tale of the evils of greed, has long been a favorite of mine. "The Twelve Dancing Princesses" was totally enchanting throughout most of it, but I was extremely disappointed in its ending. It seems the perfect tale for a re-telling. (And of course, it's entirely possible that that has been done already.) I read a few more as well, but those are the three that stick out most in my mind.


And finally, I did manage to knock off one of my stories for The Short Story Reading Challenge..."How to Sell the Ponti Bridge" by Neil Gaiman (from M Is for Magic). What can I say...I loved this story!

It begins...

My favorite Rogues' Club is the oldest and still the most exclusive in all of the Seven Worlds. It was formed by a loose association of rogues, cheats, scoundrels, and confidence men almost seventy thousand years ago.

...and what follows is the tale of how Stoat gained his entrance into this exclusive club.

Don't ask me why, but I just love the story of a good confidence scheme or clever heist. (But only in a fictional setting, of course!) Maybe it's the intelligence and cleverness involved?

And speaking of intelligent and clever...those are certainly two words easily applied to Neil Gaiman. He never ceases to amaze me with his versatility and brilliance.

Okay, despite my efforts to try to "beef up" my list for the month of January, it is still apparent that I'm quite an underachiever.

22 comments:

Carl V. said...

Nah, you aren't an underachiever. It is all about the quality of the reading for you personally and your experience with it.

I finished 10 books in January. In addition to that I have 3 books that I am either half way or past the halfway point.

I only got to 10 because last night I sat down and got hooked on a 250 page sci fi classic and read it cover to cover. Otherwise I would have only read 9.

But, I only average in the neighborhood of 50 books a year. I have spurts where I read alot, then ones where I play alot of computer games, then where I watch alot of DVDs, etc. To me it is the quality of my reading experience that matters, now how many.

I just decided to go for a lot of shorter works to start the year off so that I could get more bang for my buck. While I am in the sci fi mood I want to read a bunch of stuff and that is better accomplished by picking shorter works rather than a few monsters.

As long as you are enjoying your reading you don't have to feel any need to compete.

Jean said...

Yo! Let's talk underachiever on the reading front! Yeah, me! I read (pause to count the number of reviews on my blog), yeah, right, two (slowly now, 1 ... 2) books in January. Oh, I did start on the 3rd. And if it weren't for Annie's challenge, I probably wouldn't have made it into single digits.

Look at everything else you do ... and did this month. You are a full-time, stay-at-home mom to three active kids, and you were a single parent for half the month. You homeschool a very challenging (you know what I mean by that) kid. Your house is, I am sure, cleaner than mine.

And Carl is right. Reading is not a competition. I should know. I am a very, very competitive person, so much so that I only play certain games with certain people because otherwise I am likely to get too wound up for words.

In your honor, though, I will not ascend to the upstairs and see if I still have a certain card to send you.

Debi said...

Carl-

Oh, I know you're right! I really, truly don't feel the need to compete. But I am truly in awe of how much some people do get read! In reality, I've been quite satisfied with this month's reading, having entered both the graphic novel world and the sci-fi experience. I've kind of being feeling like the proverbial kid in the candy shop with all these "choices" out there. (The one truly "bad" thing about having finished so few books is that it makes it harder to justify all my book purchases!)

Jean-

Gee...you were doing wonders for my ego there,. That is, until you got to "Your house is, I am sure, cleaner than mine." I love a clean house, but I so very, very rarely have a clean house!

And I want to hear more about this whole competitive thing. That bit about the certain games for certain people...too funny! You must elaborate.

Chris said...

I'm right there with you Debi...it's not so much a need to compete with me, but it's just that there are so many books in the world that I want to be able to get to them all! For me, it was 4 this month! So I bow down to your 6 ;) And 2 of my 4 were under 200 pages...1 under 150 pages! Oh well. There are just so many great books to read and I wish I could read faster...

Debi said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Debi said...

Chris-

Yeah, but I'd say that 20,000 page book you read more than makes up for the shorter ones!

Couldn't agree with you more...sometimes it's sort of depressing knowing that I can't possibly live long enough to read all the great books that are out there!

Court said...

I only read 6 this month too - and that's usually my average every month. I wanted to more this year, but it's not going to happen with everything else going on! So I'm with you when you feel like an under-acheiver. ;)

Reading the Grimms Fairy Tales sounds like it would be cool - I hope you and Annie have a lot of fun with that!

Stephanie said...

No worries. I'm right there with you on the reading front. Just too many other things to do these days. Besides, reading is supposed to be for enjoyment. Not how many books you put away each month. I would love to be able to read 20 books a month. But it won't happen while I have kids in the house, that's for sure!!

Oh yeah....Neil Gaiman!! He's my new literary crush!! I think I'm in love with him. Anyone that smart and funny.....and can write!! Yep...he's the best!

kreed said...

Would you stop beating yourself up for reading only six books (plus a ton of short stories and folktales and homeschool stuff) - you do realize there are a lot of people who don't read six books in a year, much less a month?!?!

BTW, we didn't have Tale of Despereaux before you snet it to us! :)

Eva said...

Just to reiterate what everyone else has said, you're not an underacheiver! hehe Would you call any of your fellow bloggers who read six books in January underachievers? Then don't call yourself one either. (End future mother moment.)

I understand the other point of view, the "My God, if I don't start reading faster I'm never going to get through all the books I want to read and just thinking about it makes my head explode." But really, I feel the same way, so I think that's something people who really love books will always live with regardless of their reading speed.

Those fables sound really neat. You make homeschooling sound like so much fun!!! Since I'm pretty new to your blog, I'm curious: are you and Annie planning on keeping it up through high school? Or are you not sure yet?

kreed said...

BTW, I hope you know I was just poking fun at your challenge obsession in my YA challenge post...I think it's great that you do them all!

Quixotic said...

Well Debi, you have read more books than me during the last month! I am on book number four of 2008! For some reason I am in a slow reading period at the moment, possibly because my attention is divided between lots of things - books, films, games, crafts etc. Like Carl, I go through phases. I do want to pick up the pace though, if only to get through the massive pile of stuff I have to read!

Sounds like you and Annie are doing some great reading. :)

Boudicca said...

Ok, you beat me. I read a grand total of 3 books. Unless you want to count the mountain of picture books I had to read to my 2 year old? I read a lot less since I'm not breastfeeding :P That sounds really bad but it's true!

alisonwonderland said...

i managed 10 in january - but i started the year off with lots of children and YA titles - just so i could feel good about starting off strong. :)

i am hoping for 104 books this year, but i think all the challenges i'm signed up for total even more than that! so i'm just trying to focus on all the fun i'm having reading.

it is interesting to think about what i'd have to do to read more - like 20 or 28 ... for one thing, i'd have to read faster! lol! and maybe sleep less, and play scrabble on facebook less, and blog less ... there's always doing housework less - oh, wait; i don't think it can get much less and remain livable. :)

Debi said...

Eva-

It was truly an agonizing decision whether or not to leave Annie in school or not. But since pulling her out starting last year, we've had no regrets. At first, we had sort of assumed that she'd head back to school in 6th grade (that's when middle school starts here). The middle school has a lot more to offer in terms of advanced classes and whatnot. But now we really can't see sending her back to school. Homeschooling has been so wonderful for her and allowed her to do so many things that she wouldn't have otherwise had the chance to do. (It definitely helps that my husband teaches at a huge community college, and that leads to all sorts of extra opportunities.) Annie is most likely going to be taking her first class at the community college in the fall. (We had planned for it to be this spring. She'd even taken their English placement test, scoring in the 75th percentile in reading comprehension and the 99th percentile in sentence structure...not too shabby for a 10-year-old. But then one snafu after another plagued us, and Annie decided she'd rather wait until next fall to give it a go.) So, anyway, I wouldn't say that there's NO possibility that she'll go back for high school, but at this point it's probably not too likely.

Kara-

You know what, it never even occurred to me to take offense! I know you're way too sweet to be mean!

Rebecca-

I know exactly what you mean! I used to get so much more reading done before Max quit breastfeeding. Just one of the many reasons I miss it!

Alison-

It's just way too scary a thought to actually count how many books you've committed yourself to through challenges, isn't it?!! I did count them up at one point...and knew that there was no possible way I could get them all read in time. So what did I do? Went and joined several more. :)

Joy said...

Hi Debi! :) You gave me a great idea...I could try and read short stories by Gaiman, not entire books. Maybe I'll warm up to him and that genre. I'll have to look up the one you just read.

Also, reading is for our personal pleasure - no matter the total. I hope you loved your 6 books! I would rather read 6 great books, than 10 not so great. It is not about quantity. Circumstances (life) play a huge part in my reading stats. Am I pleased that I was able to read many books in January? Absolutely. My TBR list is miles long and I'd love to shorten it. :)

Eva said...

That's so neat that Annie gets to take a class in the fall! And it's so generous of you to give such a great opportunity, one that she'll treasure for the rest of her life.

Megan said...

No worries! Your six books put my three to shame (and all three of mine were pretty short, too)!

Hopefully I'll put a bigger dent in my TBR pile this month - even though it's a short month. And as long as you're enjoying what you're reading, I suppose it doesn't matter how many get read anyway. *shrugs* Doesn't stop me from wishing I'd read more, though! Where does the time get to?

Amanda said...

6 books is not bad at all! That's more than a book a week! Oh and let's see...you have children that you homeschool, a husband, meals to make, things to clean...a family to run!! I would say 6 books is pretty darn good!

Dewey said...

Listen here, Buster! Never call my friend Debi an underachiever or a fool again!

Seriously, though, I have 6-book months, too. But I had 1/4 of January off work, PLUS two snow days, PLUS two days home sick, PLUS half the books I read were knitting books, which means they were very thin and fluffed out with patterns. And I have only one kid in the house, who is almost grown up, and I'm not homeschooling him. If you really can't help comparing yourself to other bloggers, don't overlook your own badass qualities!

But I really love everyone's end of the month wrap-up posts, too. It's a great chance to click on their links for any of their reviews I happened to have missed!

Nymeth said...

Like Carl said, it's about quality! And plus, you do get a lot of reading done considering how busy you are. You have a whole family to look after, you homeschool Annie, you blog, you do plenty of other things. I have no doubt that all of those are much more time-consuming than revising for finals!

That folktale from Spain sounds so cool! I need to get my hands on that book. I have never read the complete Grimms either, but hopefully that will change this year.

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