Sunday, September 02, 2007

Rooftop Reading

Sigh. Back to work for real tomorrow.
I'm teaching 11 classes this semester. This sounds like a heavy load, but it's a well-crafted schedule. Only one day (Monday) can be properly called a "Hell Day" with five 2-hour classes beginning at: 7:20, 9:00, 11:00, 3:45 and 8:45. (Check out that downtime, though. Any bookworm worth his or her salt can see that it's perfect for squeezing in a few chapters here and there.)

After Hell Day, the rest of the days also begin early, but are finished by 1 pm, by which time I'm usually fully awake. You know what that means! Lots of time to read! Outdoors! September, October and November are the nicest months in Korea with warm temperatures and a slight cool breeze and a sky so clear and blue and beautiful that it's almost absurd. During this time, I like to read either on the roof of my apartment building or my office building where it's unlikely any students will look for me.

If it ever stops raining, that is! The first 4 days I was back, the humidity was 100%. Too hot to live. Like breathing in thick pea soup instead of air. On the 5th day, last Wednesday, it began to rain, and it hasn't stopped since. The river looks dangerously high. WTH? When I left for the United States, it was rainy season! What's this? Back by popular demand? On the upside, the humidity has disappeared. On the downside, the gray sky has beckoned me to take nap after nap after nap this weekend. I hope I'm only on the roof in the next few days because I'm escaping to read, not because I'm escaping a flood.

Usually I don't plan out what I'm going to read during the month, but I've entered some new challenges (after faltering on some of my earlier ones) and joined a book group, so September is pretty well set up for me. Here's what I hope to accomplish:

1. Finish Summer Of '49. [Easy. I'm only 2 chapters from finishing what is probably the best book I'll read all year. David Halberstam writes so clearly and beautifully about a subject near and dear to my heart, but he is so convincing and entertaining that even non-baseball fans would be entertained. Please, if you've read Halberstam's books, don't hesitate recommend another for me.]

2. Finish Andersonville. [This is left over from either my Chunkster Challenge or my TBR Challenge, I can't remember which, and I'm too lazy to go and look. It's true that I've been sidetracked for months, but don't get me wrong -- I like the book. To say that I enjoy it sounds a little strange, given the grim subject material. I'm impressed with the amount of research MacKinlay Kantor did for the novel. Andersonville's not a quick, easy read by design, but I'm nearly to the halfway point, and I'm going to finish.]

3. Read Robinson Crusoe. [This is for the "Unread Authors" Challenge. I've been planning to read this book for more than 3 years now. Plus, when I finish, My Tough And Cool Inner Bookworm can feel all smartypants and smug about reading yet another classic for 2007!]

4. Read You Remind Me Of Me by Dan Chaon. [This is for the September 16 meeting of BOOKLEAVES, my wonderful book group.]

5. Read (or at least start!) Letty Fox: Her Luck.
[Imani started an Outmoded Authors Challenge (which runs from September until February) and one of the many authors on her carefully compiled list is Christina Stead. She also has W. Somerset Maugham on the list, so this would be a good opportunity to check out my copy of Of Human Bondage. I wish I'd known about this challenge earlier; it would've been a great chance to bring up Don Robertson's name and novels yet again.]
6. Finish Terrorist by John Updike. [No reason, except that I adore Updike's novels, and I'm on page 70 of this one. I got a little sidetracked, with the trip and all.]

That's probably enough ambitious thinking and planning for one month. Onward and (hopefully) upward.


Dewey said...

Now hang on! How will you teach a 2 hour class starting at 7:20 when your next class starts at 9:00? Have you cloned yourself?

Reading outdoors, especially in the fall, really is the best, isn't it?

Sam said...

The first two books on your list are two of my all-time favorites. That's not so unusual, I suppose, because baseball history and Civil War history are two of my favorite things to read about. Don't give up on Andersonville because you are entirely correct about the historical accuracy of the book. I had read a lot of nonfiction about the prison and really enjoyed the way that the characters of the novel followed reality so closely.

I hope that you can ease back into work rather painlessly...but that Monday schedule sounds like a tough one. Good luck.

Bybee said...

The early morning class isn't quite 2 hours. It ends at eight-fifty. Plus, I found out this morning that they've sneaked in another class on me -- this one starts at six-ten pm, and runs Mon-Fri.

You've got such excellent reading tastes! Can you recommend more baseball history books?

Eva said...

Good luck with reading!

That seems like a ton of classes to be teaching-I hope that it's not the same material over and over. It's raining pretty much every day here in Colorado-I feel like I'm back in England.

kookie said...

Dewey, has an excellent idea, though. If you cloned yourself, you could teach your classes and still read up on the roof. You might want to consider it. :)

John Mutford said...

That's a pretty hectic schedule you got there!

Updike's another author I still haven't read. I should be embarrassed at this point.

Anonymous said...

Your Mondays sound like the reason Monday's have a bad rap. At least you get the worst over quickly. Right?

Hmm. I just picked up a Christina Stead novel after reading "Rereadings." Oh. No. Another challenge.

Your list looks quite impressive! I'm not sure I could get through baseball & the Civil War though.

Bybee said...

4 classes are the same, another 3 are the same and 2 are the same. The rest are different.
It rained for 10 straight days here. Although it's my typical English Major dream to live in England, I don't think I'd do so well there.

They dumped a Saturday class on me every other Saturday! Elementary school children! EEEEK! I really need that clone NOW!

As far as Updike goes, try Rabbit, Run first. I'd really be interested in seeing your reaction to it since you're male and roughly the same age as Rabbit Angstrom. Updike said that he wrote it as an answer, a kind of reprimmand to "On The Road".

Carrie K,
Halberstam's baseball book reads wonderfully. I can't praise it highly enough. Kantor's Andersonville is work, though.

Lotus Reads said...

I must have read Maugham's "Of Human Bondage" when I was 15 or so and it left a lasting impression on me, I would so like to revisit it sometime, but because it is a tome I might have to use the audio option.

I hope you have fun teaching your classes Bybee, it sure sounds like you have a lot of good reading material for them!

Dewey said...

Maybe you'd better clone yourself! I suspect they're about to tell you that you have the midnight to six a.m. class, too, any minute now!

Isabella K said...

Hi Bybee,

I can't find your email address, so I hope you don't mind my leaving this message in the comments to a weeks-old post (where you may never see it...?), but it seemed like the most appropriate place.

I just started reading Letty Fox, and I'm loving it. I don't know anyone who's read it, or knows it, so I'm very excited to see it on your list. I look forward to comparing thoughts on it. Maybe I should join the Outmoded challenge after all. (I've also been considering rereading Maugham's Bondage, with adult eyes this time.)

You asked me about Patrick Hamilton a while ago: start wtih Slaves of Solitude if you can, but he wrote so relatively little and his books are hard to come by, so read what you find.