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Reading Wrap-Up: March 2012, and some words from Langston Hughes

March was a bad month for me in terms of mood, reading books, and blogging. I have been very distracted for reasons that aren’t appropriate for me to write about here, and it has been more important for me to spend my time listening/talking to my friends and trying to spread some goodness into a place that seems to be crawling with nastiness lately. I’d like to think that April will be better, but honestly, I’m not getting my hopes up. I have been battling a lot of hurt and anger, and that makes it hard for me to concentrate on much else. We shall overcome, though, and I hope to be back to my normal reading/blogging self soon.

Here’s a look at what I accomplished last month:

Number of books read: 7
YTD: 35

  • Song of Solomon, by Toni Morrison
  • House of Leaves, by Mark Z. Danielewski
  • We Need to Talk About Kevin, by Lionel Shriver
  • 11/22/63, by Stephen King
  • Let’s Pretend This Never Happened, by Jenny Lawson
  • The Gods of Gotham, by Lyndsay Faye
  • Tar Baby, by Toni Morrison

Number of books in progress: 3

  • Beloved, by Toni Morrison
  • The Cambridge Companion to Toni Morrison, edited by Justine Tally
  • David Copperfield, by Charles Dickens

Number of pages read: 4,075
YTD: 12,941

Books reviewed:

Reviews in progress: A WHOLE BUNCH

My rereading of Toni Morrison’s backlist is going well; I’m rereading them in order of publication date and I’m currently about halfway through Beloved. Reading The Cambridge Companion to Toni Morrison along with each book has been interesting and informative.

I’ll also be reading some good books for various book clubs this month, which you can learn more about in my sidebar. I’m looking forward to all of them.

Check out the long-term challenges I joined in March: Jillian’s Classics Club, and Michelle’s Non-Fiction Adventure.

**I’m using the Daytum website to keep track of my reading stats this year, so you can follow my progress at any time by visiting my Daytum profile.

Back to the Classics Challenge 2012November's Autumn Classics ChallengeMount TBR Reading ChallengeChunkster Reading Challenge 2012 button2012 End of the World Reading Challenge

Reading Challenges progress:

  • Back to the Classics Challenge: 0/9  (YTD: 3/9)
  • Mount TBR Reading Challenge: 0/40  (YTD: 10/40)
  • Chunkster Reading Challenge: 1/14  (YTD: 5/14)
  • End of the World Reading Challenge: 2,762 pages  (YTD: 10,375)

**You can follow my progress and learn more about each challenge under the Challenges tab in my menu bar.

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Ashley (my 11-year-old daughter) is participating in two of the challenges with me: the Back to the Classics Challenge and the Mount TBR Challenge. She doesn’t have a place to review the books she’s read, so she’s just doing the reading and keeping track of her progress in a notebook.

Here’s a look at what Ashley accomplished in March:

Number of books read: 13
YTD: 30

  • Rascal, by Sterling North
  • The Ravenmaster’s Secret: Escape From the Tower of London, by Elvira Woodruff
  • The Fledgling, by Jane Langton
  • Cirque du Freak #1: A Living Nightmare, by Darren Shan
  • Cirque du Freak #2: The Vampire’s Assistant, by Darren Shan
  • Cirque du Freak #3: Tunnels of Blood, by Darren Shan
  • Cirque du Freak #4: Vampire Mountain, by Darren Shan
  • Allegra Biscotti Collection , by Olivia Bennett
  • The Call of the Wild, by Jack London
  • White Fang, by Jack London
  • The Graveyard Book, by Neil Gaiman
  • Radiance, by Alyson Noel
  • Shimmer, by Alyson Noel

Number of pages read: 2,864
YTD: 6,898

Reading Challenges progress:

  • Back to the Classics Challenge: 0/9  (YTD: 4/9)
  • Mount TBR Reading Challenge: 5/50  (YTD: 12/50)
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April is National Poetry Month, so I’d like to leave you with some words from Langston Hughes

Let America Be America Again
by Langston Hughes

Let America be America again.
Let it be the dream it used to be.
Let it be the pioneer on the plain
Seeking a home where he himself is free.
(America never was America to me.)

Let America be the dream the dreamers dreamed–
Let it be that great strong land of love
Where never kings connive nor tyrants scheme
That any man be crushed by one above.

(It never was America to me.)

O, let my land be a land where Liberty
Is crowned with no false patriotic wreath,
But opportunity is real, and life is free,
Equality is in the air we breathe.

(There’s never been equality for me,
Nor freedom in this “homeland of the free.”)

Say, who are you that mumbles in the dark? And who are you that draws your veil across the stars?

I am the poor white, fooled and pushed apart,
I am the Negro bearing slavery’s scars.
I am the red man driven from the land,
I am the immigrant clutching the hope I seek–
And finding only the same old stupid plan
Of dog eat dog, of mighty crush the weak.

I am the young man, full of strength and hope,
Tangled in that ancient endless chain
Of profit, power, gain, of grab the land!
Of grab the gold! Of grab the ways of satisfying need!
Of work the men! Of take the pay!
Of owning everything for one’s own greed!

I am the farmer, bondsman to the soil.
I am the worker sold to the machine.
I am the Negro, servant to you all.
I am the people, humble, hungry, mean–
Hungry yet today despite the dream.
Beaten yet today–O, Pioneers!
I am the man who never got ahead,
The poorest worker bartered through the years.

Yet I’m the one who dreamt our basic dream
In the Old World while still a serf of kings,
Who dreamt a dream so strong, so brave, so true,
That even yet its mighty daring sings
In every brick and stone, in every furrow turned
That’s made America the land it has become.
O, I’m the man who sailed those early seas
In search of what I meant to be my home–
For I’m the one who left dark Ireland’s shore,
And Poland’s plain, and England’s grassy lea,
And torn from Black Africa’s strand I came
To build a “homeland of the free.”

The free?

Who said the free? Not me?
Surely not me? The millions on relief today?
The millions shot down when we strike?
The millions who have nothing for our pay?
For all the dreams we’ve dreamed
And all the songs we’ve sung
And all the hopes we’ve held
And all the flags we’ve hung,
The millions who have nothing for our pay–
Except the dream that’s almost dead today.

O, let America be America again–
The land that never has been yet–
And yet must be–the land where every man is free.
The land that’s mine–the poor man’s, Indian’s, Negro’s, ME–
Who made America,
Whose sweat and blood, whose faith and pain,
Whose hand at the foundry, whose plow in the rain,
Must bring back our mighty dream again.

Sure, call me any ugly name you choose–
The steel of freedom does not stain.
From those who live like leeches on the people’s lives,
We must take back our land again,
America!

O, yes,
I say it plain,
America never was America to me,
And yet I swear this oath–
America will be!

Out of the rack and ruin of our gangster death,
The rape and rot of graft, and stealth, and lies,
We, the people, must redeem
The land, the mines, the plants, the rivers.
The mountains and the endless plain–
All, all the stretch of these great green states–
And make America again!

(Poem source: Poets.org; Photo source: LGBTQ Nation)

{ 18 comments… add one }

  • Jillian ♣ April 1, 2012, 11:57 am

    I’m sorry you’ve been feeling down, Heather. You and your daughter made a lot of progress, though. Best wishes to you. :)

    • Heather April 1, 2012, 12:25 pm

      Thank you, Jillian. :)

      Ashley smiled when she saw that she’s catching up to me, book-wise.

  • Melissa @ Swamp of Boredom April 1, 2012, 2:40 pm

    Your down month would be a banner one for me!

    Good luck with your real-world challenges. :)

    • Heather April 1, 2012, 4:14 pm

      Thanks, Melissa! I’m actually reading much more this year than I did last year.

  • Vasilly April 1, 2012, 4:06 pm

    Heather, I’m so sorry that last month was such a horrible one. Though you said that you doubt things will get better, I’m hoping that they will.

    It looks like Ashley is on a reading roll! What did she think of The Graveyard Book? I liked it but didn’t love it.

    H, have a good week.

    • Heather April 1, 2012, 4:17 pm

      I’m doing my best to be optimistic (which is my default setting, usually). Thanks, Vasilly!

      Ashley said she liked it very much, but she didn’t tell me that with the amount of enthusiasm that she usually reserves for books she “loooooves.” So I would say she “just liked it,” too.

  • Vasilly April 1, 2012, 4:07 pm

    Ack! I forgot to tell you that I love the poem. :-)

    • Heather April 1, 2012, 4:17 pm

      I love this poem, too. :)

  • adamsbibliomania April 1, 2012, 4:52 pm

    I am so pleased to see your daughter joining in with your blogging/reading etc. It is always great to share our favourite hobbies with the ones closest to us.

    I hope you feel better this month, Heather :)

    • Heather April 1, 2012, 6:00 pm

      I agree, Adam, and I’m very happy that she enjoys reading as much as I. It’s a great feeling.

      I’m sure April will be better–it HAS to be, for the sake of my sanity. Haha!

  • readinpleasure April 2, 2012, 10:22 am

    Congrats, Ashely. Your reads for March is impressive

    • Heather April 2, 2012, 1:22 pm

      I will give her your message–I’m sure she’ll be pleased! Thank you!

  • Le David April 2, 2012, 11:23 am

    Thanks for the poem. I haven´t heard of Langston Hughes before, it is really great.

    • Heather April 2, 2012, 1:22 pm

      You’re very welcome. He’s a wonderful poet.

  • Bookish Hobbit April 20, 2012, 1:13 pm

    To me seven books still seems like a lot of titles to finish in the course of a month. Nothing to sneeze at, my friend!

    That is one amazing poem! Thank you for sharing Hughes’ words with us!

    • Heather April 20, 2012, 9:13 pm

      You’re absolutely right–seven books is nothing to sneeze at. It really just *felt* like a crappy month. Thank you!

      And you’re welcome for the poem. Hughes is one of my favorites.

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