Monday, September 29, 2008

I finished!!

I just finished the book! I am so proud of myself for doing it! I got to a certain point and just couldn't bear to put it down!

I'll start my discussions on Wednesday! :)

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Almost Done!

I finished Volume 2 of Pride and Prejudice last night! I am surprised at how much I am enjoying this story! It doesn't have the obsessive hold on me that the Twilight Saga had, but I think that's because I have to work much harder to understand the language in Pride and Prejudice than I do with Twilight.

I have to admit that it's completely annoying me to stop and write a 2-3 sentence narration at the end of each chapter. I wonder if I feel that way because these chapters are so short, so the flow gets interrupted more frequently than it would in another book? I just want to read! I do know that writing the narrations has helped to cement the story in my brain, and to make sure that I'm at least understanding the basic storyline.

I am also finding that I'm able to read more quickly the further along I get in the story! I am definitely getting used to the language, and even though I don't understand every single word, I am getting the gist of the story. That is SO exciting for me!

I am planning to finish the rest of the book by Tuesday night. I would like to post my beginning thoughts on the book by next weekend, and I hope to get some discussion going at that time!

Monday, September 22, 2008

Wow, I'm actually understanding it!

This afternoon I finished Volume 1 of Pride and Prejudice!!

I am not sure every edition divides the book into volumes, so I am referring specifically to Chapters 1-23. I gave a friend of mine some of the details as I understand them, and she said that I'm pretty much on Target. (I do need to own up to the fact that I have watched Bride and Prejudice, which is a Bollywood musical version of the story.)

But I think I'm actually getting the hang of the language! The first 15 chapters or so required my intense concentration, but now I'm finding I'm able to stop for a moment to answer a child's question or comment, and come back to my spot and not be disoriented!

For my journaling, I have been writing a short summary at the end of each chapter. I am doing my very best to keep it to 2-3 sentences, which is a challenge because I like to write and include details. I know that must come as a shock, especially if you've read my homeschooling blog! ;) But I'm keeping to the purpose of helping my brain to process what I have read, and in the case of the complex language Austen uses, taking the story and putting it into my own words helps me to make sure that I really know what is going on.

There are a number of words and concepts that I'm not familiar with, but I am underlining and turning down corners to come back to those later!

How is your reading coming along? Please don't feel you have to keep up with my pace! I feel that I need to have at least the first reading done by the end of the month, so I can write about the book in greater detail! But don't feel pressured to do the same! This is supposed to be fun!

Monday, September 15, 2008

The last of the preparations are complete!

Today I finished reading Chapters 14-15 of How to Read a Book. I skipped forward to these 2 chapters, because they deal specifically with how to read imaginative literature.

The "rules" for reading imaginative literature, and specifically stories, are different from reading an expository work. Mr. Adler does not seem to enumerate these "rules" as specifically as he does for expository work, but he does give a great foundation. I did not find lists of questions to answer, as there are in The Well-Educated Mind, but there is a good deal of the same advice. First and foremost, Mr. Adler encourages readers not to try to "resist the effect that a work of imaginative literature has on you." I was thrilled with that line, and I highlighted it in pink! LOL He encourages readers to read through a story as quickly and intensely as possible. Do not be anxious if you do not remember each character or each event as it is happening. As you read along, important characters will reveal themselves and important incidents will be recollected and connected to one another. Allow yourself to step into the world the author has created, and become a participant in the happenings! This advice sounds right up my alley!

Mr. Adler goes on to say when you have read a story analytically, you will be able to tell what happened in the story in a sentence or two. (I keep thinking of the flair on facebook that says, "It's this story about a girl and she falls in love with a vampire... no really, it's better than it sounds!"). You should also be able to order the parts of the story according to their relation to time (beginning, middle, end). Then you will not only be able to judge the book based upon whether you like it or don't like it, but also be able to tell if it's "good" or "bad" and why you feel that way. This analytical reading should enhance the enjoyment of a story!

Having read the pertinent sections of both Mr. Adler's book and Mrs. Bauer's book, I think the approach I will take with Bella's Bookshelf will be somewhere in the middle. I think I will need to start more with the questions that Mrs. Bauer offers in her book for a starting point, but I won't obsess over answering each one. And I won't let it interfere with the enjoyment of the story. Both authors recommend getting through the story in its entirety first and foremost, so I will do that, taking notes and underlining and turning down the corners on confusing parts in a brief manner. Then I will go back through and work to answer the questions. I will share each of these stages on this blog, and I hope you will share your experiences as well!

I'm going to begin working on Pride and Prejudice this evening! And I'm VERY excited!

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Musings on How to Read a Book, Chapters 1-5

I've finished reading the first 5 chapters of How to Read a Book by Mortimer J. Adler. As he encourages active readers to make a book their own by writing in it, he would be pleased to know that I'm doing exactly that in his book! It still feels very un-natural to me though!

I have been very encouraged by what I've read of this book so far. It has a different feel to it than The Well-Educated Mind by Susan Wise Bauer. It is sort of hard to explain in just a few words, but I guess it feels more like a story than the "how to" book its name would imply.

For example, Mr. Adler speaks about how learning to be an analytical reader is a difficult task, but one that is well-worth the effort. In Chapter 5,
he compares it to learning to ski, or some equally complex task. At first you have to concentrate on each of the different 'rules', and it's all so difficult and hard and frustrating. But as you get each step to become habit and natural, you can begin to move from just trying to stay up, into feeling the flow of the hill and the rush of the air.

This is especially meaningful to me. I know how I get when things are difficult and 0verwhelming --- I want to give up! I'm lazy intellectually because I was never challenged intellectually. School was always very easy for me, so when faced with a mental challenge (or any other kind of challenge), I gave up. It's one of the reasons I don't like to read difficult books. It's hard. My brain doesn't take as naturally to words as it does to numbers. Now I see there might be reason that I gave up: nobody ever taught me the 'rules' of how to be an analytical reader. But it's never too late to learn!

Mr. Adler agrees with a point that Mrs. Bauer made in her book: When you are reading a difficult book, it's OK for the first reading to be a ' just get through it' sort of thing. Mr. Adler calls this an "inspectional reading", which sounds much more official than "just get through it". That idea never occurred to me before! I can't tell you how many times I would start books and give up because they were hard for me. I couldn't understand everything that was going on! The notion of keeping on going because it might all fall into place later, or the fact that you get more from half-understanding a hard book than from completely grasping an easy book, never crossed my mind.

So I learned some important things from these first 5 chapters:
  • These first efforts are going to be hard, and messy
  • It's not going to be pretty at the start, and I'm going to make mistakes
  • The more I do this, the easier it will get
  • The results will be worth it!
I find myself getting more and more excited and anxious about this adventure in becoming a great reader! It is helpful for me to know that I don't have to be perfect from the very beginning. This reading and discussing Pride and Prejudice might be the hardest thing I've done in a very long time. It's going to be new and scary, and probably a big mess. But it's also exciting to think that one day I might find myself going back to Pride & Prejudice, and it will be easier! Maybe I'll even make new connections and pull new meanings out of the book at that time because I won't be focused so much on just getting through it!

Friday, September 5, 2008

And the first book will be...

Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austen!

I chose this book because Stephenie loosely based Twilight on Pride & Prejudice. You can watch the interview where she discusses this here.

Also, I chose Pride & Prejudice because Bella mentions it as one of her favorite books in Twilight on page 148 (hardcover). She had taken her volume of the works of Jane Austen out into the yard with her, and she was trying to decide which book to read:

"My favorites were Pride and Prejudice and Sense and Sensibility. I'd read the first most recently..."


Which makes me wonder: Does Bella write in HER books? If I ever meet Stephenie Meyer, I'm going to ask her!!

Discussion will begin in October! I'll nail down a specific date in a week or so.