a fit of reading. a bout of books.

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The Bout of Books read-a-thon is organized by Amanda @ On a Book Bender and Kelly @ Reading the Paranormal. It is a week long read-a-thon that begins 12:01am Monday, January 7th and runs through Sunday, January 13th in whatever time zone you are in. Bout of Books is low-pressure, and the only reading competition is between you and your usual number of books read in a week. There are challenges, giveaways, and a grand prize, but all of these are completely optional. For all Bout of Books 6.0 information and updates, be sure to visit the Bout of Books blog. – From the Bout of Books 6.0 team

LEARN HOW TO PARTICIPATE IN THE READ-A-THON AT  http://boutofbooks.blogspot.com/

THIS IS WHAT I PLAN TO DO____________________

TIME DEVOTED TO READING

I will do by best and try to read two hours a day. Given the current state of my schedule, that’s as much as I can do, but I think it’s good enough for a read-a-thon.

MY GOALS

To finish the books from my BOOKS-TO-READ list (see list below) and learn how to organize my time in an efficient manner, in a way that enables me to read a lot in a limited amount of time.

BOOKS TO READ

  • ‘FAIR STOOD THE WIND FOR FRANCE’, H.E. BATES
  •  ‘MARK TWAIN: THE COMPLETE SHORT STORIES*, MARK TWAIN

* But only the first seven stories, which are titled as follows,

1.- The Notorious Jumping Frog of Calaveras County

2.- The Story of the Bad Little Boy

3.- Cannibalism in the Cars

4.- A Day at Niagara

5.- Legend of the Capitoline Venus

6.- Journalism in Tennessee

7.- A Curious Dream

UPDATES

Monday

Read though I did, I know I could have done better. I only read three chapters of the novel “FAIR STOOD THE WIND FOR FRANCE”, by H. E. Bates.

Tuesday

Today I received guests at home – a cousin, aunt and uncle, whom I had not seen in almost two years. Consequently, reading had to be put off until their departure. But that wasn’t until after dinner, and by then I was exhausted, and was able to read only two pages of FSWF.

Wednesday

Today I have read another couple of chapter from FSWF. I’m almost done! I could do more, but I decided to take the following decision, which may go against the spirit of this read-a-thon: I will leave the last chapter of this great novel by Bates for tomorrow. The book rests on my desk, waiting for tomorrow’s break of dawn, when, according to plan, I may enjoy its final lines with a nice cup of steaming coffee (no sugar, the way I like it) =).

Thursday

I failed, yet again, to fulfil my goals. Only this time I can’t say I regret it. You see, English is my second language, and perhaps that’s why after having finished a novel (FSWF), starting a series of short stories – great as were they – I was a bit tired and needed to throw some Spanish reading in. Actually, Russian literature translated to Spanish. I began reading Tolstoi’s The Kreutzer Sonata in Spanish (my native tongue).

Yes, thursday was a good day for reading. I’m already halfway through, since it is a short novel. Mark Twain will have to wait just a little longer.

Friday

I finished reading The Kreutzer Sonata. Great book. Tolstoi never lets me down. I see if I can write a review on both novels when I have the time.

Saturday

Number of books I’ve read today:
Total number of books I’ve read:
Books:

Sunday

Number of books I’ve read today:
Total number of books I’ve read:
Books:


A Short Story by Me (untitled yet)

This story still needs some editing, but since I haven’t posted in a while, I will go against my good judgement as a writer and share this with you anyway. I will, of course, eventually  edit it. Comments are always welcomed.

UNTITLED

There wasn’t much Peter could do about it. Everything he had tried had yielded no pleasant results. Everything, yes, except for what he was about to do now.

Of course, he couldn’t do it everytime he wanted. No. He had to be alone. He always checked his parents were at the office and Jen was at school. Dunno what they’d do to me if they found out, Peter thought.

When the kettle began to sing like a pipe whistle, he turned off the stove and poured some tea. Two cups.

Waiting for him on one chair was Tom. He had decided to name him after one of his previous classmates from school. Peter sighed at the thought of Tom. He had been a real friend some time ago. It was a pity he had had to move away. A whole jury had taken part in that decision. And a judge had approved at court. The real Tom, wheresoever he was, could probably never imagine what Peter was up to.

Peter sat at the table and sipped some tea. The doll that sat motionless in fron of him, with uncooked noodles instead of hair and two green buttons for eyes, stared at him with an empty look of plastic and a fake smile.

‘Hi, friend’ said Peter, and sipped some more tea.

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Time Management

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“You know, some of your daily obligations may seem impossible to fulfill. You do them anyway”, a friend of mine said to me one afternoon, after I had told him about my worries concerning procrastination. His words caused a disturbing effect, like that of a pebble when cast on water, as it left growing ripples in my mind. The thing is, he and I were quite different back then – and boy I envied him. He was a med school undergraduate who lived his life in small pieces of time. He knew, for example, that he had a reccess of forty-five minutes at two, after which he would study for three hours nonstop. Next he would have a fifteen-minutes break, and then he would return to his duties. Minutes were not to be wasted in his life. In addition, bound to his schedule were other obligations (though he wouldn’t call them that way) related to his religous practices, which included a time for praying, a time for reading, and a time for mass. Yet, he still had time to spare for friends and family. I thought of him as a walking clock-pendulum – precise, steady, swinging from task to task. But my daily routine was quite the opposite. To begin with, it wasn’t a routine at all, unless you counted that every morning I would ignore the alarm clock for some twenty minutes, then drag myself out of bed, run to every class, be late for every meeting, and fail to finish (and even start) some tasks.
It cannot be said that I did not try. On the contrary, I used to struggle to make the most of my day. In spite of this, time seemed to slip away from my hands like water on a bathtub drain. It was not long, however, until I realized that I could draw a distinction between those hours spent on certain unavoidable activities (e.g. attending classes, sleeping, and the like) which I need do, and those which are commonly referred to as “spare time”. I define the latter in the following way: it is the time I use to do the things I either love doing or must do but which are not obligations per se, although whether I do them or not will drastically affect my near and/or not-so-near future. For instance, I use some of these hours for jogging, which keeps me fit. Studying during these hours becomes productive eventually – usually sooner than later. I also use these hours for recreational purposes, which I realize in novel reading, creative writing and guitar playing, among others. Hence, it seems that I can only control what I do in my “spare time”. The rest of the day is for my obligations which, as my friend wisely said and I wisely repeat, I must fulfill.
Once that was clear, what remained was the hardest part, as I needed to decide the best way to organize my time. Again, differentiation proved to be helpful, since one must ask oneself how much spare time ought to be spent, how much invested, and, above all, what is being spent on. Why I should say such a thing can be explained by the following reasoning. It seems to me that only life goals are worthy of the daily hard work and the time management they require. With that line of thought, I will not study to pass an exam. Instead, I will rather study to get a degree. Accordingly, I will not practice scales and drills on the guitar just to learn more notes on the neck, but to become a profficient guitarist. And jogging is not just to keep me fit, but also healthy. It has been my decision for a while now to have a must-do list for each day; one which includes all this sort of things, plus a couple more (praying and mass). Besides, – and I should add this also was given to me in the form of a strong advise – I carry with me a sheet of paper where to jot down both my daily accomplishments and failures, so that, at the end of the day, I may examine what I did well, what I could not do, and what I can improve. Lastly, here is a note of warning: too much work can be mentally unbalancing. In order to avoid this, I recommend taking breaks to find peace and quietness.
Therefore, if you usually end up in a situation where you wish you had done more work earlier, but at the moment it is too late, perhaps you should consider making a schedule. Hopefully, it will be as useful for you as it is for me.
 

Why English and American literature

One of the most vivid recollections from my early childhood is that of a colourful-illustrated Dr. Seuss’s book which my eldest sister, who spoke English amazingly well for her young age, had brought from a recent trip to the States. This was a book that she, yes, but not I, was able to read. I think it was this inability which urged me to learn this language, so that I could understand those words that, at that time, made no sense to me. But it was not until the age of ten, and after having insisted to my parents for some time, that I engaged English lessons at a local private institute. 
 
In the years to come I developed a taste for reading which – except for a brief lapse during my adolescence – grew finer in time like a good scotch. The bookshelves at home were well stuffed, a courtesy from my clever mother, and at school it occurred to my teachers that because most students handed in poor writing tasks and coud not read fluently, a stern reading scheme was in order. To this day I believe that to be the wisest decision they ever made.
 
It was not long before my English lessons started to pay off, and soon I was able to read stories and novels of American and English authors – from the shortened versions to the unabridged ones – in their original language. This I did and still do with great pleasure and, I should add, with a sense of privilege – it is not my intention to underestimate the invaluable work of translators, but I have always felt that a bit of the magic of the words (wether it is their mood, rhythm, strength, flow, or the way they sound when read outloud) is lost in the translation of a text.
 
Nontheless, there are some worries of mine as I sometimes turn over in my mind why I prefer reading foreign literature, and wonder if it is because I am not familiar with Argentinian’s. It is notable, however, and perhaps a bit ironic too, that reading poetry in English is the reason I have recently become interested in Borges, whose work I soon expect to grow intimate with.
 
In spite of this, I feel excited about what is to come. There are a lot of novels in my neighbourhood’s bookshop that seem worthy, so it appears that a lot of reading awaits. I feel confident that English as well as Spanish will prove to be a fit companion for this adventure.

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