ROMB and #BleakAlong Updates

It is hard to believe that we’re heading into Thanksgiving this week. It seems like it was just a day or two ago when I was able to dive into Read My Own Books and the #BleakAlong challenge. It’s actually been two weeks. Here’s a little about my progress:

I had hoped to work fast and furious through my own personal TBR pile from the moment I heard the RMOB starter pistol. That has not been the case. Reading has been slow going for me. Quite honestly, I needed the break. I have needed something in my life to be relaxed and without hurry. It does make sense for it to be the books I’m reading off my own shelves. Luckily, I’ve enjoyed both reads very much.

My first read was Arcadia by Lauren Groff. Her first novel, The Monsters of Templeton, was my very first ARC. I still vividly remember reading that book. I really loved it. I have been looking forward to her next novel ever since. Arcadia was such an interesting read. I’m still thinking my way through it, but what I found the most interesting was that the main character, Bit, was my contemporary. Our childhoods were so significantly different, but we have grappled with similar issues and have a similar outlook on reaching middle age. So, not only was his story itself engaging, it was like getting to know a classmate I’d never spent much time with while growing up at our reunion.

My second read was Me Before You by Jojo Moyes. I picked this ARC up at BEA. I suppose that it technically might not fit this reading challenge, but let me argue my point: 1) a tweep first mentioned this book to me well before BEA because she loved the audiobook. I would have picked it up on her recommendation, but it hadn’t been published in the US yet. Had she not mentioned it and had I not researched it, the ARC might not have even caught my eye. 2) I paid 100% of BEA out of my own pocket. While Penguin didn’t charge me for the ARC itself, I did pay to have it shipped to my house. Given the cost of shipping, I did in some ways actually pay to bring that book home. Did I win the argument? Well, it really doesn’t matter because this felt very much like a RMOB read to me. I love, love, loved it. I shed some of the most satisfying tears I’ve ever shed over a book as I finished this up. It will be published on December 31st. Buy a copy. It’s worth every single penny.

My current read is for my book club. Last month was our first ever meeting and we read and discussed Dare Me by Megan Abbott. We found it to be quirky but interesting read. Once I got into it, I couldn’t put it down. This month we’re reading something very different. It’s The House I Loved  by Tatiana de Rosnay. I’ve been interested in reading her work for a while now. I’m glad this is what we voted on to get my reading act in gear. I really need to read Sarah’s Key.


Believe it or not, I am exactly 13 hours into the Bleak House audiobook. While there are certain sections where I listen and wonder what in the world just happened (these sections tend to deal with legal proceedings and, I am quite certain, will tie together in the end), I am loving this read. Esther is a marvelous heroine and I love how she interacts with so many characters. She is noble and full of patience. Any of the people who meet her along the way should thank their lucky stars. There could be a no more compassionate soul. These same characters are what make this novel so very interesting. I forget just how perfectly Dickens populates his stories. Mr. Boythorn has got to be one of my favorite characters in recent memory. With him things are either hot or cold in the extreme and the way he expresses his thoughts and opinions continually makes me laugh. The Jellyby family is a sight to behold. I love every time Peepy Jellyby is mentioned. God bless his unsupervised soul.

The dialog is excellent and Simon Vance certainly makes it shine. I love the way he interprets Dickens’ writing. The scene where Mr. Guppy proposes to Esther had me sitting in my car until the end. I went back and read that scene in print and new that I wouldn’t have brought out so much life in Mr. Guppy’s plea on my own. Most recently, there was a scene with a poor boy Jo, Mr. Tulkinghorn, Mr. Skimpole, and Inspector Bucket that was a delight to the ear.

20 more hours with this story and this narrator is a blessing. I am interested to see what becomes of Esther. I hope she finds the greatest joy.


That’s my reading world in a nutshell. How’s your November shaping up?

Oh, don’t forget that Thankfully Reading kicks off on Thursday. Maybe I’ll make more progress during that event.


  • At 2012.11.20 08:52, bermudaonion(Kathy) said:

    My reading is slow right now too – there’s just too much going on.

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    • At 2012.11.20 19:56, Jennifer said:

      Luckily Thankfully Reading is right around the corner. I’m hoping to make some progress this weekend.

    • At 2012.11.20 10:02, Anita said:

      I have to admit timing played a part in my first RMOB, it’s just not working. Audio is great, and it’s an old one too. I’m reading an egalley…so not dong my thing…will get back to it.

      • At 2012.11.20 19:59, Jennifer said:

        You can make your own RMOB time. I’m planning on doing this off and on next year. I need to some how balance review books versus my own. The thing is that I want the review books I accept. It’s just the obligation that comes with it, you know.

      • At 2012.11.20 11:22, Sandy said:

        I am all about reading my own books. Every since James started his Double Dog Dare challenge a couple of years ago, this is what I try to do all the time, barring book club reads and things like that. But OMG my reading has been completely dormant, at least in print. The book I’m reading now has started off great, but I’ve read like 30 pages in a week. That is how bad it is. So now I am trying to figure out how to keep posting in December and not go dark. I’m thinking some cooking posts, my Best Of lists, blah blah. I listened to The House I Loved, and it wasn’t Sarah’s Key, but was historically significant and very short!

        • At 2012.11.20 20:12, Jennifer said:

          I hear you on slow print reading. This time of year doesn’t help.

          I wonder if the audio would help me with The House I Loved. It’s irritating the heck out of me. So much repetition. I just got off a Twitter rant about it. It is an interesting topic. I can’t imagine losing my house to widening streets for progress. Blah. I wish I could get over the irritating things that make my skin itch.

        • At 2012.11.20 12:37, Jennifer said:

          Arcadia was so interesting to me, very thought provoking.

          I read The House I Loved…is it awful that I don’t remember a ton about it? It was a pre-blogging days book for me. It’s so much easier for me to remember things about books now that I write about them 🙂 Yes, do read Sarah’s Key. That was also a pre-blog book but I haven’t forgotten it. (which says a lot in my opinion!)

          Thanks for bringing Me Before You to my attention, I’ll be looking for that one!

          • At 2012.11.20 20:14, Jennifer said:

            I’m not really digging The House I Loved. I could see how, if it didn’t irritate the crap out of you like it is me, that you’d not remember much of it. Such a great story idea. It just isn’t working for me.

            Never mind that. You MUST read Me Before You. It is incredible!!!!

          • At 2012.11.20 15:59, Beth @ Too Fond said:

            I’m glad to hear you’re enjoying Bleak House! I am as well, although some days I have better luck at concentrating on the audio than others. I’m getting ready to read Me Before You in the next month, and I’ve had Lauren Groff on my radar for a while…thanks for sharing!

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            • At 2012.11.20 20:19, Jennifer said:

              How far are you in Bleak House? I understand having a hard time concentrating in parts. I’m thinking those things will all tie together eventually. I have a feeling I’d be the same way in print.

            • At 2012.11.20 16:35, Marg said:

              I loved, loved, loved Me Before You! It will be one of my few reads to get top marks this year! So good!

              • At 2012.11.20 20:20, Jennifer said:

                Me Before You will be in my best of list this year. So darn good!

              • At 2012.11.27 17:58, Care said:

                My favorite listening of BleakAlong was the chapter that introduced the Smallwood family! Wow did Vance nail the voices and tone and innuendos! Poor grandma… But grandpa is horrid and no-way do I ever want to meet Judy. I now hear Vance’s voice just typing that word ‘Judy’ – he says it with a sneer every time.

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