Harper Collins, 2011

In March: The highlight of my reading month was all my girl-ish reading. Everywhere I look, it’s Girls Girls Girls. And it shows.

In non-fiction reading, with Peggy Orenstein’s Cinderella Ate My Daughter and Rachel Lloyd’s Girls Like Us.

Both of these got shelved on my World-Changing shelf on GoodReads because they have changed the way that I look at the world.

And in fiction, too: girls, girls, girls.

With Grace McCleen’s The Land of Decoration, which it seems everybody is chatting about.

With Katie Ward’s Girl Reading (which I’m reading with Danielle of A Work in Progress, though we’ve just read about half as of today).

And with Pamela Porter’s I’ll Be Watching, a novel in verse, perfect to discuss in April, which is Poetry Month of course.

But there were a few boys, too, with John Michael Cummings’ Ugly to Start With, Meg Rosoff’s What I Was, and John Green’s Looking for Alaska.

And there was a lot of bookish reading, largely inspired by Nathalie, including Patricia Meyer Spacks’ On Rereading, Mario Vargas Llosa’s In Praise of Reading Fiction, Leah Price’s Unpacking My Library (which I ended up enjoying even more than Nathalie did, I think), Alan Jacob’s The Pleasures of Reading in an Age of Distraction and, thanks to Melwyk, Bound to Last: 30 Writers on Their Most Cherished Book (which I’m still dipping into).

And I started this year’s installment of my Orange Prize reading project, although that’s off to a slow start indeed.

What I look forward to every year with this longlist is that I will discover at least one writer whose work wasn’t known to me before; last year I hadn’t heard of Anna Peile or read Samantha Hunt and both books were wonderful and challenging. What awaits in 2012?

Challenge Reading: Finished my second Chunkster, which took some doing, but not as much doing as it’s taking to keep up with Kristin Lavransdatter, whose page count seems to consign it to the bedside table more often than to my lap. I remain a chunk-ete in training.

And I joined one more un-challenge, unsurprisingly, Carl’s Once Upon a Time, though too late to include two introductory reads that would have fit beautifully or the Irish Fairy Tales that I read as part of Mel’s Irish Short Story event. (For Mel’s event, I also discovered Mary Lavin: she’s awesome!)

Other bookish events: Made my first set of guesses for The Morning News’ Tournament of Books, which were pretty spot-on (I guessed wrong on one, and was glad to be wrong with it, because as much as I enjoyed The Art of Fielding, I wanted to hear Open City talked about).

Inspired by the reading list, I managed to read 9 out of 16 of the contenders. (And a solid half of 1Q84, to which I’m still listening. Can I still say “reading”? Guess not, really.) No question: Helen DeWitt’s Lightning Rods will be on my list of most memorable reading experiences for this reading year.

Finally finished listening to this year’s Canada Reads debates in podcast format; I’d gotten seriously stalled between the first two and last two debates (perhaps overwhelmed by the tension that one panelist’s comments provoked, in accusing one author of having written a memoir which was fundamentally untruthful and calling another a ‘terrorist). In every other year, I’ve followed the action live, but not this year (and not because of this year’s switch to non-fiction, though at first I wondered if that’s what was niggling me).

In the end, I enjoyed listening more than I expected to, and even though, by now, I knew which book had won, I was still quite caught up in the process. And I do take to heart the idea that simply getting angry when alternate opinions are expressed is not as effective as continuing a discussion about those opinions. But ultimately I miss the spirit of the earlier series of debates. I miss the presence of writers and other bookish folks on the panel; I miss panelists reading out passages from the works and referring to other literary works in their defenses; I miss the sense of it being about all five books and not about the winnowing process. (Past years are now available for listening, too!)

So that’s March. (Notice I didn’t get to either the next Naomi Novik novel or the stack of magazines that I was dreaming about in last month’s update post!)

In April: I will finish my reading of The Odyssey, which has sprawled across half of February and all of March. I seem to need about three days between segments, even though I always intend to read one segment a day. (I think I need all the extra time to keep track of Athene’s many disguises!)

I will post on the first half of my Orange Season Reading. The shortlist is actually announced on April 17th, but I don’t plan to finish my longlist reading before then; no matter whether the books advance to the shortlist or not, I’m most interested in the longlist. In my imagined Orange-hued world, I make my own shortlist and award my own private Orange. (Here’s how last year looked for me.)

Challenges and Events: Beginning this Sunday, I’ll be posting regular updates for the Once Upon a Time un-challenge, with some talk of short stories and viewing, and whatever other books get squeezed into the reading weeks. First up? Eowyn Ivey’s The Snow Child and although part of me hates to add to the hype, I will do.

I didn’t get to re-read A View of the Harbour in time for Simon’s discussion of it this month, but I hope to squeeze it in late; next up in The Elizabeth Taylor Centenary is A Wreath of Roses, hosted by Fleur Fisher, which is a fresh read for me, and I’m quite looking forward to it.

My biggest challenge for April? Not a specific challenge, but catching up on some updating and following some links to other participants’ reading. For me, this is the most important part of challenges and events, but sometimes, when I get caught up in turning the pages, I lose track of this. It’s partly a time-thing, partly a priority-thing. One of those I can fix!

That’s all the print I’ve been buried in, all the print in which I plan to be buried in the next while: how about you?

How was your March? What about April is making your bookish mouth water?