With the fall semester at an end I finally have the time I need to work on my outstanding reading projects. At the top of my list has been clearing through my outstanding reading projects, and here I've fallen down on the task lately as I have allowed not one, but two due dates slip past.
So for the past week I have been working on paring down the stack. First up was Deborah Heckert's book on the revival of the English masque in the Victorian era, which was the book in which I had the least interest starting out. Fortunately the review there only had to be 180 words, so that one was wrapped up quickly. Next was Roger Branfill-Cook's encyclopedia of river gunboats. Frankly, I don't know what I was thinking when I offered to review that one, as I find encyclopedias annoying difficult to review. Nevertheless, after a couple of days of laboring over that one I had something respectable enough to submit, which took care of my overdue assignments. Review #3 was of Richard Steyn's study of the Churchill-Smuts relationship. This was the easiest so far to read and review, both because Steyn is a capable writer and because I was able to form a pretty solid opinion of it early on. The bar was highest for this one, though, as it's the one geared toward the widest audience and the editor prizes reviews that are engaging, but knowing what I wanted to say made it easy to generate the 700 words I needed to provide for this, which I sent off this morning.
And now I'm down to the last one: Steven Gray's book on the Royal Navy's coal supply networks in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. In one sense this is the most challenging of the four, as this is the first time I am reviewing a book for this outfit and I'm still working out how to meet their requirements. With this one, though I have the added incentive of a prize: the opportunity of over a week of self-determined reading. With luck that week will begin tomorrow; all I need is to finish the book and come up with 800-1,500 words about it. Fingers crossed!