Towards the end of March (2020), I came across the Queer Lit Readathon that happens every six months. This is a readathon that is meant to encourage reads to read LGBTQ+ books (i.e. queer books). I decided to participate because I had the time to fit in a couple books at the end of the month.
I choose to read The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde, The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller, and Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides. The audiobooks add up to ~40 hrs (20 hrs at 2x speed). It was a very ambitious goal. Going in, I managed to read the first two books (Dorian Gray and Song of Achilles) on Saturday, but by the time Sunday came around, I was distracted by Covid-19 stress and did not want to read. Therefore, I decided not to force myself to read Middlesex.
I will finish Middlesex this month (April 2020)! Below I’ll briefly discuss my thoughts on each book. However, I am also going to talk about one more book as well. I was granted an e-ARC of Female Husbands: a Trans History by Jen Manion which is published today (April 1st, 2020). I decided to include it’s review with this reathathon wrap up because it too is queer related and was read right after the readathon.
Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides
This is a historical fiction book about an androgynous person born with both sexes. He is raised as a girl until he eventually comes out as a man, and the book follows his fictionalized life starting with his parents. I started this on track to finish, and I was actually enjoying it. I thought the narrator was fantastic; he was enthusiastic and engaging. I just wasn’t in the mood to read, so I decided to hold off on finishing this book until after the readathon. I intend to finish it this month.
The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde ⭐️⭐️⭐️1/2
This is a classic horror or psychological book about a main named Dorian. He is young and loved by many for his beauty. We first learn just how enthralling he is at the start of the book when he is painted by a famous (?) artist who becomes enamored with him. The trick is bad things seem to happen to people around Dorian. It isn’t exactly him doing it, but it is a result of his own arrogance and self absorption. This begins to be reflected by the painting that was made of him. What unfolds is a dark and creepy tale.
I enjoyed this, but it wasn’t as scary as I was hoping. It also wasn’t the level of queerness I was hoping for; it was much more subtle. Perhaps the only reason it didn’t do better was the fact that it’s a classic, and they aren’t as effective for me as more modern works.
The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
I loved this book. It was just as beautifully told as Madeline Miller’s book Circe but with even more weight to it. Last year I read several Greek mythology retellings, among those was Circe. I enjoyed each of them, but they definitely did not look fondly on Achilles as a person or character. Nevertheless, Miller is able to write a story that convinces me that all of those past stories can be true, but hidden behind them, is still this man who is fundamentally good. Granted, part of that means seeing Achilles through the eyes of Patroclus, his friend and lover. This story is entirely from his perspective and is their story.
It was the queer side of the story that really resonated with me most of all. Circe was great all around, but it never hit me at my core, not like the Song of Achilles. I loved it and I highly recommend it.
Female Husbands: a Trans History by Jen Manion
This book was provided by NetGalley for a fair and honest review.
This book is not for me. It is a very detailed account of people in history who challenge preconceived assumptions on gender, with a focus on people considered “women” dressing and living as men. This isn’t what I was expecting as a trans history, but it is not my place as cisgender man to decide what that classification is. My issue with this book isn’t what it has to say, but with how it is said. This is a very dense and dry book. I think it is probably a great academic reference, but it it is not a good book for me.
I have DNFed this book at 45%. I normally would make a point to push through a book that has been provided for review, but it just wasn’t worth it because I wasn’t retaining the information. It is clear by the other reviews, that it works great for plenty of other people, so you may still get something out of it!
I also don’t consider this read a complete waste. Upon reading other reviews, there were a few other books of similar subject that I will be looking into.
Canada Reads is a yearly competition where 20(ish?) Canadian authors are selected to compete as the one book all of Canada should read. Those books are narrowed down to 5 to meet the years theme: One book to bring Canada into focus. This is clearly a very vague description, but I suppose it isn’t meant to be very specific. Still, the goal is to have them defended in a public debate setting. Note: the debates have been postponed pending the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.
A friend shared the announcement of this with me back in January. I had just started my YouTube channel, and I got super excited at the idea of doing a video about them! I’m a graduate student from the States living in Canada. I’ve been here for nearly four years, and I thought it would be fun to familiarize myself with more Canadian authors.
I decided to treat this like a “readathon” where my goal was to read them all in the first week of March. In the end, I think it took 8 or 9 days, but that was good enough! Above, you can watch my vlog of the experience where I discuss my thoughts as I read them as well as my overall thoughts on who I think should win. It was a fantastic experience. I loved all of these books, and I am so glad I decided to read these. Part of me worried that this type of literary competition might consist of very cerebral books that might be a bit taxing to read in one week (back to back). Overall, I don’t think they were.
I found most of these books to be very accessible and a delight to read. I’m going to provide a review of each below with some context as to how well I think they satisfy the “theme” of the year. Then I’ll do a final discussion of who I think should win at the end of the blog.
This is a story about a small town in Newfoundland (I think). It centers around a group of people who work or go to this restaurant in the town. The long and the short of it, this is a novel about toxic masculinity, gas-lighting, and other forms of mental and physical abuse. It touches on blame and mental health and the effect our actions have on those around us.
This was the hardest novel I read for this challenge. I found myself being as intrigued as I was infuriated. The writing was so weird and confusing at first. Coles uses the local dialect which is not the easiest to understand. I keep doubting that I read something the right way, and eventually I had to accept reading more causally, not fixating on every weird phrase and hope it comes together (which it did). I stopped noticing it eventually.
The structure is also weird. She essentially starts by focusing on our characters state of minds from the start. Except, she does it without any real context. We’re basically diving into a story midway, and we have to figure out what it is that’s going on. We eventually get the context. Although, it is a fascinating, if confusing, way of telling the story. Cole’s basically starts this by saying, this book is about the mental state and health of our characters. That is the most important aspect.
I really enjoyed the book. I gave it 4/5 stars, but that was a close call. It was actually the only book I considered giving less than 4 stars (spoilers for those reviews). However, I will say that it probably was the most thought provoking book because of how challenging it was.
This was a very fun read. It was a thought provoking set of science fiction novellas. The first is about a capitalist “dystopia” where the poorest pay even to use their own appliances. It was weird story that grew on me. It introduced me to Doctorow’s writing style (which is weird and I like it). The second (I think) was about a superhero (basically Superman) who basically tries to solve the problem of racism and police brutality. I thought this was a fantastic discussion of the idea of a “white savior” and the role of alleys today and in history. The third one was dark. It was a story about people who commit acts of terror against the healthcare system. This walked a fine line between critical critique of our healthcare system and encouraging acts of violence and fear to make change, which really bothered me. The last story was a dystopia about a plague of some sort. It is obviously very poignant given the news. I thought it was a great. It explored the power dynamic of that type of situation.
Overall, I gave this 4/5 stars. I really enjoyed the book, but it felt more American than it did Canadian. It seemed like a giant VOTE BERNIE SANDERS book. I don’t see that being relevant to Canadians. What’s more, even if this was for American’s, if we are looking to inspire a movement, we need a book that raise awareness and change minds. This book is great, but it is speaking to the choir. I don’t see this changing anyone’s beliefs. Does it really fit here? I think not.
Son of a Trickster is a fiction book about a young indigenous teen in an unstable home who begins to learn about his connections to his heritage. This is a fantasy contemporary book, and I loved it. Eden Robinson is herself indigenous, and I assume uses that to build the dynamic we see in the book. I thought was a good domestic story, and I was really intrigued by the mythological side as well.
Personally, I think this deserves attention. It isn’t just a fun read, it is educational. It brings attention to indigenous issues, but more importantly, it explores of one of the mythological story of the indigenous people. I don’t mean to assert this novel is a complete representation of indigenous people. However, I think it would be good for Canadians to be better familiarized with the culture of the people who were here before. One of the most fundamental traits of a culture is it’s mythologies or religions.
Overall, I think it is a great candidate and a great book. 4/4 stars.
I loved this memoir because I felt that I connected with it in a lot of ways. This is about a queer Muslim woman’s experience growing up in Pakistan before moving to Canada. This was a fantastic exploration of life as a woman in very conservative Muslim countries, but it also did a great job exploring what it must be like to be queer. I grew up in a much more privileged position than Habib. However, I too grew up queer in a very religious family. It creates feelings of doubt and confusion.
This is her story of finding peace in her religion. While I hold a much more negative view of religion, I did enjoy hearing her perspective as a queer woman trying to shape Islam to be what she needs it to be. This was also a story of acceptance, and again I found myself relating to her attempts to find acceptance from her family. Our situations are not perfectly aligned (obviously). Although, it was to the point that I was really able to connect with Habib’s story in a way that I could not for any other story. 5/5 stars
The last book is another memoir about the life of Jesse Thistle (the author). He is an indigenous Canadian who grew up in a broken home, and this story tracks his life as he tries to grow up with these struggles. It details how these have life long effects on the choices he makes and the places he ends up. This is a dark tale of drug abuse and homelessness, and I felt it was perhaps the most poignant story for that reason. Another thing that stood out to me was the presence of religion in his life. Never do we see him turn to religion, but it was the kind of redemption arc that is easy to believe happens. Although, I feel those types of stories miss out on the true struggle that the person has to go through to recover their life.
This is a full reveal of his life, and I can only imagine how taxing it must have been to reveal some of the things he discusses in this memoir. I really enjoyed it overall. My only complaint was that the writing wasn’t my taste. 4/5 stars.
Who should win?
When we think about which book all Canadians should read it becomes a very complicated question. I’ve already said that Radicalized is not focused on Canadian issues let alone told in a way that would be effective to get people in focus.
Small Game Hunting touches on a world wide issue that has only grown in recent year. That is, issues of gender, patriarchy, and rape culture. I thought it was fantastic. It was probably the most thought provoking, and it is the kind of thing that, even now, not enough people are thinking about. Sadly, I am again forced to ask the question on effectiveness. I thought this novel was difficult to read, and I am not convinced the majority of people would actually stick with it long enough to hear what it has to say. I think we need to focus on a book that every Canadian will consume (or are more likely to).
We Have Always Been Here is much more direct with its message. My issue here is a subjective one. I should be clear, I am no Canadian, merely a graduate student in Canada. What’s more, I am white cis gender male atheist. I am not one to decide which issue outweighs another. However, in my assessment, I don’t think Habib’s memoir brings attention to the area most in need. That is to say, religious and queer freedoms have made great strides.
Personally, I would narrow it down to Son of a Trickster and From the Ashes. I think Robinson’s book is a better book from a writing perspective. It also still focuses on indigenous issues as well as drug abuse (which, to be clear, I am saying is a shared theme between the books not necessarily in the entire community). It also touches on the concept of gender and sexuality in a way that From the Ashes does not. If I had to pick one Canadian to read, it would probably be Son of a Trickster. It is an immersive book that familiarizes Canadians with Indigenous mythology and some of the struggles they have to endure. It is the type of thing I feel would make great foundation for Canadians, perhaps in the classroom.
However, I have to address the fact that this year’s theme is “bring Canada into focus.” What I have done is make an assessment on what I think is most important for Canadians (again, I recognize this isn’t my place), but the theme does restrict exactly what it is they want to accomplish. While it is vague, I can’t help but gravitate to From the Ashes when I think about bringing Canadians into focus. Robinson’s work is the type of background material I think every Canadian should have about the culture that preceded theme. Still, for today’s issues, From the Ashes brings attention to poverty, homelessness, drug addiction, and more. For that reason, it seems like the clear winner.
My Kitchen: Book covering black mental health and/or disability
This was created for YouTube, but I’ve decided to do a blog post for it as well. Part of the reason I am doing that is because I also used this as my own reading challenge/readathon. The idea is you would pick a book to satisfy each challenge above, and I just used that as the framework for a readathon. Where instead of talking about books I had already read, I choose books too read that I thought would fit.
My goal was to read these 7 books over the course of one week. That didn’t actually happen. My initial plan ended up spanning ~2.5 weeks, and it led to me falling behind in my monthly reading plans. However, I still pushed through and finished the challenge. Below I’ll give a brief review of each book (rather than make a unique post for each.
Mirror Image: Cover recreation or homage
Lagoon was the first novel I read by Nnedi Okorafor, and I absolute loved it. This is the story of an alien visiting Earth in Legos Nigeria. The story was a unique take on the alien invasion/contact idea. What’s more, Okorafor makes use of the Nigerian culture to provide a compelling backstory outside of the main plot. Part of that was the connection of spirituality between our characters, the alien, and life itself. Sometimes, religion can be heavy handed in science fiction, but I thought it was handled well here.
Really the only flaws here was I didn’t absolutely love the characters. It wasn’t a major issue, but some of them were one dimensional. To be clear, I loved the book overall, and I highly recommend it.
Let’s Play White was one of my most anticipated books of 2020. It is a collection of horror short stories that explore race in a variety of different ways. That was the best part of this collection, but even with that new look a lot of these stories still felt unoriginal. What’s worse, most of them weren’t scary or creepy (with a couple exceptions). Most of them were just fine.
You might still consider reading this because I don’t think enough horror stories cover the topic of race. Plus, there are good stories, and those that aren’t so good aren’t terrible. I will still be keeping an eye out for more works by Burke because I’m hopeful that maybe her next work might be more consistent throughout.
I loved this book. When I first heard about this concept I was very intrigued. During the Jim Crow (1900’s) thousands (10s?) of black Americans migrated from the south to the north and west to escape segregation and racism. This is a story that does not get told. It is one of (if not the biggest?) migration of Americans in our history, yet it is ignored in our history classes.
That is probably because it reflects on the racism in this time and the harm it and segregation had on black Americans. Wilkerson follows 3 different families as she details these travels. They are meant to represent the different types of people that migrated and the experience they each had. I thought that approach worked really well. We got a diversity of views on how this migration can and did effect families, but it also gave us a few individuals to connect to directly to really relate.
The result is a compelling and fascinating read that I highly recommend to everyone.
Sadly, this was a very disappointment read. Angelou’s first two memoirs were poetic and moving, but her third memoir loses a lot of the charm. Her writing didn’t feel as poetic. What’s more, the story lacked much substance. I don’t want to dismiss her experience; she is still a single black mother trying to make a life for her and her son. However, the story focuses less on her relationship with her son than on a period of her life where she joins a traveling dance act.
It builds nicely on the last memoir where she explores her love of dancing, and the actual main story isn’t that bad. The issues I had was that it was still bland, and the ending felt abrupt. It ends with her leaving the job to return to her son. However, she never really touches on her feelings of being away. It felt like an excuse to change the story. It seems like the kind of thing that should be a more overarching theme. If it was there, clearly it didn’t stand out as a big part of the story.
There are still 3-4 more memoirs in her series, and from what I’ve read, this one is her worst. I’m hopeful for a return to her poetic style in books to come.
In the first book in Okorafor’s Binti trilogy of novellas, a Nigerian women leaves her home to explore what the galaxy has to offer. I really like this book. Okorafor is a creative science fiction writer who does a great job writing science fiction in a way that is accessible to pretty much anyone. Whats more, she’s written a character that is equal parts intelligent and curious. she makes for a fantastic and strong female protagonist. I can’t wait to read the rest of the books in the series (and her books outside it!).
Rating Break Down Writing Style: 9/10, Plot: 8/10, Characters: 8/10, Ending: 8/10, Engagement: 10/10, Enjoyment: 9/10, Comprehension: 8/10, Pacing: 8/10, Desire to Reread: 4/10, Special: 0/10, Calculated Rating: 3.91/5, Final Rating: 4/5 Note, each rating is weighted based on personal importance to calculate a final score that is rounded to the nearest half.
POSE: Black LGBTQIA+ author or character
This is a classic novel about a young black women who grew up with an abusive father then husband. As she slowly grows to learn more about herself she falls in love with anther women her husband and her are taking care of. It was a poignant narrative from a unique perspective. It’s also set in my home state of Georgia. However, I did struggle to connect with the story and stay engaged. I read this while traveling, and that may have effected how well I retained what I was reading. Overall, I enjoyed this novel.Update June 2020: I’m updating this to a 4 instead of 3.5 star.
Rating Break Down Writing Style: 8/10, Plot: 8/10, Characters: 10/10, Ending: 9/10, Engagement: 6/10, Enjoyment: 7/10, Comprehension: 7/10, Pacing: 7/10, Desire to Reread: 3/10, Special: 8/10, Final Rating: 4/5 Note, each rating is weighted based on personal importance to calculate a final score that is rounded to the nearest half.
My Kitchen: Book covering black mental health and/or disability
This book wasn’t what I was expecting. This is a memoir about a black man who grows up overweight. He eventually loses the weight, but we see how it shapes his mental state well into his adulthood (as well as the troubles associated with being a black man already). His story was profound and well told to boot. 4.5/5 stars.
Rating Break Down Writing Style: 9/10, Content: 10/10, Structure: 9/10, Summary: 8/10, Engagement: 9/10, Enjoyment: 9/10, Comprehension: 9/10, Pacing: 8/10, Desire to Reread: 5/10, Special: 7/10, Calculated Rating: 4.41/5 Final Rating: 4.5/5 Note, each rating is weighted based on personal importance to calculate a final score that is rounded to the nearest half.
This month I chose to participate in the January AYearAThon readathon where I read as many red covers, as I could, for one week. Now, I don’t intend to participate in the AYearAThon moving forward, but I like to participate in at least one readathon every month because it helps me read more. I chose this readathon because it seemed like an easy one too get invested in that covered a lot of the books I wanted to read (soon). The objective was pick books with a certain color on the cover, so I chose red. The rules technically said to read a cover of that color not with that color, but I allowed for a little wiggle room.
Overall this was a very successful readathon. I’ve read more books this week than I think I ever have before in a week (9). Of course, some of these are novellas, or just very short books, but even still, it was a challenge but one I thoroughly enjoyed. I went in with what I thought was a very ambitious goal, expecting to read 7 or 8 books. I had had a slow start to the month (year, decade!) and was hoping to get myself back into the swing of things. Once I started with my regular reading routine, I really got into it. By the end, I even threw in a 9th book!
This month I read If You Ask Me, by Betty White. I was very hesitant to read this one because as much as I love Betty White I wasn’t sure how much I would like it. In the end, I enjoyed it, but it was a little lackluster. I had an overall better experience with Robin by Dave Itzkoff. It was a fantastic book that I recommend to any Robin Williams fan. The next one that I read was Underland by Robert McFarland, and I was really excited about this one. Sadly, I was very disappointed by what I read; it just was not what I thought I was getting when I started it. Luckily that was really the only novel that severely disappointed me. Every other book I read I either loved or was at least glad I read it.
I read How We Know What Isn’t So by Thomas Gilovich. This is a book that I had on my TBR for a while because it is considered a standard book and the skeptic community. It’s about the fallibility of human reason, and I really enjoyed it. I was hesitant because these types of books about human bias and human psychology can easily be very esoteric and difficult to read. However, that was not the case. This one was written away that was very easy to consume, and I highly recommend it! A more esoteric book was be The Mismeasure of Man by Stephen Jay Gould. That one I enjoyed, but I did not much appreciate the way in which Gould structured the book.
In fiction, I finally read Scythe by Neal Shusterman. I added this one to by TBR at the last second because I had been so hesitant to read it. There are so many hyped YA books, and so far, I have really not loved them. Luckily, I gave this one a shot, and it is amazing. I haven’t been this excited for a series in a while. Another book that I read was the 4th book in the Earthsea Cycle, Tehanu by Ursula K. Le Guin. It was fine. I haven’t loved reading them, but I am trying to read one a month so as to get a full review of the series. I enjoyed it more than the others, but it still isn’t something I love. You’ll see my review of that sometime in the spring.
The last book I read (this isn’t in the order I read them) was Girls on Fire by Robin Wasserman. I read this one because I haven’t been reading a lot of general thrillers, and I wanted to tackle that section of my TBR. This was one of several books I bought after the positive review by Books and Lala, and while I trust her opinion, I’m finding it hard not to go off books that I am more excited for on my own than purely off her suggestion. Of course, there is a reason I trust her judgement! It did not fail me because I loved this book. It is a story about these teen girls who get into some drama, and I am here for it. I absolutely adored that book.
I read so many books part of me is worried I am leaving one off! This is the first time I created a readathon post after finishing it, but the holidays and January are such a busy time. You may have noticed, I attached a video at the top of this discussion. That is my first attempt at posting a video for Booktube! It is essentially me talking about the same stuff as here. I may or may not continue to do blogs and videos for the exact same content, but that is the goal!
I am so grateful to the leaders of the AYearAThon readathon. I had been having a serious slump this month from the traveling followed by the flu for a week. I was getting really disheartened about reading, but now I leave this week with 9 new books and a renewed vigor. I was shocked I read so many nonfiction, but I suppose those are the ones I wanted to read. I think I owe some thanks to Olive at abookolive for being one of the key people getting me inspired about nonfiction. Overall, I loved this readathon! I would say it was a real success not just in quantity but specifically in the quality of books that I read.
It’s the most wonderful time of the year, with the kids jingle belling and everyone telling you: be of good cheer! What a terrible way to start this blog, but I can’t help myself. It’s the holidays again! On that note, I have decided to participate in the Very Marry Readathon. This is a very loosely Christmas themed readathon with a series of 5 challenges to meet. It is happening December 15-21 which is okay timing; it isn’t too early and I suppose not during Xmas is good too.
I don’t think the challenges are very difficult. In fact, I am a little disappointed at how easy they are and that there are only five of them. Because of that, I’ve decided to try and complete multiple books for each challenge. I am going to start by listing the challenges, and before I discuss the books I will read for that challenge, I am going to give a list of what I intend to read. Most of these books meet multiple prompts, so it will probably be easiest to discuss that way.
Read a book set during the holidays.
Read a book with a Christmas/holiday color on the cover.
Read a book with S-N-O-W in the title (or the authors name).
Read a book by the fire.
Read a book just because you want to!
Mr. Dickens and His Carol 271 pages, 4.21 hrs
A Christmas Carol 238 pages, 1.5 hrs
The Afterlife of Holly Chase 400 pages, 5.27 hrs
The Book of Lost Things 339 pages 5.79 hrs
Watership Down 478 pages, 9.21 hrs
The Silence of the Girls, by Pat Barker 336 page, 5.66 hrs
Woman on the Edge of Time (Maybe) 417 pages, 7.9 hrs
Before the Coffee Gets Cold 208 pages, 10.5 hrs
Total Reading Goals: ~50 hours and 30 minutes, 2687 pages
These times are adjusted for 1.9x reading speeds (except for #8 which I intend to read physically and approximate by page count and my reading speed).
1. Read a book set during the holidays.
This is the prompt that really makes it Christmas themed. I am very excited to be reading the Afterlife of Holly Chase. The only reason I haven’t read it sooner was because I knew I wanted to read it in December. A Christmas Carol is my favorite Christmas story; I love it! The Afterlife of Holly Chase is a take on that story following a woman who never followed the advice of her three ghosts. I don’t know if it is going to be a very good book, but I feel pretty confident I’ll enjoy it, at least in part, for its concept. In the same train of thought, I am reading Mr. Dickens and His Carol which is the story of how Dickens came to write A Christmas Carol (fictionalized). I am also going to reread A Christmas Carol again. I recently found the Classics Illustrated hardback edition, and I’d love to listen while I read through it.
2. Read a book with a Christmas/holiday color on the cover.
This is, I think, too easy. They consider this red, gold, white, green. Honestly, if I was making this a rule, I’d make it so red and green both had to be on the cover, but it isn’t. In any case, I have several books that easily meet this criteria (of red, gold, etc.). The Book of Lost Things is red and white. This is a book I was planning on reading this month anyway! The Afterlife of Holly Chase is red and maybe gold, and A Christmas Carol also apply’s here. Pretty much all the Christmas Carol related books work here, including Mr. Dickens and His Carol. If I have time, I will also read Woman on the Edge of Time which also gold and red.
3. Read a book with S-N-O-W in the title.
This means I can read any book that has the letters needed to spell SNOW in the title, and it also includes author names. I thought this was an easy one, but I am realizing now it is actually harder than I realized. I am going to read Watership Down which is another book I wanted to read this month anyways. This is a classic, and I’ve just heard such great things. I had another book I wanted to read here but decided to replace it with other books of interest. I’ve already mentioned Woman on the Edge of Time. I got excited for it initially because I thought it had S-N-O-W. Sadly, it is missing the S.
4. Read a book by the fire.
Because I am going to be listening to audiobooks for almost all of the others, I am going to make this read a physical book by the fire (virtual or otherwise). I am going to read Before the Coffee Gets Cold (because it doesn’t have an audiobook, at least where I can get it). This copy is actually in the States with my mom (I live in Ontario Canada), and I won’t have it until the last 2 or 3 days of the readathon. It’ll be a fun added challenge to do it over two or three days (as opposed to pacing myself and reading throughout the week).
5. Read a book just because you want to!
Most of these meet this category as it is. Although, I am going go further and to aim to read The Silence of the Girls. I really wanted to read more books, but I just don’t have the time. Then the Silence of the Girls comes fresh off of A Thousand Ships which inspires me to read more Greek mythology retellings. In fact, it follows another female character featured in A Thousand Ships (i.e. the Trojan War). Woman on the Edge of Time and A Christmas Carol are two more books I am reading just because I want to.
I’ve created a TBR of 8 books (with a few more in mind if I have time), but several of them are short. I actually cut out two books because I knew I wouldn’t have the time. It isn’t the end of the world if I don’t finish my TBR, but it still is stressful which is why I trimmed it down. I haven’t decided on a fixed schedule. Although, I definitely want to start with the Christmasy books (Holly Chase, Mr. Dickens, and Christmas Carol).
Unfortunately, this wasn’t a great week for reading. Well, it wasn’t bad. I finished all but two of my books, which is still 5 novels. I don’t know if they all satisfied the challenges. I don’t think I ever read by firelight. Maybe I listened to an audiobook with a candle in the background. That is okay though. I finished several books, and I am still finishing Before the Coffee Gets Cold. However, I dnfed Watership Down. I just wasn’t getting into it. I do think that was almost entirely situational, so I still completely intend to return it. I just decided it wasn’t the right time. It was a highly anticipated read, so the fact that I wasn’t connecting made me want to stop and reread it without the rush.
I left this feeling disappointed, but this is my fourth month doing a readathon. I knew I would probably push myself too hard eventually. That is okay! I still read a good bit of books. I just really underestimated how time consuming the holiday season would be from traveling, to visiting with family, to end of semester grading and work.
Buzzwordathon is a series of readathons that chooses common buzzwords used in book titles. Then readers choose books with that buzzword and tries to read as many as possible. The goal of this readathon is to read books you have been putting off, but most of my choices are new books I’ve wanted to read. It’s happening November 18-24.
The only books here that I have owned for a while is the Thirteenth Tale. I have been pushing it off because I am not a fan of Victorian settings, but I love the concept of the book. The others are books I’ve heard great things about on Booktube. A Thousand Ships is the only book I will be physically reading. It is decidedly longer than White is for Witching which I read last month for Spookathon. I am eager to read it, and this is the perfect excuse!
I am a little worried about the size of the list. This is about 300 more pages than I read for spookathon, but my estimate is it will only take ~6 more hours of my time. It is okay if I don’t get to the last book or if I have to finish it after the readathon ends. I feel confident in my ability to read the first 6. Last time I estimated my listening and reading was ~49 hours. With my physical read being a bit longer, I estimate this to take ~52 hours. It’s more but still manageable. I also read two 500+ page books for Spookathon.
Honestly, it was really hard to pick books for this. It isn’t a buzzword for no reason. I wanted to read Slaughterhouse Five because that is a classic I’ve been putting off merely due its revolving around war which I am not a big fan of. I also considered both The Fifth Season (a reread) and The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms because I’ve been wanting to try give N. K. Jemisin another try after not really loving The Fifth Season.
Then there’s The People’s Future: 15 stories about the future of the United states which features a lot of diverse authors I’ve been wanting to give a try, but I ended up dropping that for the same reason as The Three Body Problem. I think I will enjoy those more if I give them more time. I think I am more likely to get through more reading if I limit myself to a majority of fun quick reads that don’t too much thinking. Not that I don’t want that, but there is a balance!
End of Readathon Commentary
This was a fairly enjoyable readathon. It got me to try a few books I didn’t feel all that excited for. I still feel iffy about Taylor Jenkins Reid, but I really enjoyed Evelyn Hugo. I didn’t think I’d love Evelyn Hardcastle, but that was massive fail. I really disliked it. The others were good, but most none of them became all time favorites. That’s excluding Dear Ijeawele which was great, but in a different way.
My stats come in at a total of 2335 pages of reading. 1983 pages of that was on audio, and 352 pages was read via my hardback copy. I’m a PhD student, so my time is limited. That means most of my reading has been done via multitasking (travel, chores, tedious tasks). One day, maybe I’ll try a readathon without a single audiobook.
I may not be so aggressive on my next readathon because I did struggle in the end. Although, I think part of that blame lies on the low quality of Evelyn Hardcastle. I at least had the forethought to place it last in my reading plans, but I need to work on allowing myself the freedom to DNF a book. Overall, this readathon got me to try new things and read a book I had put off a very long time. Plus my read pile for November just doubled!
Discussing my TBR
A Thousand Ships by Natalie Haynes
I’m really exited to read this! Of course, I am excited for all of these, but I am glad I am reading this one physically. It was not my plan originally. It is only availble on CD and at ~$40 USD, so I decided this would be my physical read of choice. It’s length is daunting. That is okay because I think I am really going to enjoy it assuming the writing style isn’t too out there.
This is the story of the Trojan War, told from the perspective of the women that are largely ignored in the Greek myths. I enjoy greek and roman mythologies, but it isn’t a big thing I read about. Hopefully, this and Circe will change that (as well as Jean Bookishthoughts who studies ancient history and has lots of recommendations).
This is a fictional story about a band in the 70s or 80s and their experience. It is supposed to be an emotional roller coaster which isn’t something I usually seek out in books, but I am here for it. This book has gotten so much praise on Booktube. It is probably the most talked about book on Booktube. No pressure Taylor Jenkins Reid! I’m sure I’ll enjoy it; the question is: will it make me love it?
This book has been on my shelf for so long. I even bought it on Audible way back hoping I’d read it. In the end, I never did out of fear of for the Victorian setting. Now I have the perfect excuse to choose it despite my hesitation. To be clear, I love the concept: a story about stories and books. It is very similar to Setterfield’s most recent novel, Once Upon a River which I struggled with but loved overall. I hope the same is true for the Thirteenth Tale.
I choose Once Upon a River originally to be during this readathon, stretching “once” as a number, but my hesitation for her Victorian settings couple with its near 500 page count motivated me to read it sooner. I am glad I did! I think I am really going to enjoy it if it’s anything like Once Upon a River.
This is a semi post-apocalyptic story about people preparing to go to space to survive. That is all I know. I am reading this because BooksandLala loved it. I tend not to like high science fiction, and I think this type of moderate science fiction is what I like. The story was a nominee for several awards. Plus, my one of my favorite books this year was a semi-apocalyptic story about getting to space (Calculating Stars).
You can now see my review of Station Eleven! Also, it turns out this wasn’t about space. I was way off on that one.
The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid
This is a story about a woman who had a lot of husbands. Booktube says it is well told, so I think it will be a fun contemporary read. Again, like Reid’s other story, it isn’t what I normally read. However, I think I’ll enjoy it. I don’t have this in my picture above because the copy I bought was in the US and sent it to my mom’s to save on shipping. I’ll be listening to the audiobook, so it doesn’t matter anyways.
Dear Ijeawele, or A Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen Suggestions by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
There are a lot feminist collections I’d like to read. I just haven’t for whatever reason. I almost didn’t include this one because I hate the idea of rushing through it, but it is very short and likely not that much work. I also want to read Roxanne Gay. If I don’t get to her soon, I’ll definitely be including her in my February Black History Month TBR.
The 7½ Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton
This is my lowest in expectation. I want to read this because the concept sounds intriguing. I love time travel and time resets. There is nothing special about as far as what I’ve seen. It’s just a book I think will be fun, but if I have to drop a book, or finish one later, it will be this one.
I’m tired I say. I need a break I say. Come back the next day…LETS DO ANOTHER READATHON!
I already discussed the books I’d like to read this month in my monthly updates, but I came across this page of readathons, and I can’t help but want to do a month long readathon for October. I already am doing my own challenge of reading Halloween themed books, so why not take it a step further. It’s undeniable that these challenges make a great motivator. Sure, I am doing #spookathon, but that is only a week. These are month long goals. No reason I can’t use the #spookathon to do this too!
The #ToTathon is a month long readathon themed around Halloween. Participants will earn points for their teams by reading and completing challenges. Points will be awarded 1 point per page. Participants can also earn points by completing challenges. I will stick with reading a couple anthologies and a few physical books if possible. What I want to do now is think about what I can read for the challenges.
Reading Challenges: 25 pts each – Cannot be combined.
Costume Party: Read the group book: Coraline by Neil Gaiman
This isn’t a long book, so I may read it (no commitment though). But wait, I get a cheat! I am subbing Something Wicked this Way Comes by Ray Bradbury for this read.
Spooky Hayride: Read a book that involves a trip or quest
I can’t think of anything for this or anything that I am interested in reading, so I may skipping this one. That said, a fantasy novel that isn’t strictly horror I could read is Viscous by V.E. Schwab. This is a book I really want to read. It isn’t strictly a road trip, but two friends turn enemies battle it out, each set on a mission (i.e. QUEST).
Corn Maze: Read a book where someone gets lost and/or finds themselves
This is a tough one. I think the closest thing to fit this is going to be Kindred, the graphic novel, by Octavia Butler. I could do Summer of Night by Dan Simmons which as a coming of age story, that ought to count as “finding” oneself.
Spider Webs: Read a book that gives you the heebie jeebies
I don’t have a hard choice for this. I could choose Fearful Symmetries. Is it a cheat if I already started it before this? Yes. That won’t work :(. Instead, I will use The Dark by Ellen Datlow or A Head Full of Ghosts by Paul Tremblay
10/3/19: I am half way through the Dark. I really don’t want to finish this. I’ve read half the stories and have liked one of them. That said, I am only half way and I want the points… It makes me somewhat annoyed at the challenge
Scary Movie: Read a book and watch the movie/tv show adaptation
I think I will read We Have Always lived in This House or reread The Haunting of Hill House both by Shirley Jackson. The former has a new film, and the latter is being released in extended edition (which I want to watch!).
BOO!: Post a pic of your favorite spooky book (Oct 19 – 25)
TBD (It will be IT obviously)
Costume Time: Post a pic of yourself dressed up as a literary character (Oct 26 – Nov 1)
Easy! I’ve got so many costumes. TBD
This is the reason I had to switch to Witch/Wizard team rather than Ghosts. Each team has a trick and a treat. Ghosts can start 3 days early (I am too late for that), and they have to read it in order that they are listed above. That makes it hard to do this and the #spookathon. Therefore, I choose Witch. I have to read a book more than 500pgs (the Institute by Stephen King), and I can change any of the challenges to any book of my choice. Right now, I am changing the first prompt from Caroline to Something Wicked this Way Comes by Ray Bradbury.
Update 10/17/19: I’m not sure if I’m feeling the last two books on my TBR. They aren’t for any challenge. I may throw in Caroline instead, or I may do that and these! I’m going to have nearly 2 weeks of reading to do. I’m getting Harry Potter Illustrated. Maybe I’ll read those (or rather, continue my HP reread).
Update: 10/21/19: I think I may skip A Head Full of Ghosts and Coraline. I’ve cued up my TBR for next month, and there are a lot of books I want to read but don’t have time for. I’m going to use the rest of this month to start those! A Head Full of Ghosts was always a maybe option anyways. I didn’t expect to finish all of these so fast! I’m going to start with Middlegame because it’s getting so much hype from BooksandLala.
Its scfi-fantasy adult fiction which seems perfect for me. It’s also the same author who wrote the Wayward Children series of novellas that have been on my TBR. They’re also hugo and nebula winners. Then there is Once Upon a River by Diane Setterfield. She wrote The Thirteenth Tale which has been on my TBR for so long. I didn’t realize that when I bought this one. I decided to read it for the upcoming Buzzwordathon next month with numbers in titles. There ended up being a lot of other books I wanted to read with numbers in the title (including the Thirteenth Tale), and Once was a stretch for a number anyway. Plus this is nearly 500 pages which is a lot longer than I should try to read for a readathon. More on that readathon to come! Point is, I got excited for this book and bought it, so I want to read it sooner rather than later. I don’t want to risk it becoming like The Thirteenth Tale.
Finally, I bought the Ursula K Leguin’s Earthsea collection in a giant illustrated edition. I need to read this since I bought it. I am going to try hard to get this one done this month; it isn’t long! I just hope I like it since there are 6 more.
Update: 10/21/19: I am done with Once Upon a River and Middlegame. I have less than an hour left on Wizards of Earthsea. I don’t think I will get to Every Heart a Doorway, but I haven’t given up yet! As for the challenges, I don’t think I will be doing the last two. I have other things to worry about, and they aren’t worth a lot of points. Honestly, I struggled to update my pages. I like the reading challenges, especially if I need help choosing books, but it is a lot to keep up with. I think I’ll stick to a weekly readathon.
Update 10/31/19: I didn’t finish Maya Angelou’s book or get to Kindred, but that’s okay! I finished 14 others. This includes novellas and 5 from Spookathon, but all in all I am thrilled. I think I read more this month than I did last year (or most years of my life).
All in all, this was a success, but I don’t think I’ll do a month long readathon anymore. It is too much logistics. I have what I want to read. I’ll do that until I have trouble choosing.
I have recently come across Booktube, which I will discuss when I make my end of month update. Long story short, it has opened my eyes to just how large book world is online. One of my recent encounters was with a video discussing this thing called Spookathon that I was interested in participating in. Essentially, its 7 days where a group of booktubers are going to try to read 5 books, one that fits each of these categories:
A book with red on the cover
A book with a spooky word in the title
A book with a spooky setting
A book you don’t normally read
Can I actually do it?
I love this idea, so I want to think whether or not this is something I can do. By the end of this month, I think I may clock in at 10 books read in the last 2 months. That number along shocks me and makes me seriously wonder what I would be capable of achieving over 12 months. Still, that’s 5 in a month, on average. Could I actually read 5 in one week? I am not sure if I physically have the time, motivation aside. Last I check, I read ~10 pages in 30-40 minutes, of a mass paperback. Say 300 x 5, 1500, assume 10 per half an hour, and we are at 150 half hours or 75 hours, or 15 hours per book.
Actually, that isn’t as bad as I thought it would be, but I would be doing most of my books on audio anyway. Fledgling is about 12 hours, and 300 pages. I’m listening to that at 1.3 speed, knocking it down to 9 hours or so. Lets be conservative and say I can work with whatever speed gets me down to an average of 10 hours per book. 50 hours, one week. That isn’t impossible in theory. Even assuming I was a good grad student, worked 40 hours, a 90hr work week is a bit much, but people do it. Realistically, we are talking a 50-70hr work week if I were to succeed.
Step 2, check my schedule. The 14th is the Canadian Thanksgiving, and it just so happens to be the first day of the marathon. That is also the week of the Lab Midterms. That means I have to do grading that weekend. The way this class is set up, there are very few weeks where I have to grade, so this is bad timing. Still, it isn’t a deal breaker. It probably won’t even take up as much time as I would theoretically get from having monday off (as grad student, is it really off though?). All in all, it feels manageable, so lets get down to brass tacks.
Assume I read 2 hours in the morning (wake up, get ready, bike to school), no reading at school (conservative), ~1hr leaving and getting home. Lets say I leave at 5 (reasonable). I listen the entire time and continue when I get home until midnight. 7hrs, decent time for bed. That is 9 x 4 + 16 x 3 (assume read 8 to 12, no rest monday, and weekend). 36+48 = 84. Enough time. It is doable. Will I enjoy it? Will I be able to focus on the book? How much of this depends on the books I choose? These are all very relevant questions I don’t know the answer to, but suppose I can. Suppose my ability to get through books vastly exceeds my expectations. Imagine the books I can through for the next 4-6 decades of my life. 5 in a week? Then of course I can do 5 in a month; compare that to my 10 or so per year, the last few years. #lifegoals.
Okay, I’m doing this. So what am I going to read?
1) A Thriller: The Institute by Stephen King
I am not a big thriller fan, but I love horror. I could make an argument for horror fitting into thriller, but it feels like cheating if Goodreads doesn’t explicitly say Thriller. Lucky for me, The Institute is listed as both. In addition, I haven’t read many of Stephen Kings newest novels since 11/22/63 (which I’ve reread a lot). Scratch that, I read Under the Dome. I loved it at the time, but I think I saw it through rose colored glasses. I’ve come to recognize now King isn’t a god; not all of his books are worth reading. The mediocrity of Under the Dome has made me more hesitant to pick up his newest book. Whats more, I am trying to really diversify what I read. I don’t have the time for filler (not that all my selections or the cream of the crop despite how I try). I have heard some good things about this, but it can be hard to weed through all those readers who also see King through rose colored glasses. Even if this isn’t in Kings top 10, I know it ties into the King Universe rather well, so at least I’ll have that.
2) A Book With Red on the Cover: The Ancestors, by Brandon Massey, Tananarive Due, and L.A. Banks
This is harder. I could easily and happily say IT by Stephen King. Red, creepy name, creepy place (Derry). It isn’t new, and it feels like cheating. I am not going to do another Stephen King, even if I haven’t read it. I read the Cabin at the End of the World, so that’s a no. One of the things I learned from Booktube is how bad I need to read Vicious, by V.E. Schwab, but this isn’t thriller or horror. It’s Spookathon for a reason.
I am looking to read The Ancestors, a collection of novellas by Brandon Massey, Tananarive Due, and L.A. Banks. This is one I found when looking for black horror writers, but I am considering using this for something I don’t usually read. Sure I am reading Due’s The Good House, but one book doesn’t make a pattern. It is, however, a book with a red cover. In the same line of thinking, there is The Icarus Girl by Helen Oyeyemi or Dark Dreams, a collection of short stories by black writers, edited by Brandon Massey. My biggest issue with these is that I selected these to push the boundary of what I read, and I fear it may take me time to get into them in a way that may slow me down, or worse, turn me off to them. Still, I am inclined to read one of Massey’s collections. Both are ~300pgs, so I tentatively plan for The Ancestors since it’s only 3 stories. Hopefully, it will be easier to get invested into 3 stories rather than a bunch of short stories (which I find I need to pace myself).
3) A Book With a Spooky Word in the Title: Summer of Night, Dan Simmons
First off, let me say, this category is confusing or hard to figure out what fits. I am going with a word or phrase that is creepy or spooky. I googled words that are creepy, but it feels so arbitrary. Some titles have creepy phrases some don’t. Dark Dreams could work here, but like I said, I don’t want to go too far into experimental and risk losing energy. I already picked King, but a King like substitute might be Summer of Night, by Dan Simmons, book one of the Seasons of Horror series. Sure, I may be stretching the spookiness, but I think the phrase is ominous enough to justify it belonging here. Tthink of The Long Night described in GOT or Children of Night, in Dracula; night makes things spooky. The biggest reasons against this is it is 22hrs (600 pages!). Listing at 1.3 can get me to ~17hrs, which is a bit high, but doable. Some books I can only do 1.2 without being bothered, but even then its ~18hrs. I don’t want to rule it out just yet, but if I finish this list and find myself way over budget with my time then I will reconsider. The reason I want to do this is because I know its a well known horror series by an author I’ve never read. This hasn’t been a priority because I am really trying to cut back on the number of white guys I read especially since there are other authors I know who have books I want to read (King included). However, this a 7 day binge of 5 books. I think it evens out.
I do want to mention some back ups in case I need to reconsider this slot. Dark Dreams, obviously still an option, half the size of this one. Obviously, I could speed through it faster than Simmons. In addition to not wanting to lose steam, I really don’t want my first experience with all these authors be rushed or feel like an assignment. I want each of them to have a chance to impress me. The Devil in Silver, by Victor LaValle is a novel by a black man that I think I learned about in a bootube video. It is in my to be read (TBR) list, but I don’t remember a lot about it. It says it’s set in an insane asylum. Maybe that is better suited for the next category. I could do a classic. Lagoon, by Nnedi Okorafor is a fantasy, science fiction alien story. This isn’t a thriller or a horror novel, but there is something about an alien story that feels fitting for this type of readathon. A couple other options are Demon Theory (which is also an unusual book, i.e. better for #5) and Mongrels, both by Stephen Graham Jones. I am more likely to read Mongrels because its a more straight forward book.
4) A Book With a Spooky Setting: Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury
The Devil in Silver, by Victor LaValle is a strong contender here, set in an asylum. If this were a strict set of rules I might pick it, but there is another I have been dying to read. Something Wicked This Way Comes, by Ray Bradbury about a satanic carnival that comes to town. It doesn’t fit as well, but I feel the carnival should work as a spook setting. I have never read this. I feel as if I can’t call myself a horror fan without adding this to my read list. Plus, I expect it will be a fun quick read (293 pages). Another option is We Have Always Lived in the Castle, by Shirley Jackson. This is a classic set in a haunted house. I’ve read Hill House, but not this one. My line about Something Wicked being essential definitely fits Jackson’s work as well. It is also very short. This may change, but I think I will just read Jackson’s story before the Spookathon. The Spookathon is actually taking care of a couple books I had lined up to read for Halloween which frees up my normal routine reading time (it’s more of a novella anyway).
5) A Book You Don’t Normally Read: White is for Witching, by Helen Oyeyemi
I am going to try reading a physical book (or ebook) of White is for Witching, by Helen Oyeyemi because this is a fantasy, horror, paranormal book that I came across that I want to read that is sadly not on audio. That makes this book a perfect example of a book I don’t usually read. That is coupled with Oyeyemi being a young black woman horror/fantasy writer. Part of the reason I chose not to go with The Icarus Girl was because I knew I wanted to read this. Assuming I read at the same rate I mentioned above, this will take ~12hrs. That is manageable, I just won’t be able to multitask as well. I definitely want to start here, I think that Monday so I can really try and dig in. My follow up, will be Kindred, the graphic novel. I have read Kindred, but I recently bought the graphic novel and would love to read it. Needless to say, I don’t often (as in never have I ever) read a graphic novel. If all else fails, I go to Gone Girl. Your classic thriller which I am sure I will love. I just never read it, even as it is on my TBR because I don’t often go for strictly Thriller novels. I won’t be happy if that’s where I end up, but I want to kill it at this challenge which means I need to be prepared for bumps in the road.
I also want to plug Chesya Burke’s Let’s Play White which is a collection of short stories in fantasy, science fiction and horror. Burke is also a young black author. The book is nearly 50 pages shorter, but in the end, I am more intrigued by Oyeyemi’s book. I would like to try this collection out eventually too. I may give this a shot leading up to the Spookathon.
Preparing for whats to come
I got a copy of White is for Witching from bookoutlet.ca (thanks to @BooksandLala for constantly mentioning this bookstore). It is the paperback, which I prefer hardback. Plus this cover isn’t as nice as the one above. If I end up loving it, I’ll probably get it on hardback. The others are on audio, and I can get either on audible with existing credits or through other resources. I am also buying physical copies because I want a copy of what I read, especially if I get the audiobook from special sources.
*assumes I have the endurance for reading a physical copy as I do for listening to an audiobook.
In total, this will take ~60 hrs hours if I am lucky. For the audiobooks, worst case I lose an hour because I need to back up to 1.2 normal speed, but at 1.3 speed I am saving ~10 hrs. If I can keep the strict schedule of continuous listening, I feel confident I can make it through the books. It leaves me 24 hrs to spare. Even if I take twice as long to finish White is for Witching, that leaves another 12 hours to spare (aka write, tweet, and follow others doing the challenge.
10/13/19 – One more day
It is nearly 3 am, and I’m up preparing for my blogs to come over the next week! I am so excited. In particular, I am excited to read White is for Witching. I just really hope I have the attention span to finish this in a week. I still haven’t finished Maya Angelou’s second autobiography when I should be. It’s all about time management. I think I am ready because since I set this up, I’ve got into listening at 1.8 x speeds. That means I am going to save a lot more time on the other books.
10/15/19 – Chug, Chug, Chugging along
10/17/19 – White is for Witching Done. Summer of Night almost there
I finished White is for Witching. I gave it 4.5/5 stars. I read this as a book I don’t normally read. It fit that category in several ways 1) not an audiobook, 2) considered literary and definitely confusing in structure, 3) a woman of color horror writer. I discuss this in my review, but I had an amazing experience reading a physical copy again, at least toward the end. I won’t lie, it felt like a chore at first. It was daunting. Large parts of it I narrated out loud to help keep myself focused. I am not sure if I have that kind of patience to keep that going. That said, I also appreciate that it just takes time.
If it is a good book, it’s time I might otherwise be spent watching TV or wasting time on Facebook. I am currently reading the second autobiography in Maya Angelou’s series via a physical book. I have been reading it for at least a month. I started with a chapter a day. Then I read it for pleasure for a couple hours one weekend. Then I just stopped for a couple weeks and it sat. I feel like I can do better. I enjoyed reading with a cup of coffee at Starbucks these past two nights. Perhaps I can dedicate a night each week for such a thing. At the very least, a book a month seems reasonable. If not for the joy of reading a physical book, then for the risk of missing hidden gems like White is for Witching that isn’t on audio.
I wish I had as many great things to say about Summer of Night. I’m nearly 2/3rds through the book with ~3 hrs left. It isn’t as emotionally satisfying as White is for Witching. I don’t feel all that invested, but there isn’t much left in any case. It is very long, and it makes me worried for King’s The Institute. I’m already feeling fatigued. Which sucks.
I finished Summer of Night and started The Institute and Ancestors. I’m over half way through the former and over 1/3 through the later. Luckily, the first story was the longest. It was also better than I expected based on reviews. The Institute still has over 4 hrs, add on ~5hr for Something Wicked and probably a couple more hours for Ancestors and that leaves me with ~12 hrs. My birthday being today, yay me, means I’m hanging with friends today and tomorrow. That will make this difficult, but with 2 days, I think I can make ~6hrs a day work. Even if I can’t, this is for fun! Who care is I have to spend an extra day to finish up.
I am enjoying this. Summer of Night was the only disappointment, and that’s mostly because it was so long and so “okay”. I think when this is done, I may begin some non Halloween stories. I’m ready for a chance, and a little eager to start my TBR for next month.
I spent as much of Saturday as I could trying to get through Something Wicked this Way Comes. My birthday was on Friday, so I was busy at least part of each day this weekend. Luckily, I knew that was going to happen, so I stayed up until 4 AM Friday night to finish the Institute. Luckily, Stephen King is a master writer and I can speed through his work without any issues.
I finished Something Wicked This Way Comes, listening while I cleaned up after my Saturday night partying. Luckily, the intense ringing from the night before wasn’t so bad I couldn’t hear what was going on. I enjoyed it more today than the day before. I don’t know if that’
s the book or the fact that I was on the bus and at the mall while listening. It was a bit distracting. Today, though, I had the cleaning and laundry. Mindless tasks work so well as a way to focus on the story.
I took my time finishing the last story of The Ancestors. It was split into three stories, so I’ve been listening to one story in between each new book I read after Summer of Night. I finished it as I edited my TBR for November and the upcoming #buzzwordAthon 5.0.
I was definitely pushing my cognitive abilities here. I’m just so excited for next month and the books I will get to read. I wasn’t adding books. I was just figuring out which books I have on hand and cued up. I kept pausing it though because I kept wanting to watch a video or read good reads descriptions. I eventually finished it, spending my last 20-30 minutes (1/3) preparing some food. That’s it! It’s done.
I really enjoyed this even if I got a little fatigued. It gets me excited about books, even those I don’t read. There are 10-15 I want to read for the next readathon, but I know I can’t. This readathon gives me a reference point to plan around in the future because I definitely want to keep doing one every month. Its usually one week where my social life is more book centered. I think that’s reasonable. It also easily doubles my reading for the month, or if I find myself waning as I approach my comps, I might end up only reading during this point. That’s okay. I just want something interactive to keep me going!
I will try to continue the “read a physical book” during each readathon because I really enjoyed that. It does take up a lot more time. I read about 3-4 times slower than I listen. Still, I think it’s worth it. After all, White is for Witching was my only 5/5 star read. Imagine all the gems I’m missing because they aren’t on audio. Plus, I learned how much I enjoy reading at a coffee shop; I’d like to keep that up regularly. I could easily read one night every week for a few hours. I want to finish the last 30 pages or so of Maya Angelou’s second autobiography. I think I could still finish Kindred, the Graphic Novel. Granted, I’ve never read a graphic novel. I don’t know how long it will take or how much time I should admire the pictures. I’m betting on it being a quick read, but hey, I’ll learn as I go!
With Spookathon fast approaching, I am inspired to do a quick test run. I have yet to read Stephen King’s Bill Hodges mystery series and was thinking, why don’t I do a readathon for his birthday? When is that, oh the 21st, I really should have known that. That means this week I’m going to read the entire trilogy (Mr. Mercedes, Finders Keepers, End of Watch). That wasn’t my intent when I had this idea, but hey, what the hell? I have had a pretty good turn around rate with recent books, so I figure I wouldn’t be losing too much reading time if I get it out in a weeks time. I also kinda want to give horror a break for hot minute before the spookathon.
I am giving myself until the end of Monday next week to finish, just in time for horror (and maybe the Outsider, the horror mystery follow up to this series). With ~14hr books, my average speed will take about 30hrs. That should be enough if I listen every morning and evening, still leaving time to read a bit of Gather Together in My Name.
Concluding thoughts (9/30/19)
This started as 3 book readathon over the course of one week. My goal: (belatedly) celebrate King’s birthday by giving his crime novels a shot and see if I can read 3 books in one week. It quickly became not 3 books but 5 then 7. I realized I could do a book a day, on average. That was all together exciting and exhausting. I love the idea that I could get through more books in one week than I did the first 6 months of the year.
This readathon is yet another good thing to come of this book blogging I’ve been doing. I enjoy thinking about what I read, and I always want to read more. If I can read 7 in a 7 days, then there is no reason not to read 5 a month. That would make 60 in a year. I never dreamed I might be able to do that. Hopefully, this sticks. Grad school is a fickle thing, and it my fade into the back. I hope not. I have been watching less TV, playing next to no video games, and these audiobooks force me to find something productive to do (biking, cleaning, etc.).
That is why I hope to make this a monthly thing. At least 1 readathon a month will ensure I more than meet my initial quota, and it will make up for possible dips in my free time. One week out of the month isn’t that much to give up. October will be #spookathon 2019. Then I will go from there. I absolutely love #kingathon. It is the perfect excuse and way to dig through that massive King list of books without only ever reading him (something I have been guilty of).
In the end, I am glad I did this, and I am glad I chose the books I did (for the most part). Most of the books were enjoyable, and the biggest disappoint (Gerald’s Game) was okay. Although, for that one mediocre read I found one of my yearly favorites with Dolores Claiborne. Of all these, the last one, Insomnia, was the only one I found myself reading for the sake of it, even if I realized I needed a break. That undoubtedly took away from that experience, but that was the risk I took with such a long book. This is a learning process, and I can work on my approach.
On that note, it is far easier to do these when listening to 1.8x speed. I thought 1.3 was the best I could do, but I was shocked at how quickly I acclimated to faster speeds. It as good as cuts the time in half. Insomnia, I bumped up to 2.0x for a lot of the story for the sake of time, but I think I am going to stick with 1.8 for most of my future reads. I bet if I had listened more quickly to To Say Nothing of the Dog, I may have retained more interest.
All in all, this was a success. I got to read Stephen King. That included a few books I probably wouldn’t have read but am glad I did. It brought me to Dolores Claiborne and Insomnia. Insomnia was the one odd ball here; I read it because I owned it on hardback. The biggest problem, I think, was it kept me so busy I never read any of Gather Together in My Name, which I was reading a bit everyday. Time to return there now! In any case, I loved this readathon, and I look forward to doing #kingathon 2020 next year September 19th to to the 25th.