Dewey’s 24 Hour Readathon

I’ll be participating in the Dewey’s 24 Hr Readathon today, officially beginning at 8a my time and running for 24 hours. I don’t pretend I’m young enough to pull an all-nighter, but I’m thinking that this is a delightful treat after two weeks of overextending myself, and gives me the perfect excuse to do what I want (i.e. read with my feet up) ALL DAY LONG.

1) What fine part of the world are you reading from today?  from my cozy living room in Oakwood, Ohio
2) Which book in your stack are you most looking forward to? I’ve chosen two to begin with: one fiction and one nonfiction (see below for details)
3) Which snack are you most looking forward to? I’ve been so overextended the last two weeks that I gave zero thought to this part.
4) Tell us a little something about yourself! Lifelong bookworm, living with lupus for 28 years now, was a CPA in a former life, now have 4.9 grandsons under the age of four.
5) If you participated in the last read-a-thon, what’s one thing you’ll do different today? If this is your first read-a-thon, what are you most looking forward to? I did participate once before and recruited friends to join me, but set expectations too high so this time I will simply be doing this for fun! And one of my friends will be joining me again.  🙂

I plan to read for at least 45 minutes out of each hour and use the other minutes to wiggle my toes, check in on the readathon and make a few posts here. I’m not going to set goals for how many books or pages I’ll read, but I am going to start off with two books I’ve been eager to read again.

I first read The Time Traveler’s Wifeback in 2005 and absolutely fell in love with the characters. Because the author resisted letting the book be published digitally (and particularly to kindle) for so long, I haven’t been able to read it since switching entirely to reading on my kindle. (So much easier on painful hands, etc.) A dear friend gifted me the book yesterday, and I can’t wait to dive in.

The nonfiction book I’ll be reaching for is Paul Theroux’s account of walking around England: The Kingdom by the Sea: A Journey Around the Coast of Great Britain. This kind of travel diary is just my “cup of tea”. With these two books I should have a lot of fun ahead of me in this day of reading.

I plan to post my updates here on this post. Happy reading, all!

Hour 1: read 7% of The Time Traveler’s Wife (plus the beginning material including a new introduction by the author, which didn’t count toward my percentage read. At 416 pages that means I read only around 40 real pages in my 40-ish minutes of reading. Not very speedy.) To clear my head I got up and rescued the bread dough I’d made on Thursday and forgotten to bake yesterday. Oops! It’s now in the pans for a final rise and the oven is warming up. That means that during hour 3 I will smell fresh bread and get to feast on that through the day! Now it’s on to my nonfiction book for the next hour…

Hour 2: 12% into The Kingdom by the Sea, enjoying the hike. Bread dough isn’t rising very well; apparently 48 hours is too long to leave it, haha. I’ll give it another half hour then bake it and hope for the best.

Hours 3 – 4: It’s now hard to switch back and forth because when the timer hits I want to keep going in the book that I am. i”m also starting to lose a little bit of focus. (The bread turned out quite well and I’ve been using the few minute breaks per hour to fuss around the kitchen and get lunch started. So far that hasn’t cut into my reading time though obviously it got me behind here.)

I’m currently at 18% in Time Travelers Wife and 22% in my trip around the coast of Britain. Enjoying both very much!

Hours 5-6 I kept up my alternating pattern. Hour 7 I needed a nap. Since hour 8 it all blurs together and I’m not paying attention to breaks or anything. My eyes hurt, but mostly that lack of attention means I’ve stopped switching back and forth. I’ve read some in each book but now I’m stuck in Time Travelers Wife, and enjoying it. Perhaps I’ll switch again after the next time I get up and move around.

Currently at 42% in this one and 40% in my walk around Britain.===========

Mid-Event Survey:

1. What are you reading right now? I’m still alternating between The Time Traveler’s Wife (kindle says I have 3 hrs and 28 mins to finish the book) and The Kingdom By the Sea (2 hrs 25 mins left) and debating whether to push hard to finish one or the other of them or whether to continue going back and forth. Both are excellent.
2. How many books have you read so far? I began both the above books this morning and haven’t finished a complete book to this point.
3. What book are you most looking forward to for the second half of the Read-a-thon? Can’t decide. If I finish one, I’ll try and finish the other afterward.
4. Have you had many interruptions? How did you deal with those? Mostly for painful eyes or feeling sleepy. Twice I went for a brisk walk around the block, once down to Starbucks.
5. What surprises you most about the Read-a-thon, so far? That it feels like something I should try far more often

The Time Traveler’s Wife 51%, The Kingdom by the Sea 43%

Well, at midnight my time, with eight hours still to go, I’m finally resorting to audiobooks… Listening to “A Little Life” by Hanya Yanigihara. Loving it so far but really wishing y eyes would jump up and say “we’re good for another eight concentrated hours!”

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Must take another nap, though this might last more than one hour. I will be lying still and listening to A Little Life. Looks like I might finish this readathon with about 800 pages. Not “good enough” but may be the best I can do.

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I was up again in time to go on with hour 20 of this readathon and have focused solely on The Time Traveler’s Wife because I could see I had time to finish it and it’s racing toward the conclusion. I haven’t taken the time to move around or post updates, but I’ve been reading and as of now my lovely kindle Voyage is saying I have 55 minutes of reading yet to go. What will I do when I’m done? Probably go crawl back into bed for an hour or two, and then I’ll want to finish up my other book.

I’ll come back and post a final update in an hour or so.=========

Which hour was most daunting for you? 11p which was hour 16 for me
Could you list a few high-interest books that you think could keep a Reader engaged for next year? I can’t recommend The Time Traveler’s Wife highly enough. What a wonderful, satisfying read.
Do you have any suggestions for how to improve the Read-a-thon next year? Encourage us to round  up some real life friends ahead of time and read in each other’s presence. I saw some people posting about doing just that and I think it would have helped me.
What do you think worked really well in this year’s Read-a-thon? This was the first time I’ve had cheerleaders show up and post to encourage me (it was a real disappointment last time when none did) and that was wonderful!
How many books did you read? One from start to finish, another start to more than half done, and part of an audiobook to which I was already listening.
What were the names of the books you read? The Time Traveler’s Wife, The Kingdom by the Sea: A Journey Around the Coast of Great Britain and A Little Life.

Which book did you enjoy most? The Time Traveler’s Wife
Which did you enjoy least? all are fantastic
If you were a Cheerleader, do you have any advice for next year’s Cheerleaders? Remember how much help you are to someone who’s trying to keep going. Go back and answer any comments your readers have made. My cheerleaders were awesome!
How likely are you to participate in the Read-a-thon again? What role would you be likely to take next time?  100% likely to participate again, and I will plan as well as I can for reading but will also reach out and encourage others.

Finally tally: >716 pages (that many on kindle plus another couple of hours via audiobook). I didn’t read nearly as quickly as I used to and I’m not sure if that’s my new normal or if I spent too much time doing other things.

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Updates (mea culpa)

Clearly, letting even one self-imposed deadline fall by the wayside encourages me to let more slide. And then the backlog is daunting so I just say, “I’ll have more time tomorrow; I’ll do it then.” So today is the cliff: one more postponement and I’ll crash over the edge. Don’t want to do that, so we’ll have a quick rundown of recent reads…

I had fun re-reading a book from childhood, The Little Prince and noticing once again how well the illustrations enhance the story.

I raced through the first five books in Jeffrey Archer’s Clifton Chronicles series. I mentioned the first one in an earlier post, but this time I consumed volumes 2-5 without a break.

In nonfiction I enjoyed Howards End Is on the Landing: A Year of Reading from Home but then I always like books about books. I wish the author had given us a few more of her impressions from her “year of reading from home” rather than mostly a listing of books she had on her shelves. I also read (or listened to) Anne Perry and the Murder of the Century because although I used to love Perry’s historical mysteries, I’ve categorically refused to read any more of them since learning she herself is a convicted murderer. I have no problem with someone living a productive life after serving one’s time, but I think it’s the height of poor taste to choose murder mysteries to make her (very good) living. After reading this book, I have more complicated feelings toward her and I’m not sure if I’ll stick with my ban forever. Please note, however, that the narrator for this audiobook is really annoying and I will definitely not listen to any others she may have narrated.

A much better nonfiction read is Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption and this one I highly recommend. Thought-provoking, discouraging and hopeful all at once. I need to come back and add more thoughts on this one, but I must get this post up, so for now I suggest you go find the book and read it.

I also recommend David McCullough’s latest book The Wright Brothers, who are probably my hometown’s most famous local boys.

In general fiction I’ve read Aquarium, The Bone Tree, The People in the Trees, and All the Light We Cannot See. I enjoyed all, but am not sure that any will make my top ten list for 2015.

A quick trip through At Bertram’s Hotel was an easy reminder that Agatha Christie can be relied upon for a good read. Casino Royale was my first time to actually dive into one of the books behind the James Bond film series. It also qualifies in two challenges: my TBR one and the Literary Birthday one. And I finally read Anna Karenina from start to finish, and thoroughly enjoyed it! (this one counts in my Back to the Classics challenge.)

There have been a few other books, but as I’ve already lost the draft for this post TWICE, I’m going to post as is and come back to add the rest of the links and perhaps a few more thoughts.

Currently I’m working my way through the shortlist for this years Baileys Women’s Fiction Prize, but those will be covered in another post.


The Best Book I’ll Read in 2015? A Little Life, by Hanya Yanagihara

A Little Life: A Novel

I don’t even know how to begin discussing this except to say that it’s books like this that make me so grateful to be a reader. It’s my first five-star (new) read of the year and it was a slam dunk for that rating. To say that it’s “about” four friends during college and afterward is to completely miss the point. Their enduring friendship is a mainstay of the book, but it’s ever so much more than that. To be honest, everything revolves around Jude St. Francis, a brilliant and sensitive man who has endured unspeakable horrors in his earlier life. But he wants to protect everyone in his life from all of that (and really, from him) by keeping everything to himself insofar as possible. We learn his backstory very gradually, and come to appreciate what a triumph his life really is, even as we see that some damage can never be fixed. His self-loathing is blind and all-consuming, although everyone who meets him sees a jewel of a person, brilliant and loving and loyal and kind and courageous and stubborn. Like attracts like, and his friends would go to the ends of the earth for him. I cried many times during this book and for most of the last 50 pages. Hanya Yanagihara has truly written a masterpiece. I am quite certain I won’t read a better book this year, and I will never forget — or get over — these characters.

A word of caution: for those who have PTSD issues regarding abuse, I’d be cautious going into this one. But while it is dark — very, very dark at times and at length — there is also great hope and humanity throughout.

Heartwrenching and oh-so-beautiful.

This one will count  toward my “Read Harder” challenge.


Catching up

During the past week I have finished two books that probably fit into the thriller category, but they are so very different in tone and subject matter that it seems incongruous to call them the same genre.

First, I finally read a book that had been sitting on my TBR pile for a long time (since July of 2013) and one that I included when I wrote up my post for the TBR Reading Challenge.  But while I maintained a vague recollection that Marathon Man was a thriller, possibly even of the spy variety, I didn’t remember any specifics; and I never saw the movie made from the book. So I went into it pretty much blind. For the first few chapters I really didn’t understand what was going on, or how the different characters and story lines fit together. But pretty soon it all rolled together and from then on was compelling, and a quick read.

I never enjoy scenes of violence or torture (and honestly, I didn’t need more reason to fear a dentist’s drill) but I can generally hold my mental distance. Not so with the subject for the book I finished this afternoon…

I’ve read and enjoyed three other books in the Penn Cage series by author Greg Iles, and am looking forward to book 5 to be released in April. The Devil’s Punchbowl is equally well written and I enjoy the main characters and the increasing complexity of their relationships. Everything moves along well — except (and for me this is a deal-breaker EXCEPT) that when I encounter news stories or book treatments of child abuse or — in this case — animal abuse, it makes me literally sick to my stomach. That’s all I’m going to say about that, so the review will be short, but I never need to read one more word about the kind of vicious people who think it sport to watch or promote any kind of animal fighting. It takes a particular kind of soul sickness to think that’s entertainment and it destroys my faith in humanity.

I’m not sure what I will pick up to clean out my head after this book, but it will have to be something very different. And I need to find it soon.


2nd Annual Love for Books Readathon, February 9 – 15

To join in, sign up here. The rules are simple and non-constraining. Read anything you like and set any goals you like. There will be a small prize and perhaps some mini-challenges along the way.

I’ve been averaging about 165 pages per day so far this year, so to make it a challenge, I will set myself a goal of 1,400 pages for the week. That should allow me to finish my two current reads and one or two more.

Current stats:

The Narrow Road to the Deep NorthI am currently on pg 392 of 467

Natchez BurningI am currently on pg 460 of 853

I’m also working through The NIV Bible in 90 Days and am on page 375 of 1088

I will come back and update this post as I go:

My Reading Progress

9th/Monday:
Read: The Narrow Road to the Deep North (75), Natchez Burning (320), The NIV Bible in 90 Days (69), The Burgess Boys (42)
Pages read: 506  (I had no idea I’d read this much!)
Total # of pages:
506
Books completed: The Narrow Road to the Deep North

10-11/Tuesday-Wednesday:
Read: Natchez Burning (73), The NIV Bible in 90 Days (43), The Burgess Boys (241), Reamde 19[in audio]
Pages read:
376
Total # of pages:
882
Books completed: Natchez Burning

12th-14th/Thursday-Saturday: 
Read:
The NIV Bible in 90 Days (74), The Burgess Boys (53), The Quiet Game (Penn Cage Book 1)(314)
Pages read:
441
Total # of pages:
1323
Books completed: The Burgess Boys

15th/Sunday:
Read: The Quiet Game (32), Reamde (71)
Pages read: 103
Total # of pages: 1427
Books completed: none

Total pages read for #LfBReadathon:  1427

Total Books finished: 3

So, I barely met my goal, despite the promising start. In my defense, we spent the weekend going to all eight of the Best Picture nominees for the 2015 Oscars (some good movies in there!) and that really cut my opportunities to read. It was fun to participate in this little challenge, though.


2015 Literary Birthday Challenge

I’m wary of committing to too many book challenges — that I might find it chafing against what I want to read, or that I simply won’t follow through… but I think I’ll give this one more a try. I signed up for the event hosted by You, Me and a Cup of Tea because it sounded easy enough and rather fun. Chasing down birthdays for the authors of books I want to read this year provided me with plenty of opportunity to procrastinate when I could have been doing things like folding laundry or, say, actually reading.

The idea is that each month I will read one book by an author who was born during that month. Goodreads has a group page set up  and there are links on that page to lists people are compiling of authors who would meet the criteria. I am planning to come back and update this page with each relevant entry.

Updates:

January     The Lord of the Rings, by JRR Tolkien  1/10/15

February    The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, by Muriel Spark  2/25/15

March    The Inspector-General, by Nikolai Gogol  3/30/15

April     Up From Slavery, by Booker T. Washington  4/19/15

May      Casino Royale, by Ian Fleming  5/4/15

Now, I think that should be the end of the challenges I enter. Sometimes I have already found it confining to keep up with 2-3 book clubs, although I certainly read enough books to do so if I would just choose those which I am “supposed to read.”


I can’t believe that a new reading year is about to begin! 2014 has had quite a few delightful reads, so I will close this post by listing what I wound up deciding were my ten favorite new-to-me books of the year.

1  How the Light Gets In: A Chief Inspector Gamache Novel by  Louise Penny
I’m just not sure books get any better than this one, though one must have read the preceeding books to fully appreciate it.
2 The Martian: A Novel by Andy Weir
I laughed my way through this whole book. I loved the sciency nerdy stuff and thought there were a lot of good insights into media coverage, human resourcefulness and the value of persisting.
3 The Golem and the Jinni (P.S.) by Helene Wecker
From the description, this would not seem like my kind of book at all, but I simply loved it. Beautifully written, and very much a charcter-driven book. I will be re-reading this one in the near future.
4 We Were Liars by E. Lockhart
I knew nothing whatever about this book when I read it (inhaled it, really). I’m glad for that, because if I’d known more I couldn’t have enjoyed it as much.
5 Twelve Angry Men (Penguin Classics) by Reginald Rose
I’d seen the (great) movie long ago, but had never read the play. I highly recommend it.
6 The Return of the Soldier Rebecca West
A surprisingly powerful novella on the effects of shellshock in the aftermath of WW1.
7 Wave by Sonali Deraniyagala
This one was very painful to read. The author put it all out on the page – her raw emotions and golden memories. Gradually, one sees her find her way forward after her nearly unthinkable loss.
8 The Sorcerer’s Apprentices: A Season in the Kitchen at Ferran Adrià’s elBulli by Lisa Abend
I loved this book about the workings at one of the world’s most famous restaurants, and the lives of the apprentices who were a part of it for one season.
9 Station Eleven by Hilary St. John Mandel
More than post-apocalyptic, this reads as a literary novel that follows human nature in the wake of a worldwide flu pandemic. I enjoyed it far more than I thought I was going to.
10 The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin

In the end, I had to put this one on my list because it was just such a fun read.

I had to leave off several that could have qualified but perhaps were just nudged out by one or more of the above.


Book Riot’s “Read Harder” Challenge

Here is another challenge in which I will be participating over the coming year. I thought it would be a fun way to nudge me into some specific areas I might not otherwise drift with my reading. I will come back and update this as I check things off the list during 2015.

There are 24 tasks in the Read Harder Challenge (or roughly two per month). You can tackle them in any order, make any changes, do them all in a month or spread them out over the year. Make the challenge yours!

A book written by someone when they were under the age of 25 The Reading Promise: My Father and the Books We Shared
1/31/15

A book written by someone when they were over the age of 65   As Chimney Sweepers Come to Dust  1/14/15

A collection of short stories (either by one person or an anthology by many people) One More Thing: Stories and More Stories  3/8/15

A book published by an indie press  All the Dancing Birds  1/2/15

A book by or about someone that identifies as LGBTQ  A Little Life, by Hanya Yanagihara 3/29/15

A book by a person whose gender is different from your own   The Lord of the Rings  1/10/15

A book that takes place in Asia  The Great Zoo of China  4/4/15

A book by an author from Africa  The Handsome Man’s Deluxe Café by Alexander McCall Smith  1/22/15

A book that is by or about someone from an indigenous culture (Native Americans, Aboriginals, etc.)

A microhistory  Proof: The Science of Booze  4/21/15

A YA novel

A sci-fi novel   The Book of Strange New Things  1/3/15

A romance novel

A National Book Award, Man Booker Prize or Pulitzer Prize winner from the last decade   The Narrow Road to the Deep North  2/9/15

A book that is a retelling of a classic story (fairytale, Shakespearian play, classic novel, etc.)

An audiobook   Sheep-Pig  2/1/15

A collection of poetry

A book that someone else has recommended to you  Winter Garden  1/13/15

A book that was originally published in another language  A Doll’s House  1/23/15

A graphic novel, a graphic memoir or a collection of comics of any kind

A book that you would consider a guilty pleasure (Read, and then realize that good entertainment is nothing to feel guilty over)  Home of the Braised, by Julie Hyzy  1/25/15

A book published before 1850  The Inspector-General, by Nikolai Gogol 3/30/15

A book published this year  The Girl on the Train, by Paula Hawkins 1/17/15

A self-improvement book (can be traditionally or non-traditionally considered “self-improvement”)

The original post on Book Riot can be found here

As of 4/21/15 I have completed 17 of the 24 assigned tasks.