Readathon? Readathon!

April 22, 2016

DEWEYsReadathon

I’ve been a bit preoccupied lately and so I didn’t even realize that Dewey’s 24 Hour Readathon was happening this weekend until I got the Twitter notification that a bunch of people were talking about it. But I’m always down for a bookish party, so I quickly registered and am now throwing together my readathon stack o’ books.

As luck (or, you know, my predictable browsing habit) would have it, I just picked up three books from the library that I’ve been dying to read. They’re all a fairly manageable length and super interesting. It also helps that they’re all different genres (and one is a collection of short stories), so I’ll have a book for every mood.

The Penny Poet of Portsmouth, Scary Old Sex, Pandemic

Woo! Library books!

 

 

 

Pandemic: Tracking Contagions, From Cholera to Ebola and Beyond by Sonia Shah

The Penny Poet of Portsmouth: A Memoir of Place, Solitude, and Friendship by Katherine Towler

Scary Old Sex by Arlene Heyman

 

 

 

To round things out and be my usual over-ambitious self, I’m also going to keep Uprooted by Naomi Novik and What Is Not Yours Is Not Yours by Helen Oyeyemi nearby (also because I’ve been meaning to read Uprooted for ages and I love everything Helen Oyeyemi writes).

And in case that wasn’t enough, I’ve got a few e-books as well. I’m currently in the middle of The Rosie Effect by Graeme Simsion and I have Aziz Ansari’s Modern Romance and Loving Day by Mat Johnson sitting on my kindle app.

Given that I am lacking in both a time-turner and superpowers, I don’t actually expect to finish even a fraction of this stack. Since I didn’t remember that the Readathon was happening, much of this weekend is double booked (see what I did there). I don’t really mind though. I’ll get through what I get through and that will likely be more than it would otherwise be. Also, it’s always fun when the bookish community gets to rally and pour all our enthusiasm into an event like this, so seeing everyone else’s posts will also be great.

If you want in on the action, it’s not too late! You can sign up here and also follow the progress of the Readathon through the 24 hours.

To follow any progress that I do make, you can check my Instagram and Twitter feeds (I’m @poindextrix on everything) as that’s probably where I’ll be updating. Also on Litsy, because that is my new obsession. It’s like a mix of Instagram and Goodreads, so how could I not love it?

So who else is participating? What are you reading? Inquiring (bookish) minds want to know!

The project I’ve been working on for the past two years is over at the end of this month. It has been an amazing experience and over all, I’ve really enjoyed it. Now that the project is coming to an end, I’m mostly panicking, but there is a teeny tiny part of me that is relishing the idea of having a bunch of “free” time in which to read more. Obviously I’ll be applying for every archival job under the sun and hopefully going on interviews, and maybe doing other kinds of work to pay the bills, but I imagine there will be more reading time ahead.

And so, I have devised this reading list for myself, if only to have a bright spot in the gloom of uncertainty. And if you happen to be in the market for an archivist or special collections librarian, call me (I’m kidding {I’m not kidding}).

Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace — I have started this, only to abandon it for other (shorter) books on multiple occasions, and more time = more progress, right? When I came up with this idea, this book was the first that came to mind, but as I’ve added to the list I think it might end up bumped down a few spots.

Adulting: How to Become a Grown-Up in 468 Easy(ish) Steps by Kelly Williams Brown — I bought this book back when I lived in New York and then, predictably, got distracted. Since I still feel like I’m mostly just doing an impersonation of a functional human being, I think I could really benefit from reading it right now. And maybe I’ll learn some helpful tips to apply to my job search and living more frugally/successfully while looking for a job.

Negroland by Margo Jefferson — A book that’s about the past, but also about the present and something that our society continues to grapple with. I feel like I will learn a lot when I read this.

Mentors, Muses, and Monsters: 30 Writers on the People Who Changed Their Lives — I find a lot of mentor-mentee relationships fascinating, as well as the everyday lives of writers (“they’re just like us!”), so I expect this to be like candy. And, there are probably tons of great pieces of advice, so I’m going to try to absorb the knowledge and wisdom of these people third or fourth-hand.

Reading Lolita in Tehran by Azar Nafisi — This is sort of a cheat since I technically started it earlier this month on a really shitty evening during a really shitty week. The details aren’t important, but reading about how literature is, and what it can teach us about ourselves and other people and life just might be.

The Complete Stories by Clarice Lispector — An awesome woman being awesome and writing amazing, feminist works throughout her life? I’m here for it. I’ve been wanting to read more in translation and more short stories, and I’m always down for more feminist writing. This ticks all the boxes.

A Darker Shade of Magic by V. E. Schwab — Because 1) I’ve been meaning to read this for ages and 2) I need a little magic in my life.

So there you have it. My Unemployment Reading List. Is there anything else you think that I absolutely need to add to this list? Hopefully I won’t be unemployed long enough to finish it, but as Scar says:

Be Prepared!

Sorcerer to the Crown Review

February 26, 2016

I kept hearing about this book. I kept meaning to read it. I finally got around to it. Now I get it.

Zen Cho’s Sorcerer to the Crown is the magical feminist fantasy novel I’ve been waiting for. It’s funny and fun and smart. Every time I thought there was something that was going to make me groan unhappily, it got flipped on its head. My only complaint is the continued use of “female” as a noun, and I think that might just be a pet peeve of mine.

The characters are strong and relatable and, occasionally, ridiculous. The plot is engaging and the writing is great. I wanted to keep reading — not only to find out what would happen next, but because it was an enjoyable experience.

Seriously, this book is delightful. It has something for everyone. I whole-heatedly recommend it. It’s the first in a trilogy and I don’t even care that I have to wait (OK, I care a little bit). I’m all in.

Poisoned Apples Review

February 19, 2016

Midway through 2014 I started hearing about a book of poetry entitled Poisoned Apples. Just a few comments here or there at first, but eventually the positive twittering turned into a roar of approval.

Christine Heppermann’s slim volume melds contemporary feminism with familiar fairy tales to produce modern, provocative poetry that speaks to the teenage experience. Fairytales! Feminism! Poetry! On paper, this book sounds like it was made specifically with me in mind.

And yet… I didn’t love it. Maybe it’s that it was playing to the YA audience, maybe it was a little too modern, but this poetry just did not do it for me.

The fairytale adaptations felt strained and gimmicky — like they were trying too hard to hit the feminism and wink at the story. I do think part of the letdown was that I had extraordinarily high expectations for it, and that is perhaps unfair.

In any case, it was a quick read and it was fun, it just wasn’t everything I hoped it would be. On the bright side, I think that reading this helped get me out of my reading rut, so that’s something.

Has anything you’ve read ever suffered from inflated expectations? I feel like I don’t read enough poetry, even though I love it. Leave your poetry recommendations in the comments!

Book Juggling

February 4, 2016

If you were to look at my “currently reading” shelf on Goodreads right now, you might raise a skeptical eyebrow. See, the thing is, I am “currently reading” seven books (OK, I’m really actively reading six, but that seventh is there because I’ll get back to it one of these days).

It isn’t particularly uncommon for me to be reading a couple of books simultaneously, but I don’t generally read this many all at once. Every so often though, I go through this weird book juggling phase and I have no clue what triggers it. Normally it’s just a different way for me to read, but right now it’s kind of stressing me out.

It isn’t that the books I’m reading don’t hold my interest (they do when I’m reading them!), but for some reason I’ve recently felt this drive to keep starting new books. Heck, I’ve actually had to stop myself from starting some other new ones even as I struggle to finish the ones I’ve got going right now.

I’ve been making better progress in the last couple of days, so it’s possible I’ll be out of this phase soon, but if not, I might just let myself abandon some for now. After all, I can always go back to them later, right?

Do any of you go through these kinds of book juggling phases? How do they make you feel? Do they stress you out, or do you just go with the flow? How do you jumpstart your reading and get back to “normal”?

Recapping #24in48

January 19, 2016

Sooooo I kind of failed spectacularly at my first attempt at the #24in48 Readathon.

I could make excuses, but basically, I just suck at planning and so it didn’t really work out.

I still had a decent amount of fun reading and posting and following along with other participants, so it’s not like it was a complete bust.

During the readathon I finished Undermajordomo Minor and read the majority of Bad Feminist, as well as bits of Missoula and the Alexander Hamilton biography.

Like I said, I had fun. Maybe I’ll try again. Or maybe I’ll just stick to regular reading weekends.

#24in48 Readathon

January 15, 2016

The #24in48 Readathon is upon us and I have decided to participate because why wouldn’t I want to take a read-cation?

I have a few commitments on Saturday and Sunday, but the beauty of the 24 in 48 format is that there is flexibility.

Surprising no one, I was super indecisive when trying to pick which books I’d try to read during the ‘thon. Knowing full well that I won’t get to all of these (and that I might jump around between a few of them), here’s my physical stack:

IMG_2734

I also have Missoula by Jon Krakauer and The Cat’s Table by Michael Ondatjee on my kindle app.

I will probably be posting most of my readathon updates on instagram and twitter using the #24in48 hashtag, so follow me @poindextrix for all the bookish fun.

 

Now that we’re firmly entrenched in 2016 (I say this as if we could somehow slip back in time…) I’m taking a moment to look back on my year in reading and figure out my 2016 reading goals/resolutions.

I use a combination of Goodreads and a variation on Book Riot’s ultimate reading spreadsheet to track my reading. It has been super helpful, but I’m often pretty bad at adding books to my spreadsheet in a timely fashion. I’m going to try to be better about this — mostly for my own sanity; it’s way less overwhelming if I add books as I go and not in giant batches every few months.

In 2015 I finished reading 112 books. 26 were by people of color. 71 were by women. 5 were in translation. There is clearly room for improvement here, so diversifying my reading is a main goal for me. In addition to people of color and works in translation, I want to read more books by and/or about people who are LGBT, disabled, and otherwise outside the “norm” as defined by mainstream publishing. I’ve added columns in my spreadsheet to cover “other author diversity” and “diversity representation” to try and track this (I know it’s flawed, but it’s the best I’ve come up with so far. I’m open to suggestions if you have them).

I’ve also been tracking where the books I read come from because I think that’s incredibly interesting (and/or I’m a colossal nerd). 34 of the physical books I read came from a library (I’m extremely fortunate in that I can borrow from both the public and university libraries). 26 of my books consumed were audiobooks and 32 were e-books (only 4 of which were not borrowed electronically from the Free Library of Philadelphia). I really started exploring audiobooks this year and it has tremendously enhanced my reading life, so I plan to continue that practice in 2016.

In addition to getting better at tracking, reading more diversely, and reading more in translation, I’d also like to branch out more when it comes to genre — especially comics. Maybe I’ll even go crazy and start a pull list this year.

And, of course, I want to blog more. I’m working on it, really. But I’m also all over bookstagram, so if you get too impatient waiting for me to post here about the stuff I’m reading, follow me @poindextrix for books, cats, and other random bits of whimsy.

Now I’m heading back to the Alexander Hamilton biography by Ron Chernow. It’s the book on which Hamilton (the musical) is primarily based (sort of). In addition to scratching that Hamilton itch, it’ll check off a few boxes for the Book Riot 2016 Read Harder Challenge!

What are you reading right now? Do you make reading resolutions? If so, what are they? Do you have suggestions for books in translation that I should read? Put ’em in the comments!

Happy reading, friends!

Yep, I’m jumping on that bandwagon and presenting you guys with my own list of best books of the year. Since I haven’t read anywhere near all the books (or even all the buzziest books) published this year, my list is pulled from the books I’ve read in the past year. Some of those are 2014 or 2015 books and some are super backlist.

These are all books I enjoyed or that made me think. There isn’t that much more of a method than that. So in no particular order…

2015 titles:

The Book of Unknown Americans by Cristina Henriquez

The Magician’s Land by Lev Grossman

Hammer Head: The Making of a Carpenter by Nina McLaughlin

Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates

Half-Resurrection Blues by Daniel José Older

A God in Ruins by Kate Atkinson

Slade House by David Mitchell

The Girl Who Slept with God by Val Brelinski

H is for Hawk by Helen Macdonald

A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara

Nimona by Noelle Stevenson

Lumberjanes by Noelle Stevenson, Grace Ellis, and Brooke A. Allen

Bitch Planet by Kelly Sue DeConick, Valentine De Landro, Taki Soma, and Robert Wilson

The Queen of the Night by Alexander Chee (OK, technically this is a 2016 book, but since this is a list of the best books I read in 2015, I’m counting it).

Backlist titles:

We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adiche

Rabid: A Cultural History of the World’s Most Diabolical Virus by Bill Wasik and Monica Murphy

The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell

The Known World by Edward P. Jones

Alif the Unseen by G. Willow Wilson

2 a.m. at the Cat’s Pajamas by Marie-Helene Bertino

Stiff by Mary Roach

Yes, Chef by Marcus Samuelsson

The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton

Into Thin Air by Jon Krakauer

 

Now I’m off to ring in the new year in (relative) style. Happy New Year to everyone and I’ll see you in 2016!

I’ve been meaning to write about Alexander Chee’s The Queen of the Night for a while, but I kept getting distracted. If the title sounds familiar, it’s possible that you’re a Book Riot fan and heard Liberty proclaim that she would eat James Patterson if this book doesn’t do well.

Well, I’m a lucky duck with *connections* and I managed to get my hands on an advance copy.

Guys, I think James Patterson is safe.

The Queen of the Night is so good. So. Good.

I love historical fiction and I love sort of epic, sprawling tales that follow characters through radically different stages in life. This book scratches all of those itches for me. I love how the protagonist is able to shift and adapt to new situations — she’s a strong, if somewhat selfish character. She is complicated and intense and I really liked seeing her story unfold. I also enjoyed how opera plays an ongoing role in the book. It added an extra sense of depth to the story. That being said, I don’t think that an interest in/knowledge of opera is necessary to enjoy The Queen of the Night.

I don’t want to say any more about it at this point (other than it’s fantastic and you should read it) because I want you to really be able to take it all in fresh when you read it.

It comes out in February 2016. Plan accordingly. Once you start reading it, you might not want to stop and it’s a hefty-ish book. But yeah, read it. Make sure James Patterson is safe.

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