Oh Tara

So I’m super happy that I outdid my February reading goal. Instead of the ten or fifteen I thought I might read, I actually got to nineteen books. Yes, I did read some graphic novels (but you all know my feelings about how they are real books) but I also read a bunch of non fiction too, and the rest of Philip Pullman’s Dark Materials trilogy.

With this in mind, that is, the fact that I’m more than a third of the way to my yearly hundred book goal, my March reading challenge to myself is a little different.

Way back in January I started reading Gone With the Wind.

scarlet cover.jpg

A film tie-in version that has been languishing on my to be read shelf since before my children were born. Yes, kids plural, that’s how long it has been sitting there. I bought it at Gleebooks in Glebe on a pre-parenthood night out. I was probably eating there prior to heading to a show. Comedy maybe? Or a play? It’s been so long that I can’t actually remember. We did eat Nepalese food though, I think.

Anyway, this is what I must read this month. It started out so well, I was getting into it, reading before bed. And then just the thought of getting through it all overwhelmed me. How was I going to get it done? What about all the other books that were arriving from Book Depository (and the three others on their way)? But no, this month it’s

never go hungry again

or bust.

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A Question Not Worth Asking

I’ve decided to go on a bit of a graphic novel binge. And yes, I have been counting them on my 2018 Reading Challenge List, even though they only take less than an hour to read. Of course I have wondered whether I am really allowed to count them, as perhaps they are not proper books, but I decided I was as a I hate book snobs.

I’m sure you’ve met a book snob. They’re the ones who only read ‘real literature’ – prize winners and 19th Century novelists, books for adults. They’re also the ones who think YA is a genre and shun the Dymocks Popular 100 list and wouldn’t be caught dead buying a book in Big W. They’re nothing short of my worst nightmare.

If I had a dollar for every time I heard someone say YA isn’t real writing I could probably have bought every YA book ever written by now. And it’s mad exponentially more annoying by the fact that the people who deride YA sing the praises of picture books and Pixar shorts, as if by adding an image you make it infinitely more high brow. It’s the same. It’s people writing for their audience. Just because I don’t fit the age demographic anymore doesn’t mean I don’t get to read it.

Length and diction should not be the sole criteria by which you judge the sophistication of a text. What about audience? And purpose? And enjoyment level of the reader? Charles Dickens is lauded, but by god reading through his dialect is a slog. The same goes for Shakespeare, a rant I have already had on this blog this year.

I think a question also surrounds the whole audiobook thing. Are they really books? Can you count that you have read them, when in actual fact, someone is reading to you? This is where my own book snobbishness lays. Of course, in the end they should be counted because narrative started in the oral form and who can argue with history?

I guess the question that does need to be asked is – Why does it matter what we read? It’s been edited. The sentences make sense. The punctuation is correct. Who cares if it’s a trashy romance or an oven manual, as long as it’s not some scribble over a snapchat.

What a piece of work is Shakespeare

So despite only getting a few centuries in to Poisoned Pens, 


I did actually enjoy some of the extracts I read. The pieces about the poor quality of Shakespeare quite resonated with me.

I can’t stand Shakespeare. And while you may not think this an uncommon statement, to hold this view as a teacher of literature is somewhat of a taboo. To utter in any English faculty the words 

Why do we teach Shakespeare

Is something of a heresy.

In Poisoned Pens there are two excellent writers reasons for holding this view. First George Bernard Shaw 

who is as impatient with Shakespeare as I am. And secondly, William Cartwright

 who was moved to write poetry about Shakespeare’s egregious nature.

I just don’t know why we study him. Yes the themes are universal, but then we could study then more easily in texts that don’t use such old language. Yes he invented so many interesting and new words and phrases, but why do we have to battle through a whole text just to get to the good bits? And so many other people were writing well at the same time. And in languages other than English too. Why is Shakespeare the person the western literary world has settled on to adore? 

My feelings of course don’t extend to the performance of his plays. I would take a ticket to see one any time. I just don’t why we insist on making teenagers read them.

Oh, it’s not Friday

I only just realised what day it was, and therefore I had already reneged on my pseudo resolution. But that’s ok, because it’s only a day later and not the week it could have been.

So far this month I’ve read five books. I’ve been trying to read one a day, and my goal is to do that all month and therefore read thirty one books before I really get back into real life and work. Technically I’m only on holidays until January 28th, but I figure those first few days of work (and the last few days of January) don’t really count. I’ll just be settling back in and reading on the sly.

To this end, I have bought six new books in the last two days. Eight in the last week, one of which I have read already.

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You see only five here as one book I bought today is a gift for someone else and I don’t want to spoil the surprise.

What I have realised though, is that a book a day may not be that sustainable. So I’ve started two at once. A fiction and a Non Fiction. I can usually manage the two styles simultaneously as long as the Non Fiction isn’t something with a story; not a biography or some such, rather a compendium of facts.

I haven’t even started thinking about the 2018 Reading Challenge (which I will probably write about next). Instead, I’m just reading and listing my titles down and I’ll fit them into the categories later.

What is slowing me down though, is the way I’ve decided to read this year. With a notebook at hand.

 

I’m using post-its to tag blog post ideas, but what I’m writing down are interesting words or other books I need to read that are mentioned in the book I am currently reading. Depending on the book I can be stopping every sentence.

I used to read like this when I was very young. I can remember that Dracula had a lot of new words for me and my list for that particular novel ran over two pages. After I had finished reading I diligently looked them all up in order to figure out what Stoker was really saying. This time round I seem to know a lot of the meanings, I’m just writing them down because they sound nice or are awesome words.

Resolved

It’s funny because I was going to start this post by saying I must not be a very good blogger if I haven’t written anything since May (a post about the novel Night Swimming by Steph Bowe). But then I opened up the WordPress app on my ipad and saw that a post about a Laini Taylor novel hadn’t published properly. And then it posted twice. So three posts in one day must mean I’m an amazing blogger (though perhaps also technology inept). 

I do plan on being a better blogger. Most of this year seemed to get eaten up by work and toddler terrors, thought to be fair I read a lot instead of doing much else in my spare time. I still plan on doing that, the reading that is, I just plan to make more of a conscious effort to blog about it too. Fridays I think, because that’s when I’ll have the time. If anything, I hope it will help me broaden my vocabulary again, I’ve already seen too much repetion of words in these very short paragraphs. Though I doubt it will do anything for my terrible use of apostrophes as predictive text sorts that out for me most of the time.

I read and saw so much I wanted to write about this year. I even wrote myself notes on the back of ticket stubs and started using post its when I read. But I just never did. Not at I have an excuse either. I now have a smart phone, and still have a tablet. Small, easy, portable. Laziness just seems to win out in the end.

But not in 2018.

Banned Books

I’ve made the decision to stop buying books for a bit. I can hear your sharp intake of breath right now. You’re thinking

But you love buying books. You have a book depository wish list that is ten deep. What about all those awesome books that are about to be published?!

And believe me, I hear you. I pretty much buy a book every time I go out. And that’s kind of my problem. While my wish list is ten books long, so is my physical to be read pile. And they’ve been piling up since Christmas.

I’ve got the new Maria V Snyder and a new Traci Harding. Plus Sebastian Bach’s memoir (the rock one, not the classical one). Plus I’m only like a hundred sites into 1001 Historical sites you should see before you die, I haven’t even ventured out of the Americas yet.

So I’m sticking to this self imposed ban until I do some reading. Or maybe just until the new Patrick Ness is out next week.

16. A book that’s guaranteed to bring you joy

There has been much debate in my household as to what is actually meant by this category. How do we define joy? How can it be seen and measured? As avid readers don’t all books bring us joy? 

I feel like this is a gimme category that I should perhaps be saving for later when I find a book I can’t categorise. But unlucky for me (or really lucky for me, because it’s the best book ever) I have already found that uncatergorisable book.

My mum got me this for Christmas because she knew I would love it. And I do. 

I love a book about books. I’ve got many a book which lists other books and explains why they are important. And that’s why this book brings me joy. It has shown me so many other books that I need to read, or that I need to share with other people.

Each of those post its represent another book that needs to be read. It’s the book that keeps on giving. I think.you can never have too many books. I’m moving house soon and my husband went round counting our bookshelves and right now we have 8. All full. And that’s even after I did a huge cull when I rearranged our furniture last year. I don’t even keep many of them to reread, I just keep them because I like looking at them.

They bring me joy.

30. A Book from a Non-human perspective

First of all I can’t believe there is no graphic novel on the reading challenge list this year. I don’t read many but I like the opportunity to read at least one, especially as I have this series that I need to keep up with.

This could have been my blue cover book, but I don’t want to read a book from an animal’s perspective, so fantasy is a good fit for non-human characters (no one said they couldn’t be humanoid).

My favourite characters in this series are a little seal, a lie detecting cat and a prince who has a television for a head (in fact their entire race a TV headed robots, but I like the prince best).

This is one of those Romeo and  Juliet fantasy stories set to the back drop of war. Two people not supposed to be together, let alone fall in love, and well what do you know they do and have a kid to boot. 

The whole story is told from the kid’s perspective and follows the journey of her parents, and others, as they try to find her. It’s got all your classic fantasy/sci-fi alien lessons about understanding and prejudice and war and peace. And therefore it’s also got all your non-human characters and so fits this category perfectly. There is not one human, as we are human, human characters in the whole thing.

Reading Challenge 2017

Every year I complete a reading challenge. For the past three years this challenge has been set by my colleagues at work and is based on the Read Harder model.

Reading Harder means picking up books that you never normally would. It’s not about reading more in quantity, but makes you read more widely. Because we all know if I really had the choice I would just read YA non stop all year.

So this challenges gets you to read 50 different books that are each used to fill one category on the list.

Sometimes I plan what I am going to use for each category and other times I have to do a bit of tweaking to make the book I want to read fit. This year I think there is going to need to be a lot of planning as the categories are more specific than ever.

Category

Title

Author

1

A book based on a fairy tale

2

A Young Adult bestseller

3

A book set in your home state

4

A book translated into English

5

A book set in Europe

6

A book that’s becoming a movie this year

7

A book written by a celebrity

8

A book at least 100 years older than you

9

A book recommended by a family member

10

A book with a protagonist who has your occupation

11

A book that takes place during summer

12

A book with a blue cover

13

A dystopian novel

14

A book about a road trip

15

A book that takes place on an island

16

A book that’s guaranteed to bring you joy

17

A book written by a local author

18

A book published this year

19

A book based on a true story

20

A book whose author has an X in their name

21

A ghost story

22

A book with a month in the title

23

A book by a female author

24

A book recommended by a librarian

25

A book that is a story within a story

26

A book with multiple authors

27

A book with a cat on the cover

28

A book by an author who uses a pseudonym

29

A book with a subtitle

30

A book from a non-human perspective

31

A steampunk novel

32

A book set in two different time periods

33

A book set in a hotel

34

A book that’s been mentioned in another book

35

A book from a genre you’ve never read before

36

A book with a synonym for chase in the title

37

A book by an indigenous author

38

A book of short stories

39

A book by your favourite author

40

The first book in a series

41

A book with more than 350 pages

42

A book about history or science

43

A prize winning book

44

A book by an author you’ve never read

45

A classic

46

A book of poems

47

A play

48

A book with an alliterative title

49

A book with a great first line.

50

A book you love – read it again!

And the cupboard was bare

So I’m not really one for resolutions, mostly because I don’t have the will power to stick to them. The only promise I make to myself every year is to read as many books as I possibly can (check out this year’s reading challenge in an upcoming post).

But then I saw this article on Twitter about not buying any clothes for a year and I thought 

Maybe I can do that

For those of you that know me, you know this is going to be a challenge. I see shopping as a sport, one I’d get a gold medal in at the Olympics if the world felt the same way as me about commerce. I go every weekend, and while I don’t always buy something, I’m not stopping myself from buying anything either.

But the article made me stop and think about why I buy new things at all. It’s not like I desperately need them. My wardrobe spans to one of my kids bedrooms and takes up half the space under my bed. Even with that much stuff to choose from I still end up wearing the same few things over and over. So then I thought maybe I should just stop buying things. The same day I read the article I went to the shops again (no surprises there) but I didn’t buy anything. Not because I didn’t see anything I liked, but because I chose not to. And it was totally liberating. 

Walking through those shops knowing I wasn’t going to buy anything just made it so much more stress free. I didn’t have to worry about.whay was on sale, or try anything on only to feel not good in it. I was simply at the shops.

Now don’t think I’ve completely lost my head. It’s only clothes shopping I’ve given up. On January 1 I was in IKEA purchasing up a storm. And there is no way in the world I would.ever stop buying books. But a smaller wardrobe starts with a single step away from the shopping centre.