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.

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Bargain Buy

So I’ve had my first book fail of the year. Though I don’t really think of it as a fail because my mantra is to not finish books you don’t enjoy. The only downside to that is the impact it has on my reading challenge. I hate wasting my limited reading time.

In my book buying spree earlier this month I bought a seven dollar book.

This book.

It had a good premise. Writers writing mean things about other writers. But it is super labourious. Mostly because it starts with ancient authors and works it way to the ‘present day’. And while I consider myself well read, I don’t really care about the beefs in Ancient Greece or the Elizabethan era. Their language is so dense and soporific, I’ve only just made it to the Romantic era and I’ve been reading since the beginning of the month.

The other problem is you only get the nasty bits. Snippets of essays and letters without context. There are a billion footnotes explaining things, but who has time for footnotes? I don’t feel like I am really learning anything and are often more confused than not.

It’s not a bad book for reading before bed though. If I read a novel then I dream the novel and have an unfitful sleep. If I red this it puts me to sleep, and no dreams. That’s a win.

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.

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!

Reading, reading, reading

It seems like I am a passenger of the reading train, and it doesn’t stop for anything – not even blogs.

These are what have kept me from blogging this month

 
These and an inherent laziness that I can’t seem to shake.

Next month I plan on doing an exponential clutter clearing challenge and also pledge to blog every day. It seems if I don’t set myself that goal and write it down it just doesn’t get done.
Coming up on my next blog: back to the every day grind. 

There Will Be Blogs

March has been an excellent reading month for me, which should mean it is also an excellent blogging month. But while I have found the time to sit down and read I haven’t really found the motivation to sit down and write. This is mostly because I would have to use my brain and at the moment it’s a little bit mush.
Any spare time I have had lately I have given over to eating and sleeping and some reading. Blogging just hasn’t been high on my list of priorities.
But I promise to be better.
I’ve got four books to write about and I will endeavour to do it before the end of the month.

Coming up on my next blog: Writing, writing, writing.

8. A Funny Book

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I am not quite sure what to write about this book. I am not even sure I should be putting it on my list, because while it’s author and publishers obviously intended for it to be funny, I can probably count on one hand how many times I laughed aloud.
I guess I am just disappointed. I like David Mitchell as a comedian a lot. He is always good when he is on QI and I enjoy many parts of The Mitchell and Webb Look. His humour just doesn’t seem to have translated into this collection of articles.

To be honest, I didn’t realise that this was just a collection of articles when I bought it. I did think it would be humorous essays of some kind, but the fact that he has just picked some articles that he has already written does not work well for him. I understand it’s a tried and true format for many column writers, heck it’s what gives Carrie Bradshaw her big break (yes, I know she is fictional, but it’s a good example anyway), but I feel like Mitchell just threw all his old articles in the air and whichever ones he could catch are the ones that went into this book.
Many of them are incredibly dated, like those about the GFC, or they are just very British, like those about the 2010 General Election. As a non-Briton none of that is really funny to me, I have my own political pundits from my own country to laugh at.
That’s not to say everything that he is writing about is irrelevant. Whenever he mentions himself and his childhood you cannot help but laugh. He has that classic self-deprecating tone that is the basis of all good humour. His social commentary is also good for a laugh, it’s just that there doesn’t seem to be enough of it.

One thing that really irked me about this book was it’s structure. I don’t mind that Mitchell has grouped his columns together into themes and that each has a little introduction. It helps to give some semblance of order and purpose to an otherwise ramshackle collection. What I do mind is that he has taken out all the headlines. You don’t know what each of the columns was called, and therefore don’t have any real clue as to what they are about before you start reading them. Often it is very difficult to see how one article relates to the others in each section. And yes he may have said it in the introduction to that section but I can’t remember back that far.

I did learn something reading this book though. I need to stick a post it to the front if every book I read this year so that when something comes up that I want to write about later I will remember it. Sure I could do gear the page, but to me that’s a desecration of the sanctity of a book, plus I probably still wouldn’t remember what it was on that page that I had wanted to write about.

Coming up on my next blog: 11 days until D day.

99 bottles of beer on the wall

I was going to call this post

84 books on the shelf

But it doesn’t have quite the same ring to it, and while the tune might be playing in my head it certainly wouldn’t be playing in yours.

84/100 is a very bad stat for me at this time of year. We are only four days off the end of November and therefore 35 days off the end of the year and I should be much further towards reaching my goal by now. Fifteen books in thirty five days is a big ask.

To compensate I am currently reading two at the same time. It works, because one of them, Break Down, I can’t read at night because it is too unsettling. That is one gripe I have about the dystopian genre. Why does so much bad stuff have to happen? Why can’t the characters just catch a break and perhaps survive despite the mess the world is in?

So before bed I am rereading Sabriel. I find that the rereading helps too because I am not so stressed about what will happen because I know I like it and I was happy when I read it the first time. I’m reading it because I recently finished Garth Nix’s new book Clariel which is in the same series but set a long time before. I had forgotten just how much I love his writing and am hoping he will continue to write others based in the same world and fill in the gaps between Clariel and Sabriel.

I’ve also just been given both Jurassic Park novels to read in anticipation of the next film coming out mid next year. I figure I will probably be able to knock them over quickly because the are written by Michael Crichton. There seems to be this rule with Crichton’s novels that you’re not allowed to run a second hand book stall at a fete without having a copy of Prey for sale. Which means his novels are either very quick and easy to read, or that nobody likes them.

If you love Jurassic Park as much as I do you may want to watch the new trailer here. It won’t be the same without Jeff Goldblum and Sam Neill, and it’s kind of sad Sir Richard Attenborough isn’t alive to see his park open to the public, but I’m definitely going to see it anyway.

Say it Loud

Did you know that today is International Read Aloud Day?
I didn’t until yesterday. But that didn’t stop me from jumping on the band wagon and exercising my vocal chords.
I shared one of my favourite books aloud today.

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My grandmother bought is for me a year or two ago (she was afraid that I was going to permanently borrow a copy from my work and so got me one of my own). I love this book because it is so funny and I like reading the voices.

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My favourite joke is the mouse.
I also read a little of In Cold Blood and I Capture the Castle, just a few pages to get my audience hooked.

I find reading aloud a great way to get people to want to read something. I am of the

judge a book by its cover

school ad so often don’t know what I am missing. And often it’s not enough to say

oh this book is about such and such

I don’t know if I will like such and such. I need to know what it sounds like or feels like.

But you have to have someone who reads well. Or at least with passion. There is nothing worse than a monotone drone to ruin even the most exciting story.

Coming up on my next blog: I can prove to you I have taken up swimming.