As luck would have it, the eclipse has reawakened my desire to blog about books. What a perfect time to do it, as it’s also the start of the Bout of Books #20!
I have wanted to do this specific reading challenge for a while, but the timing was never right. But the stars, sun and moon have apparently all aligned to make this the time for me to finally meet this challenge. Quite literally, I was looking at my bullet journal, trying to determine my goals for the week. It looked pretty sparse from a work perspective, and right then I glanced at Litsy and noticed a photo of a lovely TBR with the #boutofbooks and I was intrigued. I followed the links and next thing you know, I was signed up.
A new kind of challenge
This will be the first time I have done a week-long challenge, Monday through Sunday. I tend to enjoy weekend readathons. But this seems like a great opportunity to bust through some books that I brought back from my summer trip to London and Oxford! I made it through a few for the last 24 in 48 Readathon and even won a prize for this post which was a challenge to recommend some books that would fulfill the Own Voices/Diverse Books requirement. But there are more just waiting for me to crack open. So the timing couldn’t be better.
Now, I just need to narrow down what I want to read. As I have mentioned before, I am a mood reader. I never know what I will want to read until I am ready to pick up a new book. I am also someone who will read many books simultaneously. Needless to say, I have quite a few in rotation at the moment.
I lead a book club at work and this was the choice for the month. It’s a very interesting non-fiction look at the Salem Witch Trials and the impact it had on the region and history. It’s a long book and a bit of a beast. I have to get it done by Thursday when we are set to have our discussion on it. I am only 20% through it now, so this challenge will be very helpful in getting me focused.
I picked this one up on the excellent advice of Jack, the bookseller at Daunt Books in London. Their shop is so lovely and he had such fantastic recommendations. This is a historical murder mystery set in London in 1666. The tagline of the book reads: “1666. As the city burns, the hunt for a killer begins.” How could I resist?! A bonus is that one of the characters mentioned, Dr. Christopher Wren is someone who designed many buildings around Oxford, where I stayed for a week this summer. So that is a lovely surprise! I am about 22% of the way through that one.
I am listening to the audiobook version of this novel, which just made the 2017 Man Booker Prize Longlist. I just started it this morning, but am in love with it already. I hope to hustle through this one on my commute!
I was granted access to this Advanced Reader Copy of this book and am making my way through it, also. It’s a nice counterpoint to the first book above, as this is a more modern feminist take the role of witches in our society. I am about 13% through that one, as well.
Hoping to get to:
I make no promises, but I am itching to start the N.K. Jemisin Broken Earth trilogy, starting with The Fifth Season. I was thrilled to hear that she shattered the record books for winning the Hugo Award two years in a row for this series. Now that she just published the third, critics are suggesting she might also win it next year because it’s just THAT good. I am loathe to start a series before I know that it will wrap up well. I have been burnt too many times to trust that a novelist can close an arc of a series well.
Other than that, we will just have to see what the week presents in terms of reading material. I have some holds that may come in that could be fun to try to add in:
It’s the day after the epic Dewey’s 24 Hr Readathon. I am incredibly pleased with my progress this time. I was able to finish 8 books! I learned so much from the first time I jumped into the deep end by doing this event last year.
Here are the things I learned last year that helped me this time:
Keep a mix of short novellas and stories on hand to build some early progress and confidence that you will make your number goal. Anything under 200 pages is perfect for this purpose.
Add some graphic novels as palate cleansers to help you switch context and give your eyes and brain a little bit of a break.
Consider having some lighter than normal material included that you can fly through quickly. To really put some numbers on your personal board, you may need to skim pages, and that is always easier with less intense or heavy reading material.
Read things you love. If you have a favorite series or genre, lean into that instead of trying a lot of new stuff. Or if you want to take a chance, then choose one option that’s new for you but otherwise, stay in your lane and read like the wind!
It’s crucial in a readathon to dump and run if a book isn’t hitting you in the right way early on. You don’t have time to waste. Set a limit as to the pages you will struggle with before shelving it for something you will like and breeze through. My advice would be 10-20 pages.
Audiobooks may allow you to be mobile, but for you to even possibly finish one, you have to speed it up to chipmunk speed or choose a super short one that is also sped up. (Oliver Saks’ Gratitude is a great option!) That’s pretty tough, so choose wisely or just assume that you may not finish it in the 24 hours allotted.
Here are some things that I learned this time for next year:
It’s important to go outside and walk. I live in a very bustling neighborhood. I should have forced myself outside for coffee at a cafe and to get a croissant or something while I was there. But I got sucked into my first book and didn’t make it out until lunch. By that time, I was wandering around indecisive with hunger and looking for a restaurant that was quiet enough to keep reading. BAD PLANNING! Next time I will get up a little before the readathon starts, shower and walk to a cafe to put some steps on the Fitbit and not stay on the couch all morning, afternoon and night.
Make sure I have slim but fun reads. I have a lot of novellas and short works to read, but the subject matter isn’t really light. And while I like a weird book every once and a while, I don’t enjoy reading them back to back. A lot of what I have on hand are indie press works, which tend to be a bit more experimental, or works that were recommended because of their beautiful use of language. For those books, I love nothing more than reading an amazing sentence or paragraph and just stopping to let it resonate and wash over me. You really don’t have time to savor in a readathon. So I will think this one through a bit more as I plan my pile for the next event.
I suggest having a to be read pile but don’t limit yourself to it. I had a nice stack, but at one point kept looking at it and wasn’t very inspired. Luckily, I was home and able to look at my shelves and pick something out on impulse which ended up being perfect.
Plan a fun outing for yourself where you can incorporate reading. The first time I did the readathon I scheduled a reflexology appointment for the same day. They let you take your Kindle in and while my feet are being rubbed and all pressure points attended to, I can make progress in the most decadent way possible. I am kicking myself that I didn’t make my appointment ahead of time and got too wrapped up in the books I was reading to make plans, let alone leave the apartment. It might not be as extreme as that, but maybe a stop at your favorite library, rose garden, cafe- something that will make the day a little more special.
Spend time checking in with the community on Dewey’s site, Twitter, Litsy and Instagram. I found that I could post something on Instagram, copy the verbiage for Litsy and send it automatically to Twitter. That’s great for sharing out, but it was also important to encourage others on and keep a dialog going with everyone else doing the readathon. I saw a great tip about creating a column on Tweetdeck to follow all the #readathon posts. So every hour I would spend about 10 minutes posting, checking in and cheering or conversing. It absolutely helped me feel like I was participating within a community.
Don’t stress yourself when you hit the inevitable wall. I made it to hour 18 with solid reading and that was ok. I could have had more coffee or taken a shower and pushed myself more, but I had reached my goal and my body was telling me I was done.
I will update more in a later post on my thoughts on what I read plus my finishing stats.
I hope you had a blast if you did Dewey’s this year, and if not that you would consider doing the next one on April 29th, 2017!