Tag Archives: Penguin Drop Caps

Using a Readathon to Kill My TBR

I have been on a book searching tear, readers!  As of late, I have gone out to some of my favorite used bookstores just to poke around and see what they may have in stock.  Meanwhile, my pile of books at home just grows and grows.  Usually, I don’t mind that because I take a perverse pleasure in the torment of having so many books that it will take me a short lifetime to get through them all.  And I am inherently cheap, so I almost never pay full price for them, therefore I don’t feel guilty for spending and not reading immediately.

I don’t understand someone who will just grab whatever’s within arm’s reach to read.  I treat the moment I chose my next read like a ceremonial experience- I pace the apartment, perusing all physical books I have in the various places and bookshelves.  Maybe I will look through my digital collections on my Kindle, Kobo, and Nook.  I may go to the three online library branches I have access to via Overdrive and see what’s available immediately for download.  I have been known to walk over to the local library to see what they have on hand.  I also see what’s available in audio format from the libraries and in my Audible account that I haven’t yet heard.  As you can see- it’s a damn production.

But now my ever expanding TBR is even starting to worry me.  So you can only image how bad it must be!  I need to bust up this trend and start to knock out some books so I can purge and start all over again.  (Especially with Independent Bookstore Day occurring on my birthday this year.  Coincidence? I think not!)

While I was scanning through Twitter, I saw the announcement of the next Dewey’s 24 Hour Readathon this Saturday, April 23rd and I thought- YES!  Sign me up!  It’s the answer to my prayers.  I remember watching all the hullabaloo that accompanied the last session they held, and it looked like a lot of fun for readers. So I just signed up, and it sparked this post.  Win-win!

Now comes the joy of preparing for the readathon.  I have a lot of recent acquisitions that I am excited to dive into but am not sure if it’s the right material for this type of exercise.  I think that you want some short, fast and engaging reads to kick out and feel like you are making progress.  I recently was awarded a bonus from work which comes in the form of Amazon gift cards.  With that award, I purchased the Penguin Little Black Classics Set.  These are slim enough to feel like you are making traction in your limited time. So those will be peppered through the event.

The set of Penguin publisher's Little Black Classic books.
The set of Penguin publisher’s Little Black Classic books.

In thinking through what else to pick, I have arrived at a decision matrix:

  • preferably under 300 pages
  • fast paced read
  • guaranteed delighter
  • nothing that will require me to stop and contemplate it’s meaning
  • something I have been looking forward to
  • also, something that I will drop in a heartbeat if it isn’t working for me or I can’t glide through it with ease

And without further adieu, here is my list of potential reads for the Dewey 24 Hour Readathon!

The list of books that I am going to draw from in the 24 hour Dewey's Readathon.
The list of books that I am going to draw from in the 24 hour Dewey’s Readathon.

I am not going to list them all here, because I certainly won’t get to them all.  But I will post an update when I have completed the event, and we will see how far I got!

Let’s meet back here on Sunday, April 24th, shall we?

Weekend Book Haul

I went on a book hunt this weekend,  stopping at a few great bookstores with very strong used book sections.  Here are the things I look for in a used bookstore:

  • variety of newish hardbacks, some high quality volumes of classic hardbacks, and quality trade paperback books
  • a mix of high brow literary fiction with NYT best sellers
  • surprises in the stacks- I would rather see more authors than half a shelf of one author’s collection of works

And I know that so much of this depends upon the community that the bookshop serves, as used books require sellers of said books.  I have a really varied list that I hunt for, so I can usually find something in any used store.  But I also always hold out hope that I will find a treasure – a pristine hardback , first edition copy of a favorite book, or a unique and beautiful cover of a favorite, or something out of print and rare.

Bookshop #1-

Book Haul
The first of two book hauls today, 1/18/16. Two used finds- Homer and Langley by E.L. Doctorow, The Fifth Season by N.K. Jennison and an exciting new book with a fantastic title of Your Hear is a Muscle the Size of A Fist by Sunil Yapa.


At the first bookshop I found a good quality copy of a book that I have been seeking for over a year- E.L. Doctorow’s Homer & Langley.

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. Doctorow, whose literary trophy shelf has got to be overflowing by now, delivers a small but sweeping masterpiece about the infamous New York hermits, the Collyer brothers. When WWI hits and the Spanish flu pandemic kills Homer and Langley’s parents, Langley, the elder, goes to war, with his Columbia education and his godlike immunity to such an ordinary fate as death in a war. Homer, alone and going blind, faces a world considerably dimmed though more deliciously felt by his other senses. When Langley returns, real darkness descends on the eccentric orphans: inside their shuttered Fifth Avenue mansion, Langley hoards newspaper clippings and starts innumerable science projects, each eventually abandoned, though he continues to imagine them in increasingly bizarre ways, which he then recites to Homer. Occasionally, outsiders wander through the house, exposing it as a living museum of artifacts, Americana, obscurity and simmering madness. Doctorow’s achievement is in not undermining the dignity of two brothers who share a lush landscape built on imagination and incapacities. It’s a feat of distillation, vision and sympathy. (Sept.)

The other used book I grabbed is an almost pristine paperback copy of an author who I am so excited to read after having been pointed in her direction by many people whose taste I trust, and that is The Fifth Season by N.K. Jennison. And I will be choosing either this, or her other work, The Killing Moon,  for one of the categories in the 2016 Read Harder Challenge – Read the first book in a series written by a person of color. Since I was already planning to read her work, this is just a bonus!

And the last book is a new release, published this month- Sunil Yapa’s fantastically titled book, Your Heart is a Muscle the Size of a Fist.  It’s been compared to one of my favorite novels of 2014, The Flamethrowers by Rachel Kushner.  Yapa’s is set in the tumultuous times of the WTO protests in Seattle of 1999.  It’s getting great buzz, and the author will be touring for the book, so I hope to have it read before he comes through.

Bookshop #2-

The second stop was a place that I usually go to search for Penguin Drop Cap books.  I only have letters A (for Austen), H (for Hesse) and P (for Marcel Proust).  Unfortunately, they only had M (for Melville) and it was new.  Part of the fun, and stress, is to get used editions to build my library.  I decided not to get that one, and instead perused the stacks to see what else I could find.

I was happily surprised to see a hardcover of the newly released And Again by Jessica Chiarella just sitting on the shelf waiting for me.  I read some good press about it and since it was being sold at a used price, I figured I would take a chance and grab it.   It’s a debut novel about 4 people who are given the chance to participate in a new program to give them their former bodies, free of illness and genetically perfect.  I find the premise very compelling, so I am hopeful about this work.

And then I have wanted to read a Christopher Isherwood work since I saw the movie made of A Single Man, directed by Tom Ford, starring Colin Firth (sigh- Mr. Darcy) and Julianne Moore.  Instead of worrying about picking the wrong pathway book into his work, I figured I would just start with this one, especially when I saw the beautiful cover.  I will probably hold onto this book for a while, without starting it immediately, just knowing that this gorgeous edition is sitting on my shelf for the right time.

All in all, I would call this a very successful book haul!