Bibelots

a place for the curious

Reader with a cause

The story so far

lots of shelves of books

All the books,
from Nasjonalbiblioteket

Earlier this year, I took on the 2016 challenge set by Book Riot. There’s a lot to be read, and to make it more enjoyable I broke the categories into manageable (and unmanageable) lumps.

Having my lumps of categories has made it fun, but what’s been even more lovely has been the chats with friends as they help me with my quest to find the next great read.

So, since I’ve already had such enjoyable conversations and discovered so many wonderful books, I thought I’d share some of the darlings read so far.

I’ve not quite finished all of these, but I’m far enough along to be sure of my feelings for each one. Anything I haven’t enjoyed hasn’t made it onto this page. I’m not considering a category ‘done’ unless it’s given me something. And that something can be pause for thought, a good hearty laugh, or a chance for learning and discovery.

Friendly recommendations by stand-up citizens

From days ripe with book-loving conversations

Wonderful self-made discoveries

Not as much fun to find and with a lot less conversation

Suggestions welcome

I’m struggling to find a great choice for a couple of areas. Not that I can’t find anything at all, but I’m yet to find that one book that makes my heart yearn to read it. If you’re reading this and have a little beastie that is longing to be read, please do let me know.

  • Read a book out loud to someone else (make it short, please)
  • Read a book by or about a person that identifies as transgender (not ‘sort of fits this category’, but bang-on and damn good, if you can)

Onwards and upwards

I’m currently reading about 8 books. I got here because people keep suggesting wonderful things. And I keep starting to read them. I jump from one book to the other in a willful and glee-filled attempt to ‘read all the books‘.

So far, 2016 has been a quite magnificent reading year. If I’m going to judge this challenge’s success, I’d say it’s already won.

Where to from here? I don’t know for sure, but it’s going to be good.

Read harder or not at all

two people sit comfortably across from each other between two library shelves full of books

Getting comfy with books

I’m going to try a reading challenge this year. Not to prove how many books I can ram into a year – I’ve never been the type to sit around and boast how big, how far, how many – but to push the boundaries of exactly what I’m comfortable reading. And what I’m not.

It’s too easy to stay in your happy little comfort zone. Sometimes, when life is busy or tough, knowing your comfort zone and residing there is good and, even more, necessary. Sometimes you need to push the reading envelope a little.

This time of year there are plenty of reading challenges around. There’s one from Pop Sugar that’s quite nice, but I balked when I read their challenge of ‘A book with a blue cover’. Don’t judge a book by the proverbial, right?

Goodreads has you covered if you just want the numbers, but I do not. It’s nice though as they let you set your own goal.

I loved the look of the #BustleReads 20 book challenge. But I loved it a little too much. If I’m feeling comfy, it’s hardly a challenge at all. Yes? Yes. Still, I wholeheartedly reserve the right to go back there and plunder it if I get bored with my final challenge choice.

The challenge that I’ve gone with had a few goals that properly made me screw up my nose in discomfort. It’s still got some easy hits for me as well though. 500+ pages? Sure. Done. Horror? Um, how many can I have? Just one? Oh. But there is more challenge than ease, and so the winner is…

My preferred challenge

The 2016 Book Riot Read Harder Challenge

The challenge by Book Riot is a great list (that unfortunately is done as an image. Hello, modern web much?) You can get a text version of the list over at Goodreads.

For my own amusement, I’ve broken it into some useful groups. The point for me is to extend myself. I’m not bothered if I don’t tick all the boxes, but I do want to try and tick all the ones that make me break into a sweat.

Well, it doesn’t say it has to be an adult, right?

  • Read a book out loud to someone else

Uh, really? Do I really have to do that?

  • Read a food memoir
  • Read a biography (not memoir or autobiography)
    {I’m surprised by how much I don’t want to do this}

Oh, I didn’t realise how infrequently I do this

  • Listen to an audiobook that has won an Audie Award
  • Read a book about religion (fiction or nonfiction)
  • Read a book about politics, in your country or another (fiction or nonfiction)
  • Read a play
  • Read the first book in a series by a person of color
  • Read a book that is set in the Middle East

I’ve done this lots before, but I’m due again

  • Read a collection of essays
  • Read a book with a main character that has a mental illness
  • Read a middle grade novel
    {for Australians, this is a book aimed at kids aged around 8-12}
  • Read a book that was adapted into a movie, then watch the movie – debate which is better
  • Read a book by or about a person that identifies as transgender
  • Read a book that is by an author from Southeast Asia
  • Read a non-superhero comic that debuted in the last three years
  • Read a book originally published in the decade you were born
  • Read a book under 100 pages

Too easy, I do this all the time

  • Read a horror book
  • Read a nonfiction book about science
  • Read a book of historical fiction set before 1900
  • Read a nonfiction book about feminism or dealing with feminist themes
  • Read a book over 500 pages long
    {done, I read Elizabeth Gilbert’s The Signature of All Things}

Is it even possible not to do this?

  • Read a dystopian or post-apocalyptic novel

That’s all from me

It’s time to start reading.

Who owns this book?

A question about unread books was posted on twitter today. It gave me pause for thought:


There’s little doubt that this question has more to do with hoarding than reading, but for me it soon became a question about ownership.

Wisely, Octavia (@ReadSleepRepeat) was careful to include e-books. If she’d just said ‘books’, I could have cheated by trying to interpret that as ‘paper books’, before walking around my house counting a few dozen unread books*.

Thinking of all my copyright-free e-books, I asked Octavia whether her query was also about books you get for free — the answer was a resounding yes.

Uh-oh.

With that answer my slightly-smug feeling of  ‘I don’t have too many unread books’ started draining away.

library, black and white photo

Books, beautiful books
National Library of Norway

Here’s my problem. When I’m bored I’ll trawl through places like Project Gutenberg or the Internet Archive, searching for things that sound curious, intriguing or, at least, eminently readable. There are now hundreds and hundreds of tiny, little book bibelots, stored on my kindle and computer, waiting my possible perusal or swift reference.

Do I own these books? Of course not. Not in any financial sense. Do the ones I love belong to me as much as any book I’ve paid money for? I guess the answer has to be yes.

The question then becomes one of whether these great hoards of digital books can be counted. And to that I can say a resounding ‘not in this lifetime’. It’s just not possible. While I’m at it I might as well try and count all the pages on the internet. These books keep going out of copyright, getting uploaded and being downloaded.

It’s around about now that it all gets a little philosophical. Just who owns what anyway?

Octavia’s question was a good one as it got me to thinking. A wonderful outcome on any day. But, ultimately, it’s just not the question I want to answer. Ask me this:

What’s still out there that you haven’t yet managed to read?

The answer is, of course, everything. I can’t ever own all of it, but it’s all there. And, so, here I am. With the universe and everything in it still left to read.

 

* Is it just me or does the phrase ‘unread books’ conjure up images of story-less books roaming the midnight streets looking for words to devour. … No? Just me, then?

Listen up

People recording a radio play - black and white photo

Making a story,
The Netherlands Nationaal Archief

So, you’re going to make a podcast.

Great news. At least for me. You see, I’m a podcast addict. I walk. A lot. And everywhere I go I take a little audio show with me. If I’m on the train and there’s no  book to hand, there are a million podcasts awaiting my ears.

My question for you is: How are you going to capture my attention in this great flood of podcasts? Maybe you’ll ask me what I like and want to hear more about. Surely it’s all about what you’ve got to say, not how you say it.

Story before method, right?

Well, no. Not quite.

As any good (or struggling) writer will tell you, getting the story on the page is just part of the job. The rest will see you doing endless hours of editing and redrafting. It’s the same for everyone. Story creation is the hot rush of ideas and making stuff up. No-one makes anything flawless first time around. And we all know it. A poor edit can ruin a great idea.

Why then do so many podcasts consist of unedited talking heads? There are some great podcast topics out there. But they don’t make my adrenaline rush when I see them in my feed. I might still listen, but they are, sadly, filed under ‘quite nice’. Or worse, ’eminently skimmable’.

I organise my podcasts, not by topic, but by when and where I listen to them. One playlist is called ‘pay attention & listen’. It’s usually empty, because as soon as any of these guys land, I’m itching to listen in. I won’t do them the disservice of listening on a crowded street. I’ll find a quiet corner and make sure I don’t miss a single word. They demand it of me. Unedited talking heads do not.

If you want me to listen, give it some care and loving attention. Make it so I can’t not listen. Craft me something wonderful.

So, make it. But make it good. Right now could be the golden age of podcasts and you could be a part of it.

Yes, I love podcasts. Make it so I love yours.

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