Bibelots

a place for the curious

Tag: reading (page 1 of 2)

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.

Battle of the books

a woman smokes a cigarette while reading the paper

Longing for one story
while reading another.

I am currently reading two books.

Actually, that’s not quite right. I’m currently obsessed with two particular books. And I’m cheating on one.

I thought about disclosing what they are, but I wouldn’t like to bias your opinion for one combatant over the other. Both books have strangely connecting themes. Both are written by authors with the first name ‘Miranda’. (I may have already said too much.)

Both books are good reads. They’re both weird and both make me feel slightly uncomfortable, but in very different ways. When I wake up I think ‘I can’t wait to read that book by Miranda’. This thought is immediately followed by several minutes of guilt over who might win the competition for first read of the day.

How did all this happen? Why are these Mirandas in such fierce competition. What can I do to avoid it all again?

Not much. Not unless I can somehow remove deadlines from my existence, especially any to do with reading.

We’ve all experienced the battle of the books at one time or another. A book might need to be read in time for a book club discussion. Another could be an overdue library book, delicately nibbling at your conscience and your bank account in the form of overdue fees. Or maybe it’s a treasured loan from a good friend, and its continued presence in your house almost ensures an ending of coffee-stained proportions.

I’ve been through all of it. And more. The root cause of the problem is not that first, sweet, innocent book. It is always another book. One that is too damn good to put down. It’s suave. It’s appealing. It is the ‘other’ book.

It is the book that forces you to read at every opportunity. A minute in the lift? Read. Is that a red don’t walk signal flashing before you? Read. You read as you walk, as you eat and, yes, if you could, you’d do it in the shower. This unstoppable, delectable, almost-edible book is forcing you to cheat on your main read. And, time to admit it now, you’re loving it.

The terrible guilt-ridden shame of it all.

There’s no choice. You can never put down a ‘can’t put it down’ book. It has to be read. Fines, stains, guilt complexes and disapproving looks be damned. The ‘other’ book always wins.

In that sense, this current battle of the books is no different to any other. Except that usually, when the battle is on, one book is pulling ahead. Not this time. They are equally intriguing. I know I should just put down my-deadline free book and read what I’m meant to be reading. But, I’m not. It’s the same problem, no matter how I try to deny it.

I’ve tried keeping them at separate ends of the house. Making one a bedtime only book. Taking only the deadline-Miranda on the train with me. It doesn’t help. A good book calls to you. It must be read. There’s no logic to it. It’s why deadlines and reading for pleasure can never be friends.

Yes. I am, truly, reading two books. As and when I see fit. And loving it.

(Please don’t let either of them know, okay?)

I REMEMBER

a book signed by terry pratchettI remember the day I met Sir Terry Pratchett.

He wasn’t a sir then, but he was already popular. I live on the wrong side of the turtle, so I’d been reading him for many years before I had the chance to meet him in the flesh.

I can still see his face, the room, the books.

Terry had been signing those books all day. He was short-tempered because his hand hurt. He should have been furious. We ask so much of authors like him. Terry looked at me suspiciously when I told him my name. He wrote it down, but seemed certain I’d made it up in some way. I’d been in an accident the night before, so I can imagine how I looked. The staff of the bookshop had kindly given me a chair to sit on as I waited in the queue and I was sleepy from the painkillers. I remember the eyebrow he raised as I approached. I remember it and I treasure it.

It wasn’t a very long wait as book-signings go, but it didn’t matter. I would have waited an eternity.

When I heard of his death this morning, I found I couldn’t move. It wasn’t a surprise, but it was devastating all the same.

I thought all day about when to write this post. I thought it might be better if I left it until I’m less angry. Less lost. And then I re-read Neil Gaiman’s article on the angry man that was Terry Pratchett.

‘I rage at the imminent loss of my friend. And I think, “What would Terry do with this anger?” Then I pick up my pen, and I start to write.’
Neil Gaiman

I also read Scott Lynch’s furious There is no Past Tense of Terry Pratchett. So, anger and sadness be damned – here I am.

I’m not angry that Terry has left the world so soon. If there was anyone that could fight Death, it was him. I doubt he left quietly.

I’m not angry that the Discworld has stopped at Raising Steam. What a gift it was. The finest of books in the finest of series. How can I be angry in the face of such of riches.

I could never be angry for the words he left behind. There are so damned many. And they can never be erased. If they burnt every book and tried to erase him from the libraries, the orangutangs and I would still hold his memory. Perhaps not every word – not exactly as it spilled across the page – but the way of his words, his way of seeing things, and the way he could shine a light upon an otherwise upside-down world.

His works don’t stop here. They can’t stop. His words and his worlds live on. His fans, to who he was so giving and so generous, will carry them always.

We will be forever grateful.

So, why am I angry? I’m angry for the way that we lost him. That we had to lose him at all. What I want to say here, falls apart. I stare at this paragraph and the screen blurs. It is futile and it is anger. It is loss.

Since my teenage years, Terry has been a constant thread in my life, from the first word to the last. When the internet came along, he was there with it. When The L-Space web and afp were built, if you lurked and were patient, you would find traces of his presence.

His constancy has been his words. His words and his vivid, insightful, incredible imagination.

I was asked recently about authors that have influenced me. Without notice, it’s an unfair question and, while I came up with some good authors at the time, Isaac Asimov included, I left out so many. Including Sir Terry. Because he wasn’t an influence. He was bigger and wilder than that. His words were everywhere. He was a flood. A constant, bright and shining wonder.

I have more than once taken the time to try and tell him what he meant to me. By email, in person, in dedications. And, if only the once and only briefly, I think that he heard. I still have his reply. What I told him wasn’t enough. It couldn’t be. How could I ever find words big enough to pay back the incredible debt of gratitude I owe him?

I was a stranger to him, but he resided deep in my heart and mind. And, although he is gone, it is there I will forever find him. There and in the pages of his books.

Farewell, Sir Terry.

In your words you live on.

‘Up on the mountains, as the blizzards closed in, there was a red glow in the snow. It was there all winter, and when the spring gales blew, the rubies glittered in the sunshine.

No one remembers the singer. The song remains.’

— Terry Pratchett, The Last Hero

 

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