October 2016 Readathon Wrap-Up

Well, I’ve finished my second readathon, and it was everything I expected it to be and more.

I learned so many things. Here are some of them:

•Audiobooks are my friend.

I took two one-hour walks yesterday. They really helped both my mood and my body, and because I had my audiobook, I was still making progress on my reading goals.

Start early and stay late. Read More

Readathon Hour #5 1/2 Check-In

Coming up for air after several hours of bookish fun!

When I got my hair cut yesterday, the hairdresser asked if I had any exciting plans for the weekend.

I answered enthusiastically that I was going to have the house to myself and read for twenty-four hours.

“That sounds great!” The exclamation mark in her voice was so unexpected, I wondered if it was sincere or if she would have responded the same way if I’d said I was going to be working on a mosaic made entirely from the legs of insects or that I was excited to start my study-at-home chimney sweep course. “Is it for a cause or anything, or just for fun?” she asked.

“Oh, just for fun,” I answered, trying not to sound sheepish. I’d only had very fleeting thoughts of using the readathon as a way to raise money for a cause, and her question reminded me of what an indulgent weekend I’d planned for myself.

I’ve mostly brushed it aside, though, in the excitement of reading all day! I refuse to even feel nerdy about it because it’s just so awesome!

An Early Start: October 21

I found myself with some time Friday afternoon and evening and was craving something kind of scary, so I started the readathon early with Neil Gaiman’s The Ocean at the End of the Lane on audio. I’ll write up a thorough review after the readathon, but for now I’ll just say that although the choice was semi-accidental (the other audio books I’d planned to check out for the readathon had already been checked out), it was absolutely perfect for my mood, the weather, and my circumstances Friday evening. And it gave me a chance to get food prepped for the main event!

The Real Readathon: October 22




I started the day with a ten-page sprint through all of my readathon books. I got the idea from the Dewey’s 24 Hour Readathon site. Basically, I read the first ten pages of every readathon book. The sprint led to three realizations:

  1. I’ve picked some awesome books for the readathon.
  2. I picked too many awesome books for the readathon.
  3. I read about one page per minute (at least when I’m doing a ten-page-per-book sprint).

After the sprint (and the kale salad).

After the sprint, I decided to focus on Those Who Leave and Those Who Stay by Elena Ferrante and In the Woods by Tana French for my paper books, and Donna Tartt’s The Goldfinch for my audiobook (it’s 32 hours long, though, so unless I find a way to stretch time, I won’t be finishing that one before 8am tomorrow).

Snacks: Kale salad with tahini dressing and 32 ounces of water.


Listened to The Goldfinch while I took a long walk then ate lunch and did some chores around the house (put out the new door mats, noticed that we really need our gutters cleaned, wiped down the bathrooms).

Lunch: leftover vegetable stir fry, a brown rice tortilla, chocolate-covered frozen banana slices, and a handful of roasted squash seeds.


Read twenty-odd pages of Those Who Leave and Those Who Stay.


Blog update!

Other notes:

-This morning I decided on a whim not to turn on any lights today. This works fine except in the kitchen, which is in the middle of the house and far enough away from windows that detail work is a little difficult. I use an oil lamp in there and imagine I’m on the Hempstock’s farm.

-I’m making updates in my newly-started bullet journal, but they’re not nearly as cute as other people’s bullet journal updates, so I won’t be posting any photos of my bullet journal unless I feel inspired to bust out the colored pencils and cuten things up next time I’ve got the audiobook going.

-I sense that I’m getting a little restless, so I might seek a change of venue soon. I was going to walk to the library, but walking 2 1/2 miles to the library in the rain sounds only slightly more appealing than walking 2 1/2 miles back home in the rain. So if the rain keeps up, maybe I’ll seek out another reading nook under my own roof.


My primary reading area, complete with cat.

Okay, off to visit a few other readathoner’s blogs, and I just realized I’ve not yet had any coffee so I’m going to go make some coffee, and then hit the books again.

Woo-hoo! Readathon!

Readathon Preparations

With today’s trip to the library, my Dewey’s 24-Hour Readathon pile is ready for Saturday!


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Strangely Specific


“In Memory of Jacob, third son of Capt. Jacob Rice, died May 7, 1818 AEt. 9 yrs. His death was occasioned by the fall of a dung fork, one tine penetrating his brain.”

Whenever we walk through the cemetery, I make my way to this particular headstone. The inscription intrigues me. I can understand the willow tree, but I wonder what prompted Jacob’s parents—assuming they chose the inscription—to be so specific about the cause of the boy’s death.

Did Captain and Mrs. Rice, in their grieving, turn the event over and over in their minds until it just seemed natural to put it on their son’s gravestone? If this were the case, I would expect there to be more examples of specific gravestones, especially for children.

Could they have placed it there as a kind of public service announcement, a caution to other parents? Perhaps not; I suspect that parents in nineteenth-century New England were well acquainted with the dangers of agrarian life.

Maybe the dung fork was improperly stored by a neighbor, employee, or relative, and this inscription is there as a public reminder of this person’s negligence and its tragic results. Anyone who walked by the churchyard stone in the years that followed would know the story and wouldn’t need to see the name of the person to know about whom this message referred. It would be a quiet but very public shaming.

This last possibility feels particularly New England to me, but I don’t know if it’s the true story. The vital records available online record only that Jacob Rice died “of a wound in the head” at age 8 years 8 months and 11 days. It’s possible I could learn more about this incident if I went through town or church records (which I suppose at that time were the same thing), but for now I’m content to speculate.

The Buried Giant by Kazuo Ishiguro

22522805Often, especially when I’m trying to sleep, memories come to me bringing old emotions into the present, leaving me feeling embarrassed or angry or scared—and inevitably tired because they keep my brain churning instead of sleeping. Periodically, I wish there were a way to selectively erase these uncomfortable memories, à la Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, or to declutter them like I do my children’s outgrown toys, leaving me who I am with the benefit of these character-building experiences but without the memory and emotions of the actual experiences themselves. Inevitably I decide I’m better off with all of my memories, which is all the better because they’re here whether I want to scrap them or not, but The Buried Giant has me debating with myself yet again just which would be better, remembering or forgetting. Read More


Weekly Walk 52

Well, we did it.

On a chilly, overcast morning a week after the autumnal equinox, we hit the trail with the tallest member of our family for our fifty-second walk.

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Bookends: September 2016

September was here and gone with more stealth than the LEGO bricks that appear under my feet as I run across the room in an attempt to shoo the retching cat so that he eructs his hairball onto the bare floor. Thankfully, the past month was less unpleasant than cleaning up cat sick from the rug and much less painful than stepping on educational building toys made exclusively of corners (although come to think of it, I did a little of each in the past thirty days). We picked apples, got our first colds of autumn, bought a new toilet, put up two birdbaths, and found a new logic curriculum.

The logic curriculum is a big hit, by the way. My only complaint is that I can no longer talk to anyone without silently noting to myself which logical fallacies my conversational companion is employing. My friend shares an anecdote and “tu quoque” whispers through my mind. As I mentally attempt to bat that one away, “ad hominem” alights on my shoulder. All the while I pray that my face is still fixed in an expression of active interest rather than in a vacant smile.

If I were still of an age and temperament to be interested in excessive alcohol consumption, I would put this new-found superpower to good use and turn the next presidential debate into a logical fallacy drinking game. Since I don’t feel much like having my stomach pumped, I’ll just have to content myself with being a surreptitious ass (albeit kind of a classy ass because I’m judging in Latin and Latin’s classy).

When I wasn’t silently judging the unsound arguments and false premises of my unsuspecting friends and acquaintances this September, I was reading. Here’s some of what I read:

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Weekly Walk 51

On the autumnal equinox, in 85-degree, sunny weather, we took our fifty-first weekly walk. For the first time, we forgot hats.


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Weekly Walk 50

We hiked our fiftieth hike twelve weeks after the summer solstice. Only two more to go until we’ve finished the full year, and only one more until astronomical autumn (unless we hike late this week, in which case number fifty was our last summer hike).

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Weekly Walk 49

On Labor Day, eleven weeks after the summer solstice, we took an afternoon family hike, my spouse, the two kids, and me.

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