Dewey’s October Readathon Wrapup

And here we are. Another Dewey’s in the books!

I didn’t make it 24 hours, but I didn’t really expect to, either. Around 11:30 last night, I decided I was too tired for reading to be enjoyable, and I knew I needed either to sleep or eat. I chose to sleep with the thought that I’d get a couple hours in and get up to read the last couple of hours until 5am. Instead, I slept like a rock and woke up an hour and a half after the readathon ended. Looks like neither Gilgamesh nor I won immortality this time.*

Still, I did a solid job this readathon. Let’s look at the numbers:

IMG_20181020_214036Books completed: 3

Hours read: about 14 (18 if you count the time I lost to showering and paying attention to my family)

Pages read: 593

Cats petted: 1

Cups of coffee drunk: 1 caf, 2 decaf

Miles walked: 11.68

Closing Survey

1. Which hour was most daunting for you?

Hours 19-24. Or maybe those were the least daunting because I ended up sleeping through them.

2. Tell us ALLLLL the books you read!

The Fire Next Time by James Baldwin (audio; second half finished)

The Call by Peadar Ó Guilín (audio; finished)

The Epic of Gilgamesh by Anonymous (finished)

Gilgamesh Among Us by Theodore Ziolkowski (first 39 pages)

3. Which books would you recommend to other Read-a-thoners?

The Call was a great one for a readathon. Plot-driven but with decent character development and just fun to read.

4. What’s a really rad thing we could do during the next Read-a-thon that would make you happy?

I can’t really think of anything. I feel pretty happy about the readathon as it is.

5. How likely are you to participate in the Read-a-thon again? Would you be interested in volunteering to help organize and prep?

I definitely plan to participate again, but I would not be interested in volunteering to help. I mean, I’d be interested, but I know I’d have trouble following through so I don’t want to commit even to thinking about volunteering.

Next Dewey’s is April 6, 2019. My daughter has a band concert that day, but I can probably bring a book.

In the meantime, I’m looking forward to the 24 in 48 Readathon in January!

*Uta-napishti told Gilgamesh that he could attain immortality by staying awake for six days and seven nights, and Gilgamesh promptly fell asleep for exactly that length of time, which they measured in loaves of bread, a means of calendaring I’m totally behind. Of course, I just read a 5,000-year-old book about Gilgamesh and am currently blogging on the Internet on which nothing dies, so perhaps in that sense, G and I are both immortal.

Dewey’s October Readathon – Midpoint Check-in

Well, I’ve made it to hour twelve! And unlike most other readathons, I have spent most of the past twelve hours reading (or “reading” in the case of audiobooks).

The first nearly six hours were devoted to listening to audiobooks while I walked to, up, and around a local mountain and back home. My tracking app was being temperamental but the total distance was 11.68 miles, more or less.

The hours since have been at home, reading and eating and lazing in the sunshine while my family were out running errands. They’re on their way home now, though, so we’ll see how much reading I get done in the next twelve hours.

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Mid-Event Survey:

1. What are you reading right now?

I just finished Tablet IV of The Epic of Gilgamesh. I’m reading it in translation rather than in the original cuneiform.

2. How many books have you read so far?

I finished two audiobooks, The First Next Time by James Baldwin, which I started earlier this week, and all of The Call by Peadar O’Guilin. In addition to those and the bit of Gilgamesh I’ve consumed, I also listened to about two chapters of The Penderwicks on Gardam Street during lunch with my children.

3. What book are you most looking forward to for the second half of the Read-a-thon?

I don’t have much more on my list, but once I finish Gilgamesh, I’m looking forward to Cleopatra: A Life by Stacy Schiff. Although I might just grab my daughter’s copy of The Fault in Our Stars if I get too sleepy.

4. Have you had many interruptions? How did you deal with those?

Not too many interruptions so far, but that’s about to change. Hopefully I can manage my expectations and keep my cool.

5. What surprises you most about the Read-a-thon, so far?

That I’ve read as much as I have. I really like the West Coast 5am start.

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Dewey’s Readathon – October 2018

It’s time for another Dewey’s 24 Hour Readathon!

I’ve had some trouble participating in readathons since we moved in January, but I’m hoping I’m back in action this time around.

I doubt I’ll read for the full 24 hours (I’m over 40 and have things to do tomorrow that will be easier to do if I’ve slept), but I’m going for at least twelve.

My Cavalcade of Classics will be making an appearance this time around, too, wrestling with Gilgamesh for at least part of the time.

I’ll mostly be checking in on Instagram, but I’ll try to post here for big events, like the kick-off.

My books:

The Epic of Gilgamesh (starting page: 12)

Gilgamesh Among Us by Thoedore Ziolkowski (starting page: 23)

Cleopatra: A Life by Stacy Schiff

The Fire Next Time by James Baldwin (audio; starting at 1:10:00)

The Call by Peadar O’Guilin (audio)

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Opening Survey

1) What fine part of the world are you reading from today?

I’m reading from San Diego, California. My first West Coast readathon, I’m starting at 5am Saturday with an Epic Walk and an audiobook.

2) Which book in your stack are you most looking forward to?

Probably The Epic of Gilgamesh. I’ve already read Tablet 1, and this thing is weird.

3) Which snack are you most looking forward to?

To be honest, the snacks aren’t really on my mind today. If I can manage the reading, I’m sure the snacks will fall into place.

4) Tell us a little something about yourself!

Goodness. Well, I read. I homeschool. I make homemade hand cream. I have a cat. I like to take long walks.

5) If you participated in the last read-a-thon, what’s one thing you’ll do different today? If this is your first read-a-thon, what are you most looking forward to?

My stack is much smaller this time, and I’ll be spending more time outside, starting with a three-hour walk and audiobook. Which I’d better get started!

More at the halfway mark! Catch my posts on Instagram to keep up with my adventures more frequently.

Readathon Check-in: One book down!

1:30pm: I finished one whole book! 

Fierce Kingdom is awesome, and if you’re familiar with my book reviews, you know that I rarely call a book “awesome.” It drew me through the pages, and when I got to the last page, holy heck. I’ve cried at books before, but this is the first time I’ve ugly-cried.

The whole book was just so real and vivid and it didn’t let me fall into the “good guys, bad guys” dichotomy, which would have been very comforting. 

I’m going to keep this mini-review obtuse because I don’t want to reveal too much, but I’ll say that I do wonder if I would have reacted so strongly before I had kids…and if I weren’t the main character’s age and if I didn’t go to zoos all over the United States and so have a clear mental picture of just how this might happen in real life. Too much to relate to.

This would make a great movie, but I really hope they don’t make one out if it, even though that’s probably not fair to Gin Phillips.

Dewey’s 24-Hour Readathon, Oct 2017

Dewey’s Readathon—10th-Birthday Edition!—starts right now, so here’s my quick kickoff post.

My stack:

The bullet journal progress page that I stayed up late and probably sabotaged my readathon to put together:

My meme responses:

1) What fine part of the world are you reading from today?

Central Massachusetts, where fall is falling.

2) Which book in your stack are you most looking forward to?

Fierce Kingdom by Gin Phillips. I might just treat myself and start there.

3) Which snack are you most looking forward to?

Ginger kombucha and a gallon of La Croix.

4) Tell us a little something about yourself!

No time for such niceties! I’ve got to get reading!

5) If you participated in the last read-a-thon, what’s one thing you’ll do different today?

I’m going to stay off of social media except for the kickoff (hi!) and the wrap-up posts and maybe one or two check-ins on Instagram (@imperfecthappiness) and maybe here, too, so I can dedicate myself more to reading than I often do.

Now that I’ve kicked off, to the books!

Dewey’s April 2017 Readathon Wrap-Up

Here I am, another readathon in the books. So to speak.

I ended up reading from 8am Saturday until about noon on Sunday, with a 7-hour break to sleep and do some yoga. After I’d stayed up an hour past my bedtime, I considered going the distance, but my cat was too exhausted to continue.

Readathon Cat April 2017

During the official readathon period, I completed one novel, the audiobook of Anne Tyler’s Vinegar Girl. During my unofficial morning session, I finished Lionel Shriver’s Big Brother.

There’s a closing survey, but I don’t feel like completing it this time around. I still love the readathon, though, and definitely plan to participate in the next one, coming up on October 21, 2017.

Dewey’s Readathon, April 2017 Edition

Today is one of the best days of the year: readathon day!

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Readathon TBR Stack

My TBR is this stack plus a download of the audio version of Anne Tyler’s Vinegar Girl, a retelling of The Taming of the Shrew. I know I won’t be reading all of these. In fact, I’ll be lucky to finish even one, but I like to aim high. At least my list is more realistic than the one I made for October’s readathon.

Keeping with tradition, here are my responses to the opening survey:

1) What fine part of the world are you reading from today?

Sunny central Massachusetts.

2) Which book in your stack are you most looking forward to?

Probably Big Brother by Lionel Shriver, but mostly because I’ve already started it and I think I have a decent chance of finishing it today. After that, I might try to sprint through Gods and Warriors by Michelle Paver.

3) Which snack are you most looking forward to?

Kale salad with tahini dressing. I can live on that stuff. I’m also looking forward to popcorn, but that’s a logistical challenge because I use the same bowl for popcorn as I do for kale salad.

4) Tell us a little something about yourself!

I’m trying to keep to a regular sleep schedule, so I’ll only be reading until about 9:00 tonight. That’s a really boring thing about me. Nominally more interesting: I’m wearing my hair in two French braids today. I worry that’s a little silly for a forty-year-old to do, but it’s a little hot today, and the two braids keep the hair off my neck. It’s pragmatic, so it’s okay.

5) If you participated in the last read-a-thon, what’s one thing you’ll do different today?

I’ve already mentioned the quitting early and the braids. I’m also wearing yoga clothes all day and I did forty-five minutes of yoga before starting the readathon. Gotta stay limber. Oh, and I might take a break in the afternoon to watch the first Harry Potter movie with my family.

Now off to read!

 

January 2017 24 in 48 Wrap-Up Post

Well, the 2017 24 in 48 Readathon, January edition, has come and gone.

I’ll use the official 24in48 closing survey as a guide for my wrap-up:

How many books did you read? Pages?

I finished two books, The Graveyard Apartment by Mariko Koike (325 pages) and Broken Monsters by Lauren Beukes (436 pages). I also read about ten pages of Edith Pearlman’s Honeydew, so my page total is about 771. And I listened to a little less than an hour of As You Wish by Cary Elwes while I took a constitutional, but I’m not going to attempt to convert that to pages read.

How many hours did you read?

I didn’t keep close track, but I estimate about twelve hours total, maybe fourteen. Some stuff came up that kind of derailed my reading plans (real life is always trying to push into my reading time), so I didn’t spend as may hours reading as I would have preferred.

What do you think worked well in this readathon?

I like the surveys, and I like the 24-in-48 format. I liked reading about the challenges, although I didn’t keep up with them myself.

What do you think could be done to improve the readathon for next time?

Couldn’t say. I didn’t follow the challenges or the social media presence all that well, but I think that’s my thing, not something anyone else needs to improve.

Will you participate in a future 24in48 readathon?

Absolutely. Anything to give me an excuse to bury myself in books for a weekend.

Broken Monsters by Lauren Beukes

Broken Monsters is the second and last book I finished for this year’s 24 in 48 readathon, matching my “finished” total for Dewey’s Readathon this past October. I cheated a little and read for two hours past the official end of the readathon, but I’m counting it anyway.


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From when I started the book at breakfast-time on Saturday.

This was the second book in a row that I finished reading at 2am, sitting on the floor of the bathroom with the door shut so my late-night reading wouldn’t disturb my spouse, who is much better about observing a healthy, consistent bedtime than I am. He’s also much taller than me.

I’d read very little in the way of crime dramas/murder mysteries until a few months ago when I began feverishly making my way through Tana French’s Dublin Murder Squad series. I can’t say with certainty that the commonalities I see between this book and French’s books is also something in common with the genre in general, so I’ll just keep to what I know. Beukes does all of the things that I love about French’s writing, and she does them even more. Like French’s characters, Beukes’s characters are distinct personalities, but they’re even more clearly—yet still subtly—drawn. Both authors weave their characters’ personal lives and a broader cultural commentary into the murder investigation at the core of the novel, but Beukes does it in a manner even more seamless and emotionally authentic. Reading this novel, I was constantly blown away by the virtuosity and subtlety with which Beukes writes.

The biggest difference between French’s novels and Broken Monsters is that Beukes puts no brakes on the bizarre. But while the novel gets really, really weird, Beukes still takes the reader along with her. I happily read bizarre fiction, but there’s usually a self-consciousness about it, a constant awareness that I’m reading something bizarre. But with this novel, the weird just kind of snuck up on me so that, by the time I was really aware of just how weird it was, I was already in it.

I think what made the difference for me was the emotional authenticity that Beukes retains throughout all of the really off-the-wall stuff. There’s a scene towards the end of the novel in which Gabi says something to Layla that makes total sense but I completely didn’t expect. I hesitate to use the word poignant because that implies a level of sap that this scene does not possess, so I’ll just say that the exchange reveals the depths of the love between mother and daughter in a way that’s so surprising in its emotional truth that I cried just a little. Granted, it was almost 2am and I’d been sitting on the tile floor of my bathroom reading for nearly four hours, so perhaps I was in a more vulnerable emotional condition than if I’d been curled up comfortably on the couch and reading well-rested, but while I might not have teared up, I think I would have been surprised and the scene would have retained its emotional truth in either situation.

Two quotes stood out for me. The first, which I’ve truncated significantly because I don’t want to give too much away, stands out because it feels true to how our culture responds to attention-seekers at all levels, especially in this Internet-fueled, post-truth age:

“Just keep giving him attention. Even if it makes you an accomplice to his [expletive]ed-up fantasies.” (405)

And the second just made me smile because I’ve thought it so many times myself (minus the comma splice, of course):

“Hell isn’t other people, it’s other parents.” (316)

To any of my mom-friends who are reading this, I don’t mean you.

The Graveyard Apartment

This is the first book I finished for the 2017 24 in 48 Readathon! I cheated a little and started six hours early, but hey…I finished the book! I’ll post book reviews here on the blog, but if you want the play-by-play, take a look at @imperfecthappiness on Instagram.


img_20170121_091957.jpgOverall, this book was pretty good. It wasn’t super-spooky, but I sat up late to read the whole thing in one sitting (with a break to put the kids to bed) because it was easy to read and because I found the deeper issues in the novel compelling.

There were no huge surprises, horror-wise—an apartment next to a graveyard, misbehaving electronics, weird noises, spooky happenings, a trip to check out city records about the history of the site. There were some things that were unclear or just dropped without further explanation, like the bird and the dark little figures. Some of the language was cliched or otherwise uninteresting, but I have a higher tolerance for this sort of thing in a translation. I found myself wanting to ask my friends who speak/read Japanese to read this and tell me if the word choice was any more skillful in the original Japanese.

One of the biggest things that gave me trouble was that the motivation of the antagonist(s) was unclear. Did they want to drive out the tenants (if so, why make it difficult to leave)? Did they want to kill the tenants (if so, why drag it out)? Are they targeting the one family specifically (if so, why all the collateral damage)? As another reviewer mentions, are they the spirits of dead people or are they malevolent spirits of some other, mythological type? Are they limited in power, as the beginning of the book suggests, or are they omnipotent, as they seem to be by the end (although they apparently still need the elevator)? It seems like the author can’t decide.

Two things kept me interested in this novel. First, the author did an excellent job of maintaining suspense. The action took almost too long for me, but not quite. That’s good suspense.

Second, there’s this intersection of the personal haunted past of the main family in the story and the haunting of the building. Read More