Posted in Readathons-Challenges-Memes

Down the TBR Hole 32

This is a meme started by Lia at Lost in a Story. The “rules” are:

  • Go to your Goodreads to-read shelf.
  • Order on ascending date added.
  • Take the first 5 (or 10 (or even more!) if you’re feeling adventurous) books. Of course, if you do this weekly, you start where you left off the last time.
  • Read the synopses of the books.
  • Decide: keep it or should it go?

I’m modifying this a little since my to-read shelf is a mess of books that are mostly in storage. Instead, I’m going to look at my wishlist—all those books I add on a whim during my travels around the book blogging community—and weed out the ones that don’t quite sound as good now. The “keepers” I’m going to look for at online libraries or add to my Amazon wishlist.

An interesting side-note: Four of today’s books were added to my Wishlist during NonFicNov 2017!

The Circus Fire cover

The Circus Fire: A True Story of an American Tragedy by Stewart O’Nan

My interest in magic extends to related arts, like the circus. This story still sounds good to me: I know little about “big top” circuses. KEEP.

Life in Code cover

Life in Code: A Personal History of Technology by Ellen Ullman

Reading the Goodreads summary, I think I’d like to read Ullman’s Close to the Machine instead, though I suppose there might be some overlap between the two. GO for now.

Dust Bowl Girls cover

Dust Bowl Girls: The Inspiring Story of the Team That Barnstormed Its Way to Basketball Glory by Lydia Reeder

KEEP and extra bookmark since this book is related to the Be the Expert/Become the Expert topic I want to cover next week for NonFic November!

Endurance cover

Endurance: Shackleton’s Incredible Voyage by Alfred Lansing

Honestly, I don’t know when I’m going to get to this book, but every time I see it on a NonFic November list, still want to read it. KEEP for now.

Better Angels of Our Nature cover

The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined by Steven Pinker

Arguably an important book, but realistically not one I’m going to get to in the near future. I’m also not sure I can keep with this topic for 800 pages. GO.

Anyone have any experience with any of these? Any arguments for KEEP or GO?

Posted in Readathons-Challenges-Memes

NonFic November 2020, Wk 2

Julie @ Julz Reads is hosting week 2:

This week, pair up a nonfiction book with a fiction title. It can be a “If you loved this book, read this!” or just two titles that you think would go well together. Maybe it’s a historical novel and you’d like to get the real history by reading a nonfiction version of the story.

Week 2 of NonFic November is always a challenge, but especially since I haven’t read too many magic books this year!

I realized as I finished reading Moby-Dick earlier this year that I’ve become one of those people: I’m going to reread the novel over and over again for the rest of my life and I’ll tell you about it if you ask me. As I reread this last time, I also read Dive Deeper: Journeys with Moby-Dick by George Cotkin. Cotkin has a chapter for each chapter of Moby-Dick, each riffing on a theme, a piece of history, or (most interestingly to me) how the novel has become a part of pop culture.

This might be a slightly controversial pairing because The Amityville Horror by Jay Anson has come to be considered, let’s say, less than factual. But when I read it in my teens, it was a true, account of a haunting. To some extent, the ambiguity makes it the perfect pairing for Home Before Dark by Riley Sager.

One of the magic books I did read this year was The Life and Afterlife of Harry Houdini by Joe Posnanski. Since it’s all about how Houdini has become as much of a character as he was a person, I figured I’d pair that book with one of the many team-ups of the magician with the world’s most famous detective: Sherlock Holmes and The Escape Artist by Fred Thursfield. I haven’t read this one yet, but it’s on my rainy day TBR list.

Posted in History

Notes, 11/8/20


I’ve had a hard time getting into any reading this week. I guess I’m mostly reading Edison’s Eve: A Magical History of the Quest for Mechanical Life by Gaby Wood. Alas, there’s a lot philosophy going on in this book, which I find a bit tedious.


“Mr. Dark’s Carnival” by Glen Hirshberg – This was “clean up” from October. I find that I might have a problem: I used to be able to read several books in tandem. I’d have maybe a bedside book and a computer-based book, maybe a novel and a nonfiction book all going at the same time. Not to mention the short stories mixed in. Lately, I’m finding this more difficult. I want to finish one thing before starting the next. Is it age? Probably. “Mr. Dark’s Carnival” was my bedside reading material after finishing Doyle’s The Parasite, but I couldn’t get into anything else until I finished it, instead of just reading a page or two before falling asleep. (Who keeps a horror anthology for her bedside book? Me, apparently.)

Star Wars: The Rise of Kylo Ren

Star Wars: The Rise of Kylo Ren (issues 1–4) by Charles Soule & Will Sliney – I’ve been reading quite a few comics collections this year, which is probably padding my reading numbers, but I don’t really care about numbers aside from keeping track of them. I’m just reading for enjoyment.

I had been keeping an eye on this comic run because, dang it, I want to like the something of Star Wars VII, VIII, IX! I was very much a fan of Star Wars as a kid, but only half-ish of The Last Jedi has done anything for me since episode VI. So, this take on the origin of Kylo Ren works well in that context.

Deal Me In

Week 44: 7♣️
“Prince Myshkin, and Hold the Relish” by Harlan Ellison – One of those stories that you can only read to yourself in Harlan Ellison’s voice. Our narrator and the cook at a hot dog stand begin a discussion of whether Dostoevsky treated women poorly. The conversation is interrupted by other patrons and a passerby who tells his long history of women he loved, all of whom have met terrible ends. Sometimes, reality proves a point.

I’m a week behind so I’ll maybe cover week 45 and 46 next Sunday.


I had a plan to maybe revive my Cinema Saturday posts, but after two months of movie marathons, I’m doing some TV watching.

My two shows of choice are on opposite ends of a spectrum: Hannibal and Community. I watched a goodly portion of each when they first premiered, but I’m as bad at finishing television series as I am book series.

About The Weather

It was 98F on Thursday. Thankfully, a cold front has come through and that should be it for the 90s for this year.

This past week was so long that yesterday when I went to add something to my monthly bullet journal spread, I couldn’t understand why I hadn’t done the things I had planned for Monday and Tuesday, the 9th and 10th. Surely, we were already halfway through November…

Of course, the election was the big, big deal this week. I had voted by mail back in early October, but it was good to go online and check that my signature had been verified and my ballot counted. I’d like to be relieved at the outcome, but I’m a pessimist and have watched too many horror movies. I’m not confident yet that the Big Bad will stay down.

I am already pretty behind on NaNoWriMo, but mostly I was doing it to jump start me back into writing. I actually *want* to do more work on my Ada Swanson project and to finish it. That’s a change for me, so I might have already gotten what I needed from NaNo.

Posted in Male Author, Novella

{Book} The Parasite

The Parasite

The Parasite by Arthur Conan Doyle

Mesmerism (or animal magnetism, or hypnosis) was quite the thing during the 19th century as scientists wildly conjecture about what was within its bounds of possibility. Writers of fiction took the chance to speculate as well. In fact, I reviewed an anthology of hypnosis-based crime stories just last century year. Arthur Conan Doyle (author of “The Refugees” and “Micah Clark,” as the title books title page reminded me) had his own hypnosis tale to tell.

The Parasite is written in diary-form by our narrator, Gilroy, a skeptic. Gilroy begins the novella thinking that hypnosis is just an entertainment based on deception. He is made a believer when Miss Penclosa, the celebrity hypnotist of the moment, puts his beloved fiancee in a trance and has her (briefly) call off the wedding. Gilroy changes gears and decides he’d like to study Miss Penclosa by being put into trances by her.

From the beginning, Gilroy assures the reader that Miss Penclosa, who has a crippled leg, is kind of creepy and not at all good-looking. He is absolutely not interested in her. But after a few sessions with her, he is strangely drawn to her. And soon, he’s experiencing periods of missing time. Obviously, Miss Penclosa is a very dangerous woman.

Gilroy talking about women, both his fiancee and Miss Penclosa, is a bit cringe-worthy in a late 19th century kind of way. Plot-wise, Doyle’s written better. Skip this one, read Richard Marsh’s The Beetle instead.

I read The Parasite during Readers Imbibing Peril and Something Wicked Fall. I also read it as a part of the Sherlockathon for the “The Scot” prompt and as part of my Classics Club list.

Posted in Readathons-Challenges-Memes

NonFic November 2020, Wk 1

Your Year in Nonfiction

NonFiction November! The only good part of October ending…

Leann @ Shelf Aware kicks off week one with:

Your Year in Nonfiction: Take a look back at your year of nonfiction and reflect on the following questions – What was your favorite nonfiction read of the year? Do you have a particular topic you’ve been attracted to more this year? What nonfiction book have you recommended the most? What are you hoping to get out of participating in Nonfiction November?

My nonfiction ratio is a little low this year, thus far (only 25%), but it’s been full of gems. Unsurprisingly, one of my favorites has been Bad Blood by John Carreyrou. It’s been highly recommended now for years and hits on my fascination with deception. More surprisingly, I really enjoyed The Life and Afterlife of Harry Houdini by Joe Posnanski. Houdini is not my favorite guy, but because I love magic history I’ve read more about him that I really want to. It was pleasant for an author to have a newer take on Houdini. Along with a basic biography, Posnanski asks, “Why Houdini? Why is he the cultural touchstone that he is?”

I’ve read a few books this year about writing and the writer’s life. I started last December rereading all of Helene Hanff’s books, mostly as comfort reading, but hers is a writing life I envy. I also read Take Off Your Pants by Libbie Hawker, Take Joy by Jane Yolan, and Draft No. 4 by John McPhee.

I haven’t recommended much this year because I’ve been a little more insular than usual. I don’t know why that would be… So, I’m looking forward to chatting about nonfiction and getting recommendations as well as giving them. From this year’s reading, I want to recommend The Life and Afterlife of Harry Houdini and the other John McPhee book I read, Levels of the Game, bios (sort of) of Arthur Ashe and Clark Graebner as they play first US Open tennis match.

NonFiction November TBR

Here’s what I’d like to read this month:

  • Edison’s Eve: A Magical History of the Quest for Mechanical Life by Gaby Wood
  • The Tale of Terror: A Study of the Gothic Romance by Edith Birkhead
  • Strange Cures by Rob Zabrecky
  • In Cold Blood by Truman Capote
Posted in History

Perilous Update, 11/1/20

Notes of Peril

Here we are at the end of perilous things, but to misquote Dickens “I will honor Halloween in my heart, and try to keep it all the year.” How was my spooky season? It’s been okay. And in 2020 terms that means it’s been super awesome.

In September and October, I:


I’m supposed to be reading The Hound of the Baskervilles this weekend for Sherlockathon, but mostly I’m just chilling out and regrouping for…

Notes of Non-Peril

Nonfic November! I’ll be blogging for that tomorrow and I’m combining my first couple nonfiction reads with Sherlockathon. My original choice, The Butchering Art, is on deep hold at the library so I’ll be reading Edison’s Eve: A Magical History of the Quest for Mechanical Life by Gaby Wood and The Tale of Terror: A Study Of The Gothic Fiction by Edith Birkhead.

And I’m also going to do NaNoWriMo. Yep. I’m going to try and write 50K words on my Ada Swason project. Basically, I’m going to write a loosely structured narrative, with digressions and notes on what I need to further research. So far, so good: I’ve already got one day done!