Category Archives: Readathons-Challenges-Memes

Monday Miscellanea, 1/17/22

TrekAThon, Round 2

A cartoon avatar showing a purple-haired young woman in a Star Trek: The Next Generation-style uniform.
Cadet Felicia Kendricks reporting and ready to learn!

TrekAThon: Starfleet Academy is coming in February!

This is just a teaser. I’ll have more info about Cadet Kendricks and a TBR later in the month.

Reading

Finished:

Cover for Hounded by Kevin Hearne, depicting a young man pulling a sword from a sheath on his back.
Cover for Beowulf, translated by Seamus Heaney, depicting a man's head entirely covered, including his face, in chain mail.

I also read Poe’s Brother: the Poems of William Henry Leonard Poe by Hervey and Thomas Ollive Mabbott Allen, which was a research hole I went down last week.

Currently Reading:

Cover for Books of Blood by Clive Barker, depicting a gray stone carving of humans and demons cavorting.
Cover for Masterpieces of Terror and the Unknown, with illustration by Edward Gorey.
Generic "public domain" cover for On the Art of Writing by Arthur Thomas Quiller-Couch.

Quiller-Couch’s On the Art of Writing got me thinking about the origins of American literature. I’ve earmarked an American Literature EdX course, so I might have some reading for that.

Goal Check-In

Shelf Maintenance:

  • I finished three books last week, two from various libraries and one a reread, so no change in my Beat the Backlog number.
  • It’s now been 18 days since I last acquired a book. Since I started keeping track of my book purchases/acquisitions in 2016, my record is 93 days (from Oct. 11, 2019 to Jan. 12, 2020); a goal to shoot for.

Writing & Tomes:

  • *whistles innocently*
  • Still haven’t heard back on “Colors of the Sea.” *checks email just in case* Yep, still haven’t heard.

Listening

Deal Me In 2022, Week 1

Deal Me In logo pic

All the Deal Me In details.

Card Picked: 5♠️
Story: “Drip” by Shreya Vikram
List: Recommended by Nightfire

Thoughts:
Well, I started the year off with quite a story. Nightfire is Tor’s horror imprint and they post a monthly “best of” of horror stories published online. I haven’t in the past availed myself of their lists, but if this story is an indication, their picks are good ones, heavy on the horror.

I can’t say I totally understood everything going on in “Drip.” The narrator is definitely deranged and in an abusive situation that is pretty over-the-top. He becomes obsessed with dripping of the dirty faucet. Or at least the sound of it, which seems to only be in his head. Everything in this story, including the faucet and the basin below it, is dirty and spoiled. The only freedom for the narrator and his many brothers is when their father is gone, laying in mourning over the grave of his father and father’s fathers. I suspect the faucet and the drip are allegorical (is the faucet their . . . mother?), but none of my theories exactly fit.

The story reminds me of the X-Files episode “Home,” though that family was infinitely more loving.

Other Short Stories

I feel like I read more short stories this week, but really I only read one aside from any in Masterpieces of Terror and the Unknown.

“Sheer in the Sun, They Pass” by Hester J. Rook – There are many, many takes on hauntings and ghosts and this was a new one on me.

Bout of Books 33

Bout of Books

Bout of Books 33, Jan 3–Jan 9

The Bout of Books readathon is organized by Amanda Shofner and Kelly Rubidoux Apple. It’s a weeklong readathon that begins 12:01am Monday, January 3rd and runs through Sunday, January 9th in YOUR time zone. Bout of Books is low-pressure. There are reading sprints, Twitter chats, and exclusive Instagram challenges, but they’re all completely optional. For all Bout of Books 33 information and updates, be sure to visit the Bout of Books blog. – From the Bout of Books team

It’s Bout of Books! What a great way to start the year! My goal is read about 600 pages and get to one of the Twitter chats.

In Our Own Worlds cover
Beowulf cover
On the Art of Writing cover
Masterpieces of Terror and the Unknown cover

I plan on finishing In Our Own Worlds, which is an anthology of four novellas. I started the third, A Taste of Honey by Kai Ashante Wilson, last night. Then on to Beowulf or Moby Dick, neither of which will help my backlog, but I’ve been itching to reread both. My morning “craft” reading is On the Art of Writing by Arthur Thomas Quiller-Couch, so a chapter of that every morning and a short story a day from Masterpieces of Terror and the Unknown.

I seem to be doing updates on Twitter ⇾ @katen

My Year in Nonfiction (thus far) 2021

I’m not going to participate officially in Nonfiction November because I don’t think I have time to put together posts each week, but I do want to give a shout-out to the event. Reading nonfiction often gets overlooked as being dry or not being as important as “literature.” False dichotomy! Nonfiction is a wide genre, knowing how the world works is always a good ting, and some nonfiction is just as narratively driven as the best fiction. So, anyway, if you like nonfiction and want to celebrate it or you’re new to nonfiction and want some recommendations, check out the event all through November. It kicked off Monday with Rennie at What’s 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?

I generally try to read about a 30% nonfiction during the year. Right now I’m hanging out at 37% with my two in-progess books also being nonfiction. Here’s a breakdown of what I’ve read and what’s going on in 2021.

Books about writing:
Or at least tangentially about writing. It seems I’m trying to come back from what I’ve recently described as my mid-life hiatus.

  • Creativity: A Short and Cheerful Guide by John Cleese – recommended! It’s short and rather comforting book about, well, creativity.
  • Wild Mind by Natalie Goldberg (re-read)
  • The Call of Stories by Robert Coles (re-read)
  • Zen in the Art of Writing by Ray Bradbury (re-read)
  • Never Say You Can’t Survive by Charlie Jane Anders
  • The Letters of Shirley Jackson, edited by Laurence Jackson Hyman (in-progress, but so far, recommended)

Magic books:
Not as many magic books as in years past, probably because I’ve maybe been paying too much attention to what I’m “supposed” to be reading.

  • Strange Cures by Rob Zabrecky – recommended! The least magical of the bunch, this is Rob Zabrecky’s autobiography of living in drug-soaked California as a member of Possum Dixon and later as a magician.
  • The Coney Island Fakir by Gary R. Brown
  • Jay’s Journal of Anomales by Ricky Jay
  • David Copperfield’s History of Magic by David Copperfield, Richard Wiseman, and David Britland (in-progress)

Horror in media:
Why? Don’t know, but I have watched a lot of horror movies since April of 2020. A lot.

  • The Science of Women in Horror by Meg Hafdahl and Kelly Florence
  • Nightmare Movies by Kim Newman
  • Danse Macabre by Stephen King – recommended! Even if you’re not a fan of Stephen King or even horror, this is a pretty good primer on horror tropes and what they say about American society (at least from 1950 to 1980).

Science history related:
One of my favorite sub-genres of science nonfiction is the history of science. Or maybe one of my favorite sub-genres of history is where it intersects with science. (See also, magic books.)

  • The Haunting of Alma Fielding by Kate Summerscale – recommended! Also “magic books” related, but much more about the psychology that is behind the want/need to perpetuate a certain type of con, in this case mediumship.
  • The Reason for the Darkness of the Night by John Tresch – recommended! A great Poe biography, but also about the advancement of science in the US during Poe’s lifetime; how each influenced the other.
  • Tesla: Inventor of the Modern by Richard Munson

So, that’s a microcosm of my reading this year. I’m sure my TBR will be freshly filled up with great nonfiction titles by the end of the month!

Classics Club Spin #28

Look at me posting twice in a week like some kind of blogger . . .

It’s Classics Club Spin time! Classic Club is a group of readers and bloggers who have pledged to read 50 classic books in five years.

More information on Classics Club.
My Classics Club list. Deadline: 12/14/2024

For a Classics Club Spin, I pick 20 books from my list and the organizers of the Classic Club pick a number between one and twenty. And then I read the appropriate book by a deadline, in this case Dec. 12th.

Below is my list:

  1. The Land of Mist by Arthur Conan Doyle
  2. The Yellow Claw by Sax Rohmer
  3. The Magician by W. Somerset Maugham
  4. The House of the Vampire by George Sylvester Viereck
  5. The Dorrington Deed-Box by Arthur Morrison
  6. The Wind in the Rose-Bush by Mary Eleanor Wilkins Freeman
  7. The Jewel of Seven Stars by Bram Stoker
  8. Kwaidan: Stories and Studies of Strange Things by Lafcadio Hearn
  9. The Devil’s Dictionary by Ambrose Bierce
  10. The Experiences of Loveday Brooke, Lady Detective by Catherine Louisa Pirkis
  11. Treasure Island by Robert Lewis Stevenson
  12. King Solomon’s Mines by Henry Rider Haggard
  13. The Horla by Guy de Maupassant
  14. Lord Arthur Saville’s Crime, and other stories by Oscar Wilde
  15. The Big Bow Mystery by Israel Zangwill
  16. The Mystery of a Hansom Cab by Fergus Hume
  17. The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins
  18. The Leavenworth Case by Anna Katharine Green
  19. Journey to the Center of the Earth by Jules Verne
  20. East Lynne by Ellen Wood

Reading Challenge Check-In, 9/30/21

Haven’t done a proper reading challenge check-in since the beginning of July. I’ve been blogging so much about movies lately that one might even wonder if I still read! I do, but I really enjoy movies too.

The Classics Club

Goal: 10 Books by 12/14/21
Progress: 7/10

✅ I’m more or less on track, but with no room to spare. I am also about a quarter of the way through The Devil’s Elixirs (I forgot that my version is in two volumes.)

Photo by Ricardo Esquivel on Pexels.com

Shelf Maintenance / Unwieldy Library

Goal: Abstain from acquiring books; read at least 21 books from my shelves.
Progress: I’ve acquired 14 titles (including six ARCs and a preorder), 12/21+

❌ By the middle of July, I had cataloged all my owned books, both physical and electronic. On July 15th, I owned 561 unread titles. Right now, that’s down 551, mostly due to some short story titles I blew through. It’s doubtful that I’m going to get to 21 full length books by the end of the year since I’ve been distracted by so many ARCs and library books!

Additional note: I’m pretty much no longer using Goodreads. I’m keeping track of my “currently reading/read” myself (which I’ve always done), cataloging my “owned” library at LibraryThing, and only keeping “wishlists” on various library accounts. This might cause me to look at my own shelves before borrowing or buying, but it hasn’t worked that way yet.

I Read Horror Year-Round

Goal: Read 6 books from 6 categories.
Progress: 4/6

✅ On-track. I have books that would cover two more categories on my fall TBR. So far I’ve read:

  • A body of water (featured in story, on cover, or in title): The Ghost Pirates by William Hope Hodgson
  • Written by a woman: Into Bones like Oil by Kaaron Warren
  • Ghosts or spirits: A Thin Ghost and Others by M. R. James
  • Historical horror (must be an historical novel written by a contemporary author) Slewfoot by Brom

Dune Read-through

Goal: Read Herbert’s six Dune books by October.
Progress: I read 5 of the 6 and am voluntarily stopping with Heretics of Dune. So, I’m considering this a win! ✅

Nonfiction

Goal: Read at least 30% nonfiction.
Progress: By my reckoning, I’m currently at 37% and am reading a non-fiction book as well as a fiction book currently. ✅

Short Stories

Goal: Deal Me In each week.
Progress: Again, I have been reading my weekly Deal Me In stories, if not posting about them. I’m more likely to mention them on Twitter. 😬

Fall Reading 2021

The Events

Autumn is my favorite season; mystery and horror are my favorite genres. Obviously, I’m all about fall reading events!

R.eaders I.mbibing P.eril is back for its 16th year, though in a slightly different form. There is information on Twitter and Instagram, but most of the action is over on Discord. At its heart though it’s the same R.I.P.. Horror, gothic, mysteries? All valid choices for R.I.P. and challenges include reading novels/short stories, watching movies/TV shows, and (new this year) listening to music/podcasts. Also new this season is a group read, Shirley Jackson’s The Sundial, and the above spiffy bingo card. I’m bad at prompt-based readathons so I imagine I’m going to be terrible at readathon bingo, but we’ll see how it goes.

Something Wicked Fall / #FrightFall is also back at Castle Macabre. I plan on doing the group read, The Blood Countess by Andrei Codrescu, and probably The Devil’s Elixirs by E. T. A. Hoffmann during Gothic September.

Continue reading