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24-Hour Readathon October 2021

Image for Oct 2021 Readathon

. . . Sunday, 02:30

Nope, I didn’t make it any longer than usual! I was toast by 2:30.

Closing Survey

  1. How would you assess your reading overall? It went well! I still haven’t gotten to The Ceremonies, but that was a stretch goal.
  2. Did you have a strategy, and if so, did you stick to it? Stuck to it pretty well. Maybe, I need a new strategy, maybe I’m just fine reading, like, 18 hours.
  3. What was your favorite snack? Totino’s Party Pizza was so good!
  4. Did you add any new books to your TBR/wishlist after seeing what everyone else is reading? I did not. I’m trying to be very good about not adding to my TBR (she says the week before Nonfic November).
  5. What was your favorite book or experience from this readathon? I love Lavie Tidhar’s Judge Dee stories. They’re fun creepy mysteries, perfect for the season!

Saturday, 21:00–Sunday, 01:00

Worked well earlier so I read another Clive Barker story, followed by the 3rd (and sadly last (for now?)) Judge Dee tale. My hands haven’t been super happy with holding books so in a complete change of plan (shocking, I know!) I’m listening to A Wizard’s Guide to Defensive Baking by T. Kingfisher and do some light EQ2 gaming.

Saturday, 17:00–21:00

(I was a little late with the last update and early with this one . . .) Finished “Floating Water,” “The Skins of the Fathers” by Clive Barker (From Books of Blood), and “Judge Dee and the Three Deaths of Count Werdenfels” by Lavie Tidhar. No snacks in this period, but a diet Mountain Dew toward the beginning and a shot of cinnamon whiskey in the recent past. Alcohol is a gambit during Readathon. I hope it will loosen me up, but it could just put me to sleep.

Some Stuff I’ll Probably Read

Saturday, 13:00–17:00

Finished Danse Macabre by Stephen King and then read my Deal Me In story for the week: “Red Sky At Morning” by Alanna Smith. I also ended up watching a game of ultimate frisbee while reading and eating dinner (a Party Pizza, hash-browns, and a Sleepy Dog Brewery peanut-butter stout). Started “Floating Water” by Koji Suzuki before going out and throwing a disc myself with my husband.

Saturday, 09:00–13:00

I got back up at about 9:15. I’ve read 69 pages of Danse Macabre and am pretty close to finishing it. Food & drink: left over piece of pizza, a pear, second cup of coffee, a diet Dr. Pepper Cream Soda, and lots of water. Also took out the recycling.

Saturday, 05:00–09:00

Finished the last three chapters of The Sundial by Shirley Jackson (47 pages). Had donuts and a cup of coffee. And then I went back to bed!

Opening Event Survey

I “slept” terribly, but here I am at 04:54! I foresee a nap in my future.

  1. What fine part of the world are you reading from today? Tempe, AZ
  2. Which book in your stack are you most looking forward to? Probably the Judge Dee stories I’ve bookmarked.
  3. Which snack are you most looking forward to? A Totino’s Party Pizza for “lunch.”
  4. Tell us a little something about yourself! I really enjoy playing ultimate frisbee and right now I’m the oldest woman playing in our local rec league.
  5. If you participated in the last read-a-thon, what’s one thing you’ll do different today? Well, I wanted to go to bed early, but I’m a terrible sleeper!

Friday

Dewey’s 24-Hour Readathon starts at 5am on Saturday for me. Will I be up that early? Probably not. But we’ll see. I have nothing going on this Saturday, not even a football to watch/listen to, so it’s pretty much perfect.

Last Word On It

On my birthday last year, 116 people died of COVID-19 in Arizona. Coming about two weeks after Thanksgiving, this was near the beginning of the third wave in AZ. For a while, December 14th was the date with the highest reported number of deaths in AZ, surpassing even the summer peak in July. This was at the beginning of a trend that lasted through Christmas and well into the New Year.

116 people died of COVID-19, in Arizona, on my birthday and that breaks my heart. While I was celebrating making it through another year, so many other people were dealing with fresh grief. I don’t know any of the people who died on my birthday, but I imagine a few of them were like me: a wife, a daughter, a sister, an in-law, a friend.

116 people died of COVID-19, in Arizona, on my birthday and that also makes me very angry. More angry and disappointed than I, a social optimist, have ever been because many of those deaths were preventable.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, I’ve wanted only two things. One was to not get sick. The other was to do all I could to not contribute to other people getting sick. To not contribute to other people dying.

The CDC recommendation was to social distance and wear a mask. I stayed home. Not everyone has as lucky circumstances as mine, but I wasn’t needed anywhere. Did I want to go places? Of course. I’m not a social person, but I missed shopping trips, the library, the movies, playing ultimate frisbee. I missed holidays and I missed special events. I wore a mask when I did go out.

And the CDC recommendation worked. As long as people followed the recommendation. But by Thanksgiving, people were tired. Following guidelines had become even more of a political thing. Why should people’s freedoms be curtailed? And on my birthday, 116 people died of COVID-19 in Arizona.

As of my writing this today, an estimated 600,000 people have died in the US of COVID-19. I don’t remotely know how anyone is okay with that when we had recommendations to control the spread.

The CDC recommendation now is to get vaccinated. In the United States, we have three safe, effective vaccine options. Even if you’ve had COVID-19, the recommendation is to get vaccinated. A vaccine trains your immune system better than illness. A vaccinated population stops the spread of the virus; if the spread is stopped, the virus no longer has the opportunity to develop variants. A vaccinated population also protects its vulnerable members, people who have immune deficiency problems due to other illnesses and treatments.

And a vaccinated population can get back to doing all the things maybe you didn’t do in 2020, if you followed the recommendations. One of the things I did in 2020 was realize that 116 people died on my birthday in Arizona of a disease we let run rampant.

We can stop COVID-19 from going further. Get vaccinated.

Tales of an Unwieldy Library, pt. 3

Getting Distracted Along the Way

Photo by Guilherme Rossi on Pexels.com

Cataloging the books in the backroom/office has been a slower process than dealing with the rest of the apartment and the books I have in “storage” for the following reasons:

  1. Shelves: I don’t have many shelves and the ones I do have are often double stacked. Unshelving and reshelving books is a pain.
  2. Dust: I open the windows often and Arizona is a very dusty place. Books in boxes in the closet were not surprisingly not dusty.
  3. Desk Space: I lugged the closet books to the kitchen, which is right next to my big, beautiful frontroom desk, where I have my laptop set up. In the backroom/office, I have a very nice dual monitor desktop, but very little space for shifting books about. I end up with stacks on the floor, which is less convenient.
  4. Harlan Ellison: I was going along, adding books to Library Thing. I had worked through the paperbacks in the shoe boxes, my collection of Richard Laymon books, my collection of magic history and magic-related fiction. No problems. But then I reached my Harlan Ellison collection. And I realized, I had no idea what of Ellison’s I have and haven’t read. I have collections and anthologies and omnibus editions. I’ve read a few volumes straight through, but which? And are those stories collected elsewhere too? Maybe I should just read all of the books I have. Maybe I should try reading all of Ellison’s works (that I own) in roughly chronological order. Which would be a hassle to determine if I didn’t have the internet. Several spreadsheets later, I still haven’t gotten past my meager stack of Harlan Ellison books, but I have a new reading project.

Fine, it’s not entirely Ellison’s fault. I love my books. I love making lists. I had until now avoided getting too distracted by deciding what I wanted to read next. (Spoiler alert: It’s never the book I’m currently reading.) In this case, I couldn’t resist the detour.

Books cataloged: 632
Books unread, ± Harlan Ellison: 333

A to Z Challenge Theme Reveal

#AtoZChallenge 2021 Theme Reveal

Horror Movies A to Z

Ever since last April, I’ve been looking forward to celebrating Halfway to Halloween. I had randomly decided to do an unofficial horror movie A to Z challenge last year and late in the month realized that April is actually halfway to October.

This year, I’m officially joining the Blogging from A to Z April Challenge and will post another horror movie A to Z along with a few other Halfway to Halloween festivities. I plan to stick to movies that are new to me, but I might include an old favorite or two if I’m feeling burnt out.

I have started my list of “maybes” over at Letterboxd. If you have any horror movie recommendations, I’d love to hear them!

{Book} Bedbugs

Book cover for Bedbugs

Bedbugs by Ben H. Winters

Long ago, I won the second book in Ben H. Winter’s Last Policeman trilogy. I had not read the first one, don’t usually get involved in series, and don’t have much taste for apocalypse literature. But I’d heard from readers I trust that The Last Policeman was pretty good. And it was! Hank Palace, the titular last policeman, quickly became one of my favorite characters ever. Eventually, I was pretty bummed that there are only three books and no much chance of sequels, because, well, apocalypse. I promised myself that I’d visit more of Winters’ works. Fast forward to 2020 and Cathy @ 746 Books mentioning Bedbugs.

The strength of Winters’ writing is his relatable characters. While I am not a mother or as upwardly mobile as Susan, our protagonist, I could relate to her anxieties. She’s trying to be an artist while her husband works, often feels guilty for getting her way, and is occasionally overwhelmed by the emotional labor of being a wife. Both of Susan and I are more neurotic than we’d like to admit. For me, Susan is a character fairly grounded in reality.

So, when the world around her starts to skew, I was with her, wondering what the heck was going on. Alas, Winters doesn’t quite stick the landing here. Things get weird, and then sort of mundane, but also maybe still weird. Are there bedbugs? Or just badbugs? I have other questions that I will avoid asking for the sake of spoilers. Still, this was a creepy, unsettling tale. I’m glad Phoenix rates as #45 of Orkin’s Top Bedbug Cities.

Down the TBR Hole 31

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.

The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark

The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark by Carl Sagan

This book is over 20 years-old, but I feel that it’s probably the foundational work of skepticism that should be more widely read. That said, I haven’t read it! KEEP.

HOUDINI UNBOUND: Espionage in Russia

HOUDINI UNBOUND: Espionage in Russia by David Saltman

I really do enjoy books about magic history, but man, am I over Houdini. GO.

You Will Not Have My Hate

You Will Not Have My Hate by Antoine Leiris

This is very possibly an important book about not letting one tragic event dictate life. But I’m going to be honest: I’m never going to get to it. I’m never going to be in the mood for this book. GO.

Beartown (Beartown, #1)

Beartown by Fredrik Backman

I’m kind of on the fence about this one. For some reason, I thought it was nonfiction. But it’s by the guy who wrote A Man Called Ove, which I haven’t read, but is liked by pretty much everyone I know. I think I’ll KEEP Beartown for now.

Death in the Air: The True Story of a Serial Killer, the Great London Smog, and the Strangling of a City

Death in the Air: The True Story of a Serial Killer, the Great London Smog, and the Strangling of a City by Kate Winkler Dawson

I will also admit that I’m a sucker for a historical serial killer, especially one that takes advantage of outside circumstances. KEEP.

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

The Black Cat, No. 14, November 1896

Welcome to the 14th issue of The Black Cat and the Black Cat Project!

There is a gap in my Black Cat reckoning. I did read issue 13, but I never blogged about it. The stories were not good and, after a year of working on the project, I needed a break. But I’ve missed it too! So, I’m jumping back in with No. 14. This issue features five stories with five authors new to the magazine.

Stories

“Silas F. Quigley – To Arrive” by Lewis Hopkins Rogers

Silas F. Quigley, from Oxford, Ohio, arrives at a hotel in New York City to find a letter already waiting for him. The problem is, until midway through his trip he hadn’t even decided which hotel to stay in! Was this letter and the offer of work inside meant for some other Silas F. Quigley? Things get even stranger when Silas decides to take the work offered: writing short stories for a magazine. How hard could it be? This was a decent little mystery of a story, though I found the ultimate resolution to be a bit ornate. It was my favorite of the issue.

Google turns up a Lewis Hopkins Rogers who was a “statesman” and one the author of a patent for an apparatus for the production of gaseous  ozonides. Not sure if either penned this tale.

“The Polar Magnet” by Philip Verrill Mighels

Mesmerism weighed heavy in the minds of 1896 readers. In this story, we learn the secret behind an incredibly life-like sculpture. Don’t worry, we’re a few decades away from something like Dorothy L Sayer’s “The Man with the Copper Fingers” showing up in an entertainment magazine.

Philip Verrill Mighels was a prominent in the establishment of the “Sagebrush” school of American literature, encompassing writers of the west and southwest. “The Polar Magnet” is from fairly early in his career.

“Fitzhugh” by W. Macpherson Wiltbank

Lots of clowning in this story, both textual and meta-textual. When Fitzhugh is assigned to be a clown during a community circus, he decides to make sure he’s the best clown there. Or at least someone is the best clown there.

I didn’t find any biographical information on W. Macpherson Wiltbank, but he’ll appear again in later issues of The Black Cat.

“The Passion Snake” by Ella Higginson

The story is written from the POV of a female snake. She falls in love with a human and he’s in love with her, so she thinks, until a human woman he loves shows up and says, “Eeek! A snake!” Allegory, sure, but not my thing,

Ella Higginson was a fairly well-known author of the Pacific Northwest in her time. She was also the campaign manager for Frances C. Axtell, the first female state legislator in Washington.

“Professor Whirlwind” by Allan Quinan

“Professor Whirlwind” is set up to be funny. The titular character is a strange looking man whose two prized possessions are a locket of a with the picture of a lovely young woman and the portrait of a living, feather-less chicken. We’re given an adventure set up: he and the young woman were in a balloon trip gone wrong. There are trills! But then the story ends abruptly, seemly only in utter tragedy.

Boo, Mr. Quinan, boo.

Advertisements

Lots of advertisements in this issue, which makes me wonder if someone had just (gasp) not been scanning them! Along side ads for Prudential Insurance and Funk & Wagnalls Dictionaries was this piece for The Black Cat‘s short story contest.

The entry fee was a year subscription to The Black Cat (50¢)

Want to read for yourself?
Here’s the link to Issue No. 14, November, 1896

Or find out
More about the Black Cat Project