Dewey’s 24 Hour Readathon October 2017

april2017It’s that time of year again. It’s Dewey’s 24 Hour Readathon time! A full 24 hour period to devote to just reading! The readathon is this weekend, October21st and 22nd. Most exciting is that it’s the 10th anniversary of this readathon. Click here to read more about the story of this readathon. This is my fourth readathon.You can read about previous readathons here, here, and here.

As I write this I’m busy collecting the books I want to read during the event. I’m not focusing on a theme, although I’m am planning on reading some Ray Bradbury books that are October and Halloween related. Click here if you would like to see my Dewey’s Readathon bookshelf on Goodreads. Another thing I’m focusing on is reading shorter in length books because one thing I have learned is not to read “doorstoppers” during a readathon. I read a 500+ page book during my first readathon which made me feel as if I made no progress at all. While I know that its not a competition, I did get discouraged since I didn’t quite finish two books for that first readathon. So for the next one I read more 200 pages and under books which made me feel like I accomplished my goals as I finished each book. Now I focus more on page count and not worry about the number of books I read. I’m setting the goal of reading 1,500 pages.  And since I get a little stir crazy sitting in the same spot for hours on end, I will also have some audio books ready to go so I can get out and enjoy the lovely fall weather this weekend.

A new treat I have also planned for the readathon: spa day! I’m gonna spend some time with stuff slathered on my feet, hands, and face. This is a perfect time to use a deep moisturizer on my poor, dry, feet and heels. And fuzzy socks to keep my feet warm while I have them propped on a stool. On my hands more balms and lotions with my hands in cotton gloves to keep the book pages clean. And on my face some eye masks and face masks to treat my skin. And I’ll put a pitcher of water with cucumbers or oranges floating nearby. It will be lovely.

Another important part of this readathon is social media.  I plan on sticking to Twitter for most of my updates with three or four more detailed updates on my blog. You can find me here on Twitter. I am also planning on visiting Goodreads Dewey’s Readathon group and participation in the reading sprints which are held there. I will participate in as many mini-challenges as I can and cheer all my fellow readathoners on as possible. It’s such fun to know that so many other people all around the world are participating and cheering each other on. It’s one of the many really cool things about this readathon; we do it together.

Finally, food and drink is also much discussed and planned for the readathon. Since I’m going with a spa day theme, I”ll have pitchers of water to keep hydrated. Later on I’ll drink hot tea and cider and treat myself to some pumpkin cookies to keep my energy up. And perhaps the treat that I’m most looking forward to is the late afternoon/early evening large latte or flat white Himself will go and get for me. I don’t drink coffee after 4 pm because the caffeine keeps me awake all night. So this late in the day coffee is a special treat.

Of course, all of my plans for the readathon may change the day of. But one thing is for certain and it’s that I will be readathoning on Saturday. Will you? Let me know in the comments below if you are participating in this readathon. And leave the links to your social media or blog so we can cheer each other on. Happy readathon weekend, y’all!

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Morning Pages

My first morning pages notebook.

Today I did the same thing I do almost every morning. I got up, poured myself a cup of coffee, and wrote in my morning pages notebook. As of today, I’ve been following this routine for a year. And it’s probably one of the best things I’ve done for myself in years.

I’m not imparting profound thoughts or truths in these notebooks, but instead I’m just taking what’s up here (pointing at my head) and putting it down here (pointing at my notebook.) And moving all that detritus from my busy brain leaves room for more creative ideas to percolate. I’m not putting down on paper deep truths or profound thoughts. I’m just following the advice of Julia Cameron and writing down whatever is floating around in my head.

Seriously, most mornings my notebook is filled with my whining about being “awake”, not enough coffee in my cup, and how crapppy Bic pens really are to write with. Occasionally I’ll write down my remembered dreams or whatever issue I’m obsessing about at that moment. I’ve long known about free writing as a tool to help with my academic writing, but I just hadn’t bothered to use it for more personal exercise. Julia Cameron seems to be the originator of the version of the practice that I’m using. It’s a grand way to clear my mind for the day ahead.

My current morning pages notebook

I think that this practice has improved my writing for this blog. It helps me with my everyday life, too. Stuff that I previously worried or obsessed about ended up in my morning pages and not in my head. And if you, like me, obsess over silly things, then this exercise may help you to keep it from churning around all day and night. Additionally, my morning pages are also a place I often “pre-write” a lot of my bookish blog posts and book reviews. I can get all my thoughts down while still being half conscious and so don’t lose all my brilliant thoughts and ideas (or not so brilliant, depending.)

My pretty leather covered journal

And it also has helped me with another problem I have: my collection of notebooks. I love notebooks and have so many. And I didn’t use them. I was always planning to use them for my JOURNALING (it’s in all caps because journaling is important writing and profound.) And such profound journaling deserves a lovely notebook. And that is true, I guess. But that fear of perfection kept me from doing any writing in any notebook. I came to realize that if I didn’t use the notebooks now that the notebooks would never be used. And after I die my children will just toss them in the trash. It’s true. So I started using them. And using such pretty notebooks made me happy. And so all of my notebooks will eventually be used. And the kids can toss ’em after I’m dead or I can toss ’em myself.

 

If someone were to ask me if I thought morning pages is worth their time and energy I would tell them yes. It has made a huge difference in my writing and life over the past year. And I would tell them that they should start doing it as soon as possible. Immediately, if not sooner!

Have I convinced you, dear reader, to explore the practice of morning pages? Let me know what you think in the comments below.

Helpful Links

Here are some links to some blog posts and essays about writing (not just morning pages):

From Lithub is This is from a recent essay that encourages writers to take notes by hand. Writing the morning pages by hand is an important part of the process.

The Artisit’s Way by Julia Cameron contains information about how she defines the morning pages practice. I’ve not read the entire book, just the sections related to morning pages. I have read The Right to Write.

And another short essay about how the hows and whys of morning pages by Belle Beth Cooper.

And finally this is a link to my October 2016 Wrap-Up where I first mention morning pages. Scroll down to find the link to the blog post that inspires me. Thanks Little Coffee Fox!

 

 

Quarterly Lit Box Unboxing

I thought it might be fun to post about the latest book box that came in the mail last week. I subscribe to the Quarterly Literary subscription box, and, if you are interested, click on the link here to find out more about this box. I found out about this box when it was a book box subscription for Book Riot a few years ago. After Book Riot changed to a different book box, I kept my subscription to Quarterly. This month is #LIT05 and it was curated by the featured author Gin Phillips, the author of the featured novel   Fierce Kingdom. 

Included in the box, as in all the Quarterly Boxes, are two more books that are picked by the author and either influenced the author or are thematically similar to the featured novel (did I mention that the featured novel is hardback and newly published?) Also included are bookish swag. The swag in most of Quarterly boxes feel a bit last minute and thrown in to the box, frankly. But this box features a large tote bag (and what reader doesn’t need a tote bag to tote stuff?) and fancy paperclips as swag.

So, am I happy with the swag in this box? Yes, I am. Like many a bookish woman, I love a canvas tote bag. I have a good dozen stuffed in a closets around my house, but I can always use another. And this one is canvas, so it’s sturdy and washable. The paperclips? Well, those are useful too. I love looking at office supplies like this, but the shapes aren’t ones I would chose for myself. But I will use them, I think.

As for the books, I am quite pleased by this selection. Island of the Blue Dolphin by Scott O’Dell is a book I read over and over again while in elementary school. I loved this book. I had that same thrill when I picked the book up out of the box. Finally, a copy of my own to read over and over again anytime that I please! Yes, for a moment I was 8 years old again.

Run by Ann Patchet is also included in the box. This is a wonderful copy! It has deckle edges and French flaps! So pretty! I haven’t read this novel, but it’s from an author who shows up pretty frequently on my wish list, so I’m sure that i’ll enjoy this novel.

Finally, the featured novel Fierce Kingdom by Gin Phillips. Truthfully, I have never heard of this author. Looking on Goodreads, she seems to have written a number of books. And it seems to be a thriller featuring a female protagonist, and that’s something I’ll read. Oh, I forgot to mention that Quarterly also included an author singed sticker for the book (does this count as a signed book?).

Also, each featured novel is full of post-it notes with the author’s notes and annotations.

 

The post-its are slapped  on the page in the way of reading, so it’s sort of annoying. I end up moving them to the top of the page to get them out of my way. And I’m not sure the notes add anything to the reading experience.

Overall, I’m very happy with this particular box. Books I’m very happy to have and the swag better than other boxes Quarterly has sent to me. But I’m not sure that I’ll continue subscribing to this box.

Does anyone else subscribe to a book box? What do you think of this box? Would you subscribe to it?  Since I’m sort of searching for a new book box subscription which one would you recommend? Let me know in the comments below.

Jane Austen: A Few of My Favorite Things

This past Tuesday –July 18th– was the 200th anniversary of Jane Austen’s death at the age of 41. And there have been “think pieces”  about her contributions to literature, and tributes to Jane all over the internet. So, of course, I want to add my own thoughts about Jane Austen to the deluge.

But rather than try to write authoritatively on Jane Austen and her contribution to literature, I’m instead listing my favorite books, movie/TV adaptations, and stuff that I’ve collected over the years.

So, here are  a few of my favorite Austen things.

Jane Austen Mug from The Unemployed Philosophers Guild. See the photo above for my actual mug. As I took the photo that mug had coffee in it. I love this mug so much. It’s covered in fabulous quotes from Austen’s novels. And drinking my coffee and reading the sharp and beloved words of Jane is always a good way to start the day.

And, from Out of Print, this lovely tote bag.  It’s just so pretty. And they have this P&P print on a t-shirt as well. 

 

 

 

 

Pride and Prejudice (Special Edition) by Colin FirthMy favorite TV adaptation of Pride & Prejudice.  There are many out there, it is true. In my opinion there is only one adaptation worth watching( this one) and only one Mr. Darcy (Colin Firth) and Lizzie Bennet (Jennifer Ehle). And I will fight you about this.

 

 

 

Sense & Sensibility (Special Edition)

My favorite movie adaptation is  Sense & Sensibility. I think this may have more to do with Emma Thompson and the late Alan Rickman. I re-watched this over the weekend and it is so good.

 

 

 

 

 

My favorite Jane Austen novel: Persuasion. It’s all about regrets. The regret that Anne feels for rejecting PersuasionCaptain Wentworth. The Musgove’s regret that Anne didn’t marry Charles. He married Anne’s sister Mary-a snob-who makes them all miserable. As a middle aged person I have many regrets too, and I think that’s why I love this novel and the way Austen explores the characters regrets. And this cover on this edition from Penguin Classiscs. Love it. (By the way, the BBC 1995 adaptation of this novel is a close runners up for favorite movie adaptation.)

Bitch In a Bonnet: Reclaiming Jane Austen From the Stiffs, the Snobs, the Simps and the Saps, Volume 1My favorite book about a Jane Austen’s novel: Bitch in a Bonnet: Reclaiming Jane Austen from the Stiffs, the Snobs, the Simps and the Saps, volume 1 by Robert Rodi. This book explores the critical eye that Jane Austen cast on the world in which she lived.

 

 

 

LongbournAnd my favorite Jane Austen adjacent novel is LongbournI’m not a fan of novels based on classic novels like The Wizard of Oz. (I really disliked Wicked. A lot. Its one of those books I threw across the room before I finished it.) But this particular novel is one of my favorite reads of 2014.  

 

 

 

 

And finally, here are some links to two of my favorite Jane Austen think pieces published across the internet the last week or two:

This article from The Atlantic was originally published in August 2014 and came up in my Facebook feed over the weekend. It tackles an issue that is evident from the first line of Austen’s most famous novel, “It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.” Wealth is important in Austen’s novels.

And this essay published this week on the web site Literary Hub  makes a point I’ve long argued. Mrs. Bennet maybe a foolish woman, but she isn’t wrong to worry, fuss, and plot marriages for her five daughters.

Are you a fan of Jane Austen? Do you agree with my favorites? Or do you disagree most vehemently? Let me know in the comments below.

To Read or Not Read?

Or I’m going to watch the TV show instead.

The new season of Game of Thrones  is set to begin soon(July 16 in the USA) on HBO. And I have been thinking about why I have decided not to read George R.R. Martin’s series A Song of Fire and Ice on which the TV series is based. And this is a controversial admission for me, a confirmed bookworm, to make. But make it I am and I stand by it, too.

A Game of Thrones (A Song of Ice and Fire, #1)
Courtesy GoodReads

I watched the series for the first time after my cable company offered us a free year of HBO. One cold winter’s night we decided to watch GOT since we had both heard so much about the most recent season. (Anyone heard of The Red Wedding episode? Thought so!) We really enjoyed it and were genuinely shocked by the death of Sean Bean at the end of season 1. (But we should have known since it is Sean Bean. The poor man rarely survives in anything he’s cast.) And I was enthusiastic enough about the series to read the books. So I downloaded the first book onto my Kindle and began to read.

And I liked the first book. There is a lot more to the story there. And there are characters that didn’t make it to the TV adaptation. It is a fun read. So, I downloaded book two to my Kindle. And again, its a good story. I enjoy it, too. So much so that I buy the third book rather than wait for the library copy to become available. And I begin to read. But. At about a 1/4 of the way in I stopped. And I stopped, according to my notes, because I just didn’t care about the book or the story it tells at that moment in time. I’m ready to read something else.

I had spent two months reading nothing but the first three books. I read the books late into the night and curled up in an air conditioned room during the day. I read no other book during this time. And I reached a point where I wanted to read something else. I have so many books that I want to read. So many other stories to become involved in that I put the book on my Kindle shelf and wander off to read something else. I fully intend to return to the book but I never do. Finally, about a year after closing the book I make the decision to not finish the book or read any of the rest of series. I decide to to only watch the TV adaptation.

And I’m okay with this decision. My husband never read the Harry Potter series and only watched the movies. And he is fine with it. He also has no interest in reading the Song of Fire and Ice series, either. The world and his reading life is still going forward. And we both know we are missing characters and story lines by only watching the TV show. And we are fine with it. And we are missing fun details like the trees in the North talking to each other, which my brother Scott tells me is a thing in the books. But I know this detail because he told me. and it makes certain scenes with the trees more interesting. But if I’m interested in some minute detail about the GOT world, there is a wiki where I can read all about it. Or I can ask Scott. Is it cheating? Maybe. But I’m fine with it.

At this point George R.R. Martin has yet to publish book six. But the TV adaptation has gone on. And I like that story lines are coming together and wrapping up in a, at least for me, satisfying way. And yes, I have debates with people (Hi Scott!) about whether or not this is the right way to consume this story. And I may at some point change my mind and read the rest of the series. But as of today I’m planning on just watching the TV show.

Have you ever decided not to read the book but only watch the adaptations? Tell me about it in the comments below.

 

Happy Belated Birthday, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone!

Twenty years ago on June 26, 1997 Harry Potter was first published in the UK. And the reading world has not been the same.

This series of books has launched movies, merchandise, and fan fiction. Publishers are on the prowl continually looking for the “new” Harry Potter. Children have grown up with Harry and are there are  now children being introduced for the first time to his wizarding world. But not all fans of J.K. Rowling’s series were children when the series first appeared 20 years ago.

I was in my early 30’s when I first read about Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone  in 1998. I was reading an essay about children’s books since I was always on the look out at the time for good books for my kids to read. At that time both kids were close in age to Harry in that first book. Both kids were readers and I thought they might enjoy this story that had taken the UK by storm. So, the next time I went to the store I bought it for the kids. And they both loved it. Loved it! The pestered me to read it too certain I would enjoy it as much as they did. But I put it off since that summer I was taking classes at the local community college and getting ready for a cross-country move. Harry would have to wait.

By the fall of 1999, we were settled in our new home, getting ready to go back to school, and waiting for the paperback version of the second Harry Potter book to come out. I knew my kids were very excited to read more about Harry’s adventures. They pestered me to read the book too, but I was enrolled in college busy reading the required texts and hadn’t time to read for pleasure at all. So again, Harry would have to wait.

It wasn’t until the third book in the series was published that I read the books. The film version was coming out and I try to read the books before I see the movie, if at all possible. So, finally, that summer of 2001, I belatedly sat down and read Harry’s story. And I loved it. I finished the first book in a day and moved on to the second, then the third. I was hooked. Later, when the fourth book came out, we all went to the Harry Potter book release party at the local B&N. (I miss those book release parties. They were such fun.) After we bought the book, like a good mom, I gave it to one of the kids to read. In the car. On the way home. In the dark.  And “encouraged” her to stay up all night and read it. Because her brother and I needed our turn! After she finished it, the boy took his turn. But he stopped at some point to play video games. So, while he played video games, I read. I suppose I could have bought two books or books for all of us, but money was tight in those days so all three of us shared the books.

At some point J.K. Rowling slowed down a bit and needed more time to write Harry’s story. But my kids didn’t slow down. They grew up and became older than Harry. By the time the final book was published both kids were grown and gone. And they bought their own copies of Harry Potter to read.

But we three can still argue about Harry Potter when they come home. Their dad, who has not read any of the books, has seen all of the movies and can follow our discussions. Harry was such a part of their young adulthood that realizing how many years ago it all started is shocking to me. It’s shocking because the kids who read Harry Potter are now adults. My kids are adults. Harry, Hermione, and Ron are adults, too. How can that be?

Have you fond memories of reading Harry Potter for the first time? Let me know in the comments below.

 

 

Dewey’s 24 Hour Readathon

april2017

Yes, it’s that time of year again. Dewey’s 24 Hour Readathon. This year it fall on April 29th which is this Saturday. This will be my third readathon and I’m really looking forward to it. Click on  October 2016  and April 2016 if you would like to see my plans for the last two readathons I participated in.

This is my final-ish stack that I’m planning to read for the readathon. Two of the stack are Harry Potter books because I’ve seen on Litsy that a number of people are doing a chapter a day rereading of all the novels. And I didn’t know about it so I could do that challenge too. So, to help scratch that itch, I decided to read books two and three of the series. Also, I’m reading books that will work for the Book Riot Read Harder Challenge. I’ve fallen woefully behind in this reading challenge and I’m hoping the readathon will get me back on the wagon again. Also, all of the books I’m reading are eligible for the other challenge I’m doing this year #ReadMyOwnDamnBooks. All of the books were purchased before 2017. So! I’m ready, y’all.

If you would would like to participate in this Springs readathon, click here to sign up and if you would to read more about the readathon, click here. You can follow me on Goodreads, Twitter and Instagram and Litsy (follow me!) to see my updates and the occasional challenge. And I will be post updates through out the day here on my blog, of course.

So, are you planning on doing the Dewey’s Readathon? Are there other readathons I need to know about? If so, let me know in the comments below.