Thursday, July 27, 2017

24 in 48, or how I talked myself out of sleep this weekend


I love a good readathon, which is why I signed up for the 24 in 48 Readathon. Over the course of 48 hours, participants try to read for a full 24 hours. Other than that, it's a pretty loose system. Readers can start with the Eastern time zone (what I did) or whenever it's midnight between Friday and Saturday in their zone. 48 hours later, it's over, and everyone is dead.

I mean, not really, but I was pretty dazed and very glad to go to bed Sunday night.

There are two different aspects that make this challenge difficult.

1. Time. A person needs to be reading one minute for every minute that they don't read over the course of a weekend. It doesn't leave very much wiggle room for other activities, like sleeping or having a meaningful conversation with anyone in your life. My husband likes to increase the challenge by adding distractions like The Great British Bake-Off and cleaning to really make it a time crunch. After a less than impressive Saturday total, we talked and he realized that if he wanted to watch the new Game of Thrones live that he better not distract me. He did the bulk of cooking after that and everything was amazing, plus allowed me to read through meals.

2. Physical. There are about a billion ways that reading was uncomfortable this weekend. The obvious is just the physical positioning while reading. The same position that worked for hour three was pretty uncomfortable by hour 11 and miserable by 23. Plus, Austin had another of its weird weekends where it might rain, so my allergies were in full force. I was tired with itchy eyes or really, really tired after taking Benadryl for most of this weekend. AND SLEEP. Did anyone get enough sleep this weekend? I am lucky that my Monday morning was flexible.

But! I did it. I somehow made it to 24 hours. I only finished in the last hour, but that's because I totally watched the newest episode of Game of Thrones as it aired (also, need to talk about that).

Over the course of 24 hours, I read five graphic novels:

1. Lumberjanes Volume 6- always good and full of girl-power, but not my favorite of the series.
2. Spider-Woman: Shifting Gears, Vol 1- Jessica Drew is pregnant and not handling it super well, but I really loved how it shows the different ways that motherhood can change a person and a superhero. Also, how motherhood still won't stop Spider-Woman from kicking Krull butt if she has to.
3. Spider-Women- a crossover starring Silk, Spider-Woman and Spider-Gwen. This was not good. Multiple artists and writers, so it felt a bit all over the place.
4. Gwenpool, Vol 1- Gwenpool is a total joke character that has been given her own series. A cross between Gwen Stacy from Spider-Man and Deadpool, she is a mercenary who embodies the idea that no matter how bad at fighting you are, you can win if you keep trying. Or if you blow everything up. Plus, she thinks she's fighting characters that she has read about in comic books. It's very weird, bt fun.
5. Wicked+Divine, Vol 5- Thankfully much better than the last volume, plus it has so many gorgeous Kevin Wada drawings.

Two novels:
1. Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult- the only black OBGYN nurse at the hospital is told not to touch the newborn son of white supremacists, but is left alone with the baby when an emergency surgery pulls the other nurses off the floor. The nurse watches the baby, but is torn between her job and trying to save his life when he stops breathing. She tries to save him, but lies and says she hasn't touched him when another nurse comes in and they begin CPR. The baby doesn't live. The couple sues the nurse. Told from the perspective of the nurse, the father and the nurse's lawyer, it's an interesting, complicated tale.
2. The Goddesses by Swan Huntley- sold as The Descendants meets Single White Female, I feel that it's an accurate description. After her husband cheats, Nancy and her family move to Hawaii for a fresh start. There, she meets Ana, a yoga instructor who pulls Nancy into a series of karmic acts that become less and less altruistic. Not my favorite novel, but I wanted to know how much worse/better it would get and stuck it out until the end.

Plus, I read 64% of Ruth Ware's The Lying Game, which will likely end up in this month's Short Stack.

AND! I started and deleted 15 ARCs off my Kindle in a fit of speed reading. When I have the time (like 24 hours devoted to reading), I love to just sit down with a pile of books and read the first chapters or five minutes, whichever comes first. It either gets a bookmark or it's gone to Half Price Books, the library or whoever might like it.

I felt so much lighter when it was over. Stupidly tired, but also like I had done some serious spring cleaning to my shelves. I would say that this readathon isn't for everyone, though. It's hard to get to 24 hours if you need to be a functioning person over the course of the weekend. I obviously didn't.

The next one isn't until January 27-28, but there are plenty of other readathons out there if you need a reason to hunker down in a book bunker for a weekend or over the course of a week or a day. Do a quick search and find one that works for you.

Friday, July 7, 2017

The Short Stack: June/In Praise of the DNF


In praise of the DNF

I have definitely said this before, but don't finish books that you don't like. I get digital arcs from Netgalley that I can read for free. But does that mean that I should finish them for the sake of the review? No. Not all books are created equal. Some books don't deserve the hours it takes to finish them.

DNF stands for Did Not Finish. And this past month, I DNF'd so many books and arcs that at some point, I turned in every unread book I had checked out from the library and reviewed at least 20 books as "DNF, not for me". Because feeling like I need to read absolutely everything is too much pressure. I was one of those students who never finished a classic in high school because assigned reading is terrible. And that's what my giant TBR (to be read) pile is starting to feel like- assigned reading.

So return some books. Sell some books. Delete things from your eReader. Stop buying books for a little while. No matter what it takes, sometimes you have to stop building your TBR before you end up on hoarders, quietly weeping about how eventually you will read everything (you won't).

And learn to love not finishing things. Free yourself of the pressure. Long live the DNF.

A few of the good things I did finish this month:

1. Mother of All Questions by Rebecca Solnit
This is another essay collection from the author of Men Explain Things to Me. Collections, be them fiction or nonfiction from the same author or many, can be very hit or miss. I wouldn't say that all of these are must reads, but the title essay about being asked about children will resonate with many women. The one that really appealed to me, though, was on silence. A person can choose to be quiet or they can be silenced. There is a huge difference between those two outcomes, which Solnit explains beautifully. Read some, skim some, but pick up this collection.

2. California Dreamin' by Penelope Bagieu
I didn't know very much about Cass Elliot before I read this, but I found it to be a very compelling introduction to her life. It starts before Cass was Mama Cass and ends right before her big break with the song California Dreamin'. One of the things I loved about this was how tenacious Cass Elliot was; she worked hard and pushed her way into the music business She also had some pretty standard problems for the industry, like a drug habit and being pushed to lose weight. I like that Bagieu didn't focus this story on either. Word of warning- you're going to have the song stuck in your head for a while.

3. Ramona Blue by Julie Murphy
Julie Murphy is a must-read for me. I loved Dumplin' (which finally has its star and I think she's perfect and I'm including a trailer for another film that she is in), so I picked this one up without having any idea what it was about. Ramona is a teenager in Mississippi, living in a trailer in a town that sees its fair share of summertime tourists. She's also an out lesbian, which is totally fine with her dad and sister, though her mother still thinks it's a phase. The novel starts at the end of summer with her closeted not-quite-girlfriend heading home for her senior year. Thankfully, her old friend Freddie, who used to be a tourist, moves to her town for good. As they reignite their friendship, Ramona is confused by her feelings for him after so many years of thinking of herself as a lesbian.

Bonus Patti Cake$ trailer because this is our future Willowdean. Some cursing:

That's all for this month, but follow me on Goodreads for more book recs and to see what I'm reading!