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Read-a-Thon Starting Line

It’s time for the Read-a-Thon! This is my fifth one, which is hard to believe, but no less exciting for that! I’m looking forward to getting started today and meeting all of the new Read-a-thon participants as well as the ones I know already. I have my netbook, have eaten lunch, have snacks ready and a husband on meal duty, and a huge pile of books to choose from, so I am all set to go.

Here is the stack at the start:

There are actually two stacks there, but never mind. I couldn’t stop putting more books on the pile. As it stands, though, I am starting out with Shades of Milk and Honey by Mary Robinette Kowal. I have heard amazing things about this book since well before it was published, it’s a Nebula nominee, and it arrived in the mail yesterday so I’m very excited to read it. Best of all, it’s short and I’m told it reads quickly – so it is the perfect Read-a-Thon book! I aim to continue reading it until I’ve finished, and then come back for an update, so I’ll see you all in a couple of hours.

ETA to add the intro meme:

1)Where are you reading from today?

My flat in Beverley, England.

2)Three random facts about me… food-themed, as I’ve done this before, and part of the read-a-thon fun is the snacking:

  1. I like cheese and hamburgers but not cheeseburgers.
  2. I forced myself to like tea about 4 years ago and have become an addict, so will be drinking a lot over the next 24 hours!
  3. I would quite happily eat pizza every day.

3)How many books do you have in your TBR pile for the next 24 hours?

16. I know. I got excited.

4)Do you have any goals for the read-a-thon (i.e. number of books, number of pages, number of hours, or number of comments on blogs)?

Not really, I’d like to read more than 12 hours (my current average) and at least 4 books.

5)If you’re a veteran read-a-thoner, any advice for people doing this for the first time?

Definitely pick short, fun books, don’t get sucked into the internet (particularly twitter) and take breaks when you need to!

Good luck to all the participants!

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Once Upon a Time V

once upon a time v

It’s time again for Carl’s Once Upon a Time challenge! As usual, we have gorgeous buttons, and I have an immense stack of fantasy books I would like to read. Since I have eight that I’ve pulled out which are sitting in front of me, plus my monthly Wheel of Time rereads, I think I’ll easily be able to pull off Quest the First, five books of any type of fantasy. I’ve not been doing many challenges this year, but I think I can make an exception for this one. I love fantasy, after all, so what’s not to like about reading more of it??

The choices I’ve given myself include:

  1. Dreams Underfoot, Charles de Lint
  2. The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms, N.K. Jemisin – I know I’ll read this as it’s a book club choice for April!
  3. Howl’s Moving Castle, Diana Wynne Jones
  4. Ill Wind, Rachel Caine
  5. The Native Star, M.K. Hobson – This was meant to be my first Nebula read, but I still haven’t gotten to it yet.
  6. Demon Angel, Meljean Brook
  7. Blood and Iron, Elizabeth Bear
  8. The Dubious Hills, Pamela Dean
  9. Shades of Milk and Honey, Mary Robinette Kowal – I don’t own this yet but I do plan to buy it, probably in May, which still works for this challenge!

And then, if I keep with my Wheel of Time reads, I should also be reading The Great Hunt, The Dragon Reborn, and The Shadow Rising by Robert Jordan.

Where should I start? Are you joining in?

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A Tournament of Reading – Wrap Up Posts

a tournament of reading Hi everyone! I know I’ve been a bit quiet about my challenge, which I apologize for. My URL has even changed from the button! Regardless, I thought it would be a good idea to wrap up my own participation and to leave a space for you all to wrap up your own challenges, if you’d like. As a reminder, the different levels of participation were:

Challenge genres include history, medieval literature, and historical fiction.  Medieval, for simplicity of definition, will be from 500-1500, and literature from all over the world is welcome, not just western Europe.  There are 3 levels:

  • Peasant – Read 3 medieval books of any kind.
  • Lord – Read 6 medieval books, at least one of each kind.
  • King – Read 9 medieval books, at least two of each kind.

I personally aimed for King level, but I failed pretty hard.  The medieval books I read this year were:

  1. Eleanor the Queen, Norah Lofts
  2. Company of Liars, Karen Maitland
  3. Mistress of the Art of Death, Ariana Franklin
  4. Butterfly Swords, Jeannie Lin
  5. Shadow of the Swords, Kamran Pasha
  6. Katherine Swynford, Alison Weir
  7. The Burning Land, Bernard Cornwell
  8. Virgin Widow, Anne O’Brien
  9. The Tale of Murasaki, Liza Dalby
  10. The Lute Player, Norah Lofts
  11. Shadow of the King, Helen Hollick
  12. The Dark Rose, Cynthia Harrod-Eagles
  13. Scoundrel’s Kiss, Carrie Lofty
  14. The Stolen Crown, Susan Higginbotham

While I did manage to read 14 books (which is pretty paltry out of over 200 books so far this year) only one of them was history and none of them were actually medieval literature. I’m pretty ashamed and actually very surprised. Lots of the books I read were historical, so clearly I misnamed my blog, but never mind – I’m sure I’ll continue reading medieval books into 2011. I’ll consider this a partial failure.

How did you do with the challenge? Either stick your wrap-up link in the MckLinky below or just let me know in the comments.

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    2011 Challenges – So Far

    2010 wasn’t a good year for challenges.  I can say that already.  I don’t think I’ve failed my own challenge – I’ve read lots of medieval stuff – but I haven’t come close to reading the books I listed at the beginning.  I probably haven’t covered every category either – regardless, I’ll sum all that up at the end of the year.

    2011, though, might just be different.  I say might, because let’s face it, I almost always fail at challenges.  But I’ve recently become much more disciplined in my reading, and if I can choose books that I definitely want to read and which I feel are worthwhile, I might have a shot.

    a year of feminist classics

    So, first up will be A Year of Feminist Classics.  I’ve been interested in this challenge ever since I heard about it.  It’s hosted by four bloggers and they’re rotating which books they host each month.  I’ve read hardly any books that deal with feminism and none at all on this list (I know – I’m ashamed!).  So I really want to give it a try.  Some of the books are expensive and not in my library, but I’ll see how I’m feeling when those months come along.  Here’s the list:

    January: A Vindication of the Rights of Women by Mary Wollestonecraft – Amy
    FebruaryThe Subjection of Women by John Stuart Mill and Harriet Taylor Mill – Ana
    March: A Doll’s House by Henrik Ibsen – Emily
    April: Herland by Charlotte Perkins Gilman – Iris
    May: A Room of One’s Own by Virginia Woolf – Ana
    June: The Feminine Mystique by Betty Friedan OR The Female Eunuch by Germaine Greer – Amy
    July: The Second Sex by Simone de Beauvoir – Iris
    August: The Women’s Room by  Marilyn French – Emily
    September: The Beauty Myth by Naomi Wolf – Amy
    October: Ain’t I a Woman? by bell hooks – Iris
    NovemberGender Trouble by Judith Butler – Ana
    December: Sister Outsider by Audre Lorde – Emily

    what's in a name 4

    My second challenge that I’m announcing today is the What’s in a Name 4 challenge, hosted by Beth Fish Reads.  I’ve never done this one before but it looks like fun.  The rules are to read one book in each of the following categories between January 1 and December 31, 2011.  I’ve included my options below.

    1. A book with a number in the title

    • Sixty-one Nails, Mark Shevdon
    • The Thirteen Treasures, Michelle Harrison

    2. A book with jewelry or a gem in the title

    • Confucius Jade, Frederick Fisher

    3. A book with a size in the title

    • Small Island, Andrea Levy
    • Notes from a Small Island, Bill Bryson

    4. A book with travel or movement in the title

    • Looking for Alaska, John Green
    • A Walk in the Woods, Bill Bryson

    5. A book with evil in the title

    • Roots of Evil, Sarah Rayne
    • Demon Angel, Meljean Brook

    6. A book with a life stage in the title

    • Woman by Natalie Angier

    Which challenges have you signed up for in 2011?

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    Hour 21

    It’s not so early morning here, and I’ve been back and reading for a little over an hour now!  I stayed up until about 1, then woke up at 8:30 to keep on going with Neither Here Nor There.  I do expect to finish it before the end of the Read-a-thon, but I’ll be having a quick break for breakfast and possibly lunch, so I doubt I’ll get anything else finished.  I bet I will finish a fifth book before the end of Sunday, so though I haven’t quite achieved my objective, I’ll say that’s close enough.

    Strangely, I have discovered that non-fiction is definitely slower than fiction.  I thought I was getting close to the same speed, but I’m really not!  I don’t mind, I just think it’s bit funny, as I don’t note these things in my normal reading life.  I suspect it’s because I have no real feeling of urgency to find out what happened, as I would with a book based more on plot, so I slow down a bit to enjoy.

    Books Read From: 4

    Pages Read: 794

    Time Spent Reading: 10:15

    Books Read:

    • The Passport, Herta Muller
    • The Lost City of Z, David Grann
    • A Long Way Down, Nick Hornby

    How is everyone else doing?  Still awake or up again?

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    Hour 12 – nearly halfway through

    I’m pretty impressed that I’ve managed to stay up this late!  I’ve finished three books now.  A Long Way Down took me a bit longer than it should have, but mainly because I took a break to stretch and eat some cheese and crackers and forgot to note it.  Silly me!  I’m also reading quite slowly as I think my husband is feeling the pinch and keeps talking to me, which definitely slows things down, but I think I’ll forgive him. ;)

    I still haven’t participated in any of the mini-challenges and I’m not sure I’m going to!  I’m enjoying just reading and to be honest, I’m not really looking to win any books.  I’m trying to cut down on my TBR pile, not add to it, although I wouldn’t protest if I got lucky.

    My next book will be Neither Here Nor There by Bill Bryson.  I’m switching between fiction and non-fiction and while it’s made me read a bit less, I think it’s a nice change from the usual overdose of lighter fiction books I choose for the Read-a-thon.  Anyway, here’s how I’m doing:

    Number of Books Read: 3
    Pages Read: 624
    Time Spent Reading: 8:08
    Time Spent Blogging: 1:58

    Ooh, I nearly missed the mid-event survey!

    1. What are you reading right now?

    I’m just about to start Neither Here Nor There by Bill Bryson

    2. How many books have you read so far?

    3 so far.

    3. What book are you most looking forward to for the second half of the Read-a-thon?

    I think this one, actually; I really like Bill Bryson and I’ve saved this one for a month or so now.

    4. Did you have to make any special arrangements to free up your whole day?

    No, I just didn’t make any plans!

    5. Have you had many interruptions? How did you deal with those?

    Yes, I have had a few interruptions, and mostly I’ve just rolled with them.  Luckily they haven’t lasted too long, so I’ve been able to get back to reading.

    6. What surprises you most about the Read-a-thon, so far?

    Not too much really, I’m just surprised I’m still awake.  I’ve been asleep at this time in the first three, I’m pretty sure.  I’m not good at staying up.

    7. Do you have any suggestions for how to improve the Read-a-thon next year?

    Not yet!

    8. What would you do differently, as a Reader or a Cheerleader, if you were to do this again next year?

    Nothing yet; I might make more concrete plans in terms of meals and snacks like others do, but I just wasn’t organized this time around.

    9. Are you getting tired yet?

    I am, but hopefully I can still read a bit before dropping off.

    10. Do you have any tips for other Readers or Cheerleaders, something you think is working well for you that others may not have discovered?

    I don’t right now, but if or when I do I will share. =)

    How’s everyone else doing now? Still good I hope!

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    Hour 8

    I’ve been distracted quite a bit this evening – my husband managed to upgrade my Android phone from 1.5 to 2.1 and it’s like having a whole new phone! As a result I haven’t really put in the reading time that I wanted, although I did manage to finish The Lost City of Z, putting my total books read up to 2 so far. Not that impressive, but at least I enjoyed that one! I’m now reading A Long Way Down by Nick Hornby, which seems pretty good so far.  I’m about to go leave some comments, then I’ll be back to it.

    Number of books read from: 3

    Titles: The Lost City of Z by David Grann, The Passport by Herta Muller, A Long Way Down by Nick Hornby

    Pages read: 412

    Time spent reading: 5:23

    Time spent blogging: 1:28

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    Hour 3: 1st meme and progress so far!

    I’ve made some good progress so far I think – I’ve managed to read one, very small (92 page) book, which I really disliked, called The Passport by Herta Muller.  It just felt very scattered to me in terms of story and was completely fixated on imagery and allegory.  I would prefer a coherent narrative to surreal phrases full of meaning every time – but never mind, it’s out of the way!  I’ve moved on The Lost City of Z by David Grann and I’ve read 50 pages so far; it’s excellent and I think I’m finally about to feel pleased about the fact that I’ve signed myself up to read all day!  And I can’t forget that I have an excellent pile awaiting me when I’ve finished this one, too.

    Without further ado, I’ll answer the questions for the first meme and then get back to reading.

    Where are you reading from today?

    I’m currently in Beverley, in East Yorkshire, England.

    3 facts about me …

    I can’t remember what I used last time.  I’ll think up some new ones.

    1. I am probably the world’s newest SEO (search engine optimizer).  I help Google find the sites people want to see.  But I’m a historian at heart and in my spare time.
    2. I’ve been married for almost a year now.
    3. I’m going to be in Paris in two weeks for my anniversary.

    How many books do you have in your TBR pile for the next 24 hours?

    I think it was 14.  No, I’m not going to read 14 books – I’d like to read at least five though.

    Do you have any goals for the read-a-thon (i.e. number of books, number of pages, number of hours, or number of comments on blogs)?

    I’d like to read five books and do some blog commenting, probably after I’ve finished my next book.  I want to get out and cheer a bit, although I haven’t signed up for an hour.  Mainly because I’m unpredictable and can’t stay awake too late.

    If you’re a veteran read-a-thoner, any advice for people doing this for the first time?

    Just enjoy yourself and be happy with what you read!  Don’t spend too much time on the challenges, because they *will* suck up your time, although they can be fun.  Go out and visit people, but remember to read as well.  And get on Twitter (I’m @mbookworm) – it’s a lot of fun when you’re looking to stop reading print for a bit.

    Good luck everyone!

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    Ready for the Read-a-thon

    It’s time for Dewey’s 24 hour Read-a-thon, and even though I’ve only just completed my preparation for it, I’m now ready to go and looking forward to it.  I’m trying to read short books because my TBR pile seriously needs cutting down, and I’ve requested too many books from the library so I need to return some before they’re due.  Here’s the pile of books I’ve put together, along with my Kindle which also has a few options for fast reads:

    readathon book pileI’m not really going into this Read-a-thon with defined goals.  This is my fourth Read-a-thon, so I think I know what to expect.  What I would like to do differently this time is create a draft post after each book, so I have some basis for reviewing them later.  I’m still five reviews behind despite my attempts to catch up, so if I write some thoughts down when they’re fresh in my mind it may be better than just leaving each book and coming back to them a week from now when I’ve read tons more.

    I also know I’m not going to stay up for 24 hours – in fact, I will probably be asleep by 10!  But I should have a few hours tomorrow to fit some more reading in before the official end.  I’m actually trying not to snack, but instead making a huge batch of baked ziti to see us through this afternoon and tomorrow.  It will be different, that’s for sure!

    Are you participating in the Read-a-thon?  If you are, good luck!  If you’re not, do you have any advice for which book I should read first?

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    Giving up on the Read-a-long of Bleak House

    I was excited to take part in Amanda’s read-a-long of Bleak House, but the book just isn’t drawing me in.  I’ve been behind since the very first week and it doesn’t look good for me ever catching up!  I normally just fail at challenges, but this one I think I’ll have to give up.  I have so many other books to read that I’m going to put this firmly on the back burner for now.  If everyone else starts to like it I may try again in the future.  Quite frankly, I found it boring and a slog and my mind wandered too much so I had to keep reading over what I’d read already!  I’d catch a moment of loveliness in Dickens’ writing, but then I’d just get frustrated all over again.  It may have a lot to say but I’m not sure I’m ready to listen just yet.

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